14 Dec 2023

Tool Talk: Why Picking the Right One Matters (Slack is not always the answer)

It's often tempting to fall into the trap of when you have a hammer, everything is a nail.


We all do this, especially when choosing a tool for a project. It may be because we have company adoption of the tool, we know its features, and we just like using it.

However, let's chat about why that might not always be the best idea. For illustrative purposes, I’m going to use everyone’s favorite (and sometimes not-so-favorite) workplace app, Slack, as our guinea pig.

Slack: The Go-To That Might Not Always Fit

Slack is the Swiss Army knife of workplace communication. It feels like it can do anything. But there are a lot of instances where Slack isn't the right tool for the job.

Let's say you're going to launch a new product and you want to use Slack as your centralized communication tool.

Distractions, Distractions Everywhere

Product launches are like that intense, final boss level in a video game. You need all the focus you can get. You've tried to beat this boss hundreds of times and the only way for you to actually win is to dedicate every ounce of focus in your body.

You and your team message back and forth to create a game plan. Suddenly, someone playing a different campaign needs your help. Notifications are popping up everywhere. GIFs are flying around. Fun? Yes. Conducive to laser-focused work? Hmm, not so much.

For something like a product launch that requires focus to hit deadlines, segmenting communication out of existing channels to reduce distraction is a must.

Although it may be slower, introduce a learning curve, and require a new habit, it helps reduce distraction and centralizes relevant information in case you need to revisit it.

Which brings me to my next point...

Where in the Slack Was That Message Again?

Ever tried finding that one important message in a Slack thread? It’s like a treasure hunt, but not the fun kind. Slack is great for realtime collaboration but when it comes to keeping all your must-have info in one easy-to-find place? Well, let’s just say, there’s room for improvement.

Product launches involve a lot of decision-making, timeline management, feedback, and iterations oftentimes across many teams. Segmenting out workstreams, conversations, and remembering everything is an impossible task and Slack makes it harder to track down everything.

Use a tool that helps you centralize conversations, deliverables, and build individual workstreams, so you're not always trying to remember and chase down what was decided.

How to Pick Your Tools Like a Pro

So, how do we avoid falling into the ‘same-tool’ trap? Simple:

  • What Do You Really Need?: Build out your use cases and optimize for bottlenecks (cross-team collaboration, hitting deadlines, managing deliverables, etc).
  • Understand Your Team’s ~Vibe~: Is your team tech-saavy? Do they mostly communicate in GIFs? Choose a tool that's accessible to your team.

Wrapping It Up

For the record, I love Slack and am a power user. My point here is to make sure that you choose the right tool for the job – you wouldn’t wear flip-flops to a 100 meter dash, right?

Don't get analysis paralysis about choosing a tool either. At times, it might be more practical to start with an existing tool, learn from the experience and make a business case for a new one the nex time around. 🛠️🚀