Without proper management, there will be no improvements in how your company works. As long as you will just keep moving forward without any insight, you will lose time on things that could be done much faster and more efficiently. In these series of blogs we would like to share our experience with management at the startup. If you haven’t read the first article, about task management, you can find it here.
This text will be easier to understand if you are already familiar with described tools: Slack, Hipchat. You will find a short description of both in the text below. If you want to know more about them, you can test both for free.
Working as a team makes that one thing really important – last time we wrote about tasks and exchanging thoughts or ideas, but there are not only the tasks to think of.
A team has to talk about every single detail: specifications, collected data, sharing a file, needs for new devices or even datasheets. All these subjects should be mentioned and for sure we need a piece of software to do that for us.
We haven’t found anything better for long video or voice calls than Skype. Now there is also no problem with conference calls, so we use it for all our team meetings (if someone is far away) and client calls. Everyone has Skype and, what is more important, they know how to use it. Google Hangouts are great, but they have a minor drawback – they seem to be complicated. The buggy and unstable connection with third party software is another drawback of Hangouts. One major problem could be connection speed or your recording devices – camera and microphone. If your problem lies here – try another Internet provider and buy a new webcam.
When it comes to file exchange and short messages, we have checked Slack and Hipchat. Hipchat’s design is not as nice as Slack’s, but it is clear and easy to use. Slack wins when it comes to simplicity of use and plugins. Windows are clear, it is not difficult to upload a file and to share anything with a single or a group of users. You can use plugins that implement different features, like for example, GA.TODAY which lets you implement site analytics notifications. On the other hand, Hipchat is changing really fast and with every update, it becomes simpler and easier to use. Slack is better in communication with other services, though, so it is still a good idea to try both pieces of software to find which suits you best.
Coming back to the tasks from the previous post again – Slack could be used as a private task manager. You can give a star at any comment and later view it in another window presenting a list of your starred items. Obviously, those could be little tasks or bugs found by testers and your teammates, sudden problems or short fixes, too small to be added in JIRA. This way you will remember about little things always when you open your communicator.
There is also another, much simpler and more effective way to use Slack as a task manager. You can do that by adding trello plugin. It is just as simple as it sounds – it takes up to one minute to set up. Since this moment Slack and Trello are connected – every information from Trello can appear in Slack, and if you implement sending messages to Trello – under the link with a task you will see buttons. They will let you accept or decline a task, what influences a list shown in your task manager. Everything is also being shared with your team, obviously.
Sometimes for minor things and outsourcing, there is no need for anything else than Skype and Hangouts, as they are easily available on any device – especially Hangouts – and you do not have to think about work to check both as they are everyday tools.
Retro stuff proves to be useful
We also use some hardware for communication – blackboard, pieces of paper and our smartphones to keep in touch with each other. Blackboard for explanations, pieces of paper as our memory notes hanging everywhere around and phones for everything else. These are really helpful and could prove to be much better than software.
Do not forget about networking with your own team, they are not less important than representatives of other companies. There is nothing better for a great cooperation than spending time together and having fun. Grab some board games, beer, make a LAN party or just do whatever you like, it will bring you closer to each other.
As many forms of communication are available, there are some worth mentioning and many that are not. It is the most important to choose the one that suits you best and makes the team feel good. Proper communication is very often the most important thing in a team, so it is sometimes better to spend some more time looking for a communicator and be satisfied with your choice.
If you have any idea that could improve our work, share it with us. We are still working hard to improve our communication and find the best tools to exchange our thoughts.