Teams across companies use Slack as a central location to discuss projects. However, the majority of project management and execution is carried out in other specialized project management software. Such constant back and forth between platforms causes distraction in daily workflows. To combat such context switching, team members may enable focus mode on Slack – but that’s additional work for your employees to implement such productivity hacks.
Using Slack workflow builder – it is possible to connect various software used for managing projects and share data between them to avoid switching back and forth.
In this guide, you will learn how to use Slack automation for project management. Key takeaways include:
- 5 Slack automation workflows across managing meetings, status updates, task assignments, progress tracking, and setting alerts.
- Useful Slack integrations for project management
- Best practices for using Slack automation for project management
Can you use Slack for project management?
Teams and companies can use Slack as a real-time communication channel to discuss projects and use Slack integrations to share data with your project management tools. For this purpose, Slack Workflow Builder is a useful feature to make Slack a centralized place for keeping project teams on the same page.
You can use Slack for below project management tasks:
- File sharing: Slack allows document sharing across formats and collaboration using its in-built document editor.
- Surveying: conduct polls and surveys to make quick async decisions
- Updates: share real-time project updates with teams using Slack automation
- Search conversations: Slack has a powerful search feature to track async decisions made in chats.
5 Slack automation workflows for real-time project management communications
The features mentioned in the previous section are built on Slack. It is possible to automate more complex project management tasks using Slack Workflow Builder.
Note: While you can collaborate and communicate on Slack in real time, you cannot do serious project management that may require specialized software. For this, you need to use Slack integrations to pass data to your project management tools.
Let us understand 5 useful Slack automation workflows:
1. Create and share project briefs on Slack channel using Slack Canvas
If you’re using Slack as your primary project management tool or a communication tool, you can use Slack Canvas to share important documents and resources with the project team.
What is Slack Canvas?
Slack Canvas feature enables seamless documentation to ensure everyone in a Slack channel or Slack conversation window is on the same page. It provides you with options to take meeting notes, create a to-do list, and attach resources like videos, files, links, etc.
You can access Slack Canvas on personal messages or Slack channels in the top right corner. It is also possible to limit access to Canvas to specific people within the Slack channel.
For example, you can click on ‘Resources’ and start adding important links, text messages with heading formatting, emojis, checklists, and much more to create a project brief for your project team.
Slack Canvas allows collaboration via co-editing such that you can respond to threads or make changes to documents within the Canvas itself. You can add Slack workflows and even showcase data from integrations to build a comprehensive dashboard for your project team.
Learn more – Try Slack Canvas
2. Create a knowledge base for your project management team using Slack
Slack provides a powerful search feature that makes all documents, messages, and files accessible. Or, you can use Slack integrations to enrich data of your existing knowledge base apps from Slack conversations or meetings conducted.
Use Slack search effectively to find documents and messages –
Using the /kb command, Slack allows you to create a knowledge base of files, links, or messages that are useful for the project team.
To build a knowledge management base, your team needs to be educated to practice documenting their work. If good documentation is not a part of your work culture, then Slack has a powerful search feature to the rescue.
You can quickly find files based on your search query and further use filters for file type, channels, personal messages, dates, specific emojis used on the message, and much more. It can also search across your apps, bots, and workflows.
Use Slack integrations that help create and manage a knowledge base –
For a better user interface, you can send the data within Slack to your knowledge management software using integrations. Here are some Slack Apps and Slack bots for creating a knowledge Wiki outside Slack:
- Question base
3. Track project progress and share update
Slack allows you to create workflows to share project updates with your teams. Creating a workflow is useful for sharing recurring project updates like status reports, monthly business or product metrics, daily standup minutes of meetings, etc.
Here’s how to automate a recurring project update using Slack workflow builder:
Step-1: Open Workflow Builder from the ‘Tools’ option from your Slack’s dropdown options. Click on ‘See all templates’ and choose the ‘Send a scheduled message’ template option.
Step-2: Set up the start date, repeat time, and frequency for the recurring scheduled message. You can keep this workflow before your daily standups to have context to the meeting or replace it entirely to avoid meetings.
Step-3: Edit the message to be sent when the recurring workflow plays out.
Step-4: The template has an automated message that asks for updates from the Slack channel. You can avoid random messages popping up by including a simple form that streamlines taking project updates. Click on the ‘+’ icon below the first step, and select ‘Forms’. Then click on ‘Collect info in a form’.
Step-5: Edit the form details with questions you typically ask for updates and the answer format for each. Click ‘Save’ when you’re done adding all questions.
Step-6: Once you edit form details, the workflow builder will ask you to save the data in Google Sheets. Choose the relevant spreadsheet where the data from filled forms will be saved. Then, click ‘Save’.
Post this, you can publish the workflow and test it on your Slack channel. Or, you can add additional steps like a ‘thank you message’ or share a video call link to the standup meeting.
You can also integrate Slack with time tracking or project management tools that include the feature of sharing project updates.
4. Share client requests or support questions to Slack channel and direct messages
Support tickets or other emergencies are very time-sensitive situations to tackle. For this, you may want to make sure the relevant person in charge of the support ticket issue is informed on time.
It is possible to automate such notifications on Slack channels and personal messages to the assigned team members. Follow these steps to learn how to implement this workflow:
Step-1: Go to Slack workflow builder templates, and choose ‘Collect Information’.
Step-2: First, customize how to trigger this workflow.
