Workshop your team’s workflows in Slack
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Slack workflows is a great tool available to anyone with a Slack Pro account. It’s a system where you can automate certain tasks within your Slack team, so you can minimise the number of separate programmes used, and do more on Slack itself. Because Slack can integrate with other apps, some of them are compatible with workflows, which opens up many more possibilities in making your workflow smoother and faster.
If this seems like something you’d like, but it sounds like a bit too much setup, Slack has also cleverly made preset workflows available for download on their website, which can then be imported into your app. You can check out their page on workflows here, and download some preset workflows here.
How to create a workflow
Firstly, it’s important to note that workflows are specific to a single Slack channel, so if you’d like one to feature in more than one of your company’s channels you’ll need to copy it to each relevant location. Luckily, this can be done quite easily by going into the workflow manager, copying the workflow in question, and setting it to a different channel.
To create a workflow you need to go to the plus icon at the bottom left of the Slack text box > Create a workflow.
You have the option to set up the workflow to be triggered by different types of events:
Manually start the workflow by going into the plus menu and selecting the workflow you’d like to begin. This is useful for most tasks that need a lot of user input.
New channel member
When someone joins a channel you can trigger a workflow to do certain tasks immediately. This is great for welcoming new users to a channel or team or to give the new user an overview of the channel.
In channels where this workflow is active, you can set certain emojis to implement specific tasks when a user reacts to a message. This can be useful to notify users of their team’s responses to messages based on predefined emojis used.
Scheduled date and time
Workflows with this trigger are activated using chosen dates and times, and this option is great to use for any tasks or reminders that need to be done at a specific time, or are recurring. It takes the task out of someone’s headspace, so they can focus on other things.
Enemies of HTTP beware, this is an advanced option where you can set up workflows to be triggered when another external system or service sends a URL web request. URLs are generated after publishing the workflow, and you can use any data accompanying the request as part of the workflow. Learn more here.
Workflows we’ve found useful
Briefing in tasks
Using a form-based workflow, you can submit a task for relevant team members to complete, and even assign it to them. It’s a great way to manage briefs because you can:
- type all of the needed information out at your leisure without having to navigate the Slack text box,
- ensure you feature all of the information the assigned member may need by filling in required form fields, and
- make sure the assigned member receives a notification about the task.
Adding information to a spreadsheet
This option lets you use Slack’s form-based submission feature to add or edit rows in a spreadsheet, and is really useful in keeping our admin on track without having loads of spreadsheets open.
In our case, we have set up certain workflows to add to our spreadsheets, and send notifications to the Pomegranite team member who manages that specific sheet, so they can check the details.
It can be tricky to remember recurring tasks if you don’t have some sort of reminder set up, but some of our team members have solved this by setting up workflows to send reminders for regularly required tasks, or once-off reminders on the go.
You can set this workflow to complete a range of tasks, including sending a reminder message, creating a poll, deleting rows in a spreadsheet, and more, based on your integrations.
Automation and depersonalisation
At Pomegranite we’re a people-first company, and a really important point came up when we looked into adding workflows to our daily Slack usage. We decided that we don’t want to automate something that would take away from a human experience with our team, especially as we’re all working from home.
We had a really great team discussion about the possibilities of what these workflows could do for our, well, workflow, without compromising the little day-to-day interactions we have within the team, which make our company culture as warm and open as it is. We took the time to interrogate whether any relevant workflow was truly saving us time, or instead removing a simple conversation with a colleague, and we’d recommend any company do the same in relation to their automation needs.
Workflows are a really great option for Slack users, especially as many of us have begun working from home full time. For companies it’s a good tool for request submissions, getting quick feedback, and keeping track of a wider team, and, once the setup is out of the way, it can help you work smarter.