Step-3: Edit the form questions that involve giving details about the support ticket and issue raised. When done, click ‘Save’.
Step-4: The template will automatically edit this step for you. Check if the variables are added correctly, and you can further customize the form response as per your brand.
Step-5: Add a step to this template to send separate messages to the person who used the workflow and to the person who submitted the form to inform them about the support ticket.
You can publish the workflow and test it on the Slack channels for troubleshooting.
It is also possible to modify the above Slack workflows for more specific project management use cases such as:
- Sprint planning: alert teams about sprint deadlines via scheduled messages.
- OKR tracking: check progress on OKR goals by taking KPI data and using third-party OKR tracking tools to visualize progress.
- Feedback on completed tasks: once you’ve collected data about work progress, it is possible to add a workflow to ask for feedback about the task using automated Slack workflow forms.
5. Create and assign project tasks to project team members
Slack allows creating To-Do lists using Slack Canvas where you can tag the assigned team member to notify. But it doesn’t help by default to get notifications, add deadlines to the tasks, or help with automated follow-ups. For this, you can create a task reminder using Slack by clicking on the ‘+’ icon and choosing ‘Workflow’.
It’s easier to manage and assign tasks effectively using third-party project management apps. Use the ‘/’ command and type the app name to trigger the task workflow.
Check out below list of project management app integrations with Slack:
We will take an example of Workast to showcase the steps:
Step-1: Install the Workast app from the ‘Apps’ option in the sidebar as shown. Click on ‘Add’ and it will take you to the Slack App Directory page. Follow the instructions by Slack for installing Workast in your Slack workspace.
You can check the tool here – Sign up for Workast
Step-2: Once you install Workast, it will automatically create a ‘learn-Workast’ channel to help onboard.
Step-3: Now, type /todo in the Slack message space followed by the task details. You can also tag a team member and mention deadlines as shown in the Step-2 screenshot.
You can follow similar steps for other project or task management apps of your choice.
Limitations of using Slack for project management
While Slack workflow builder and Slack app directory provide sufficient methods to manage projects within Slack itself – it still has below considerations before committing it as your stand-alone project management tool:
Too many Slack channels
Slack allows you to create dedicated channels that you can use for various projects. But these spaces are not for managing projects, it’s just a thread to communicate as groups.
But if you handle too many big or small-scale projects, then it can get difficult for your managers or supervisors to keep track of everything. Most updates shared are on Slack threads as comments – which makes it difficult to track conversations.
Your project team members may make their to-do lists or project progress trackers on 3rd party apps, thus keeping the manager out of the loop.
It is better, in the current state of Slack, to use it as a communication tool and pass any data to a dedicated project management software.
Limited features for sharing updates
There are two ways to know any update:
- Profile update: if you have a large team, it doesn’t make sense to keep checking their Slack status
- Workflow: you can schedule a workflow that collects project updates. But to take any action – you will still have to manually work on each update.
Instead, you can use Slack as a way to get the status update and sync it with your project management tool.
Not suitable for remote projects with low connectivity
Slack fails when your projects are more field-oriented, especially in remote locations where the internet could be an issue. Sharing sensitive files on Slack is also not advisable or you should share it by including passwords. For such cases, using specialized field service management tools is better as they take care of such shortcomings.
Use Slack as a space for productive project collaboration
Slack with its integrations and app directory makes it the perfect messaging tool for handling project communication. When you think about managing projects on Slack, use it as a channel for project teams to collaborate and sync the information shared to a project management tool of your choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Slack have a Gantt chart feature?
No – Slack does not provide a dedicated Gannt chart creator for your projects. But you can opt for 3rd party Slack integrations with apps like TeamGantt or Spreadsheet.com for Gantt chart capabilities. You can also explore sharing data from Slack to other mainstream project management tools that have Gannt chart features via automation tools like Zapier or Make.
Does Slack have a Kanban board feature?
No – Slack does not provide any dedicated Kanban Board features for your projects. But You can opt for 3rd party Slack integrations with apps like Workstreams, ScrumDo, Ora, Scrum Mate, SmartQ, or Spreadsheet.com for Kanban Board capabilities. You can also explore using automation tools like Make or Zapier to share data from Slack to other mainstream project management tools that have Kanban Board features.
Does Slack have a whiteboard feature?
Slack provides ‘Slack Canvas’ as a whiteboard-like space for creating wikis, collaborating by sharing documents, embedding Slack threads, creating to-dos, checklists, and more. It does not provide a dedicated whiteboard feature to brainstorm by drawing in real time. You can share the screen during Slack huddles and use the ‘pencil’ icon to draw or highlight anything on the screen (available only on Slack desktop).
Alternatively, you can opt for 3rd party Slack app integrations like SketchTogether, SketchBoard, Creately, or MarkUp Hero for annotations.
Can you use Slack for agile project management?
Slack provides integrations with 3rd party agile Slack apps like Scrum Mate or ScrumDo which provide dedicated agile project management capabilities.
Note that Agile is a ‘mindset’ and not something that you ‘do’. Slack is great as it is a capable communication tool – and seamless collaboration is an important aspect of agile project management.
Is Slack a project management tool?
Slack can provide a shared space for real-time project collaboration. As a stand-alone app, it is not suitable to perform advanced project management tasks like preparing charts, tracking real-time project progress, task management, etc. To do these tasks, you will need to design Slack workflow automation or use Slack App integrations with 3rd party project management software.
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