An important step in a project is to define organizational processes – and that becomes a major challenge. The set of groupware tools must meet the standards and workings of modern technology. This article aims at helping readers choose groupware they are likely to integrate into the working environment, taking advantage of information about the most popular collaboration software.
Groupware is usually chosen by taking into account managers’ personal preferences. Many software appears to lack particular features necessary for work optimization. For example, some have limited options for chat management, ineffective scheduling, lack of interoperability, etc.
No matter what the work environment at the company, communication between colleagues is crucial. Information exchange is beneficial for building employees’ trust and loyalty. Further, knowledge sharing improves productivity and maintains workplace discipline. To optimize open interactions, most companies implement workplace communication software. This allows managers to monitor how employees perform their jobs, fulfill tasks and improve themselves daily.
For the past two years, the groupware technology market has been dominated by Slack. The tool guarantees smooth data transfer, a user-friendly UI, and IRC-style features, and unlimited chat rooms ( thanks to SSO). However, with the advent of Facebook’s Workplace, the statistics have changed dramatically. Today, Facebook continually expands Workplace functionality to compete with newer technology.
Slack launched in 2013 and was a huge success with an estimated 140,000 daily active users in a year. Today, the tool has reached a considerable number of users, namely 10 million active customers and 85,000 paid customers.
It is known that Slack encompasses an easy-to-use and agile interface packed with goodies, such as:
While the company was not the first to integrate groupware – the most prominent technology companies like Microsoft have been trying to globalize similar products for years – Slack was the first program to introduce chat rooms. Moreover, they have integrated the hashtag feature to provide a means to set the tone for a specific chat and allow participants to connect the bot to the tools they use.
Slack’s usability and functionality fit within global labor ethics. It does optimize the workflow through the compendium of administrative procedures and harmonizes task management and workload sharing. Namely, you can share a report via direct message, set up a private group of specific employee team e.g., team leaders.
Private groups are instant chats with history and search settings applied. Therefore, the user can have unlimited access to chat history and content.
All the content including chat history, docs, and links integrates with Google extensions. Access to famous platforms like Google Hangouts, Twitter, Asana, GitHub, etc. enables posting updates to channels i.g., you can publish your social media posts directly to Slack.
Bots send automated responses when the user is unable to send text messages. Moreover, they can be modified to have characteristics like those of regular users. Namely, Slackbots can have names, profiles, photos, etc.
Slack users can choose between three tiers: a free, standard, and paid plan.
With the free plan, you get access to mobile and desktop versions of integrated apps. Besides, it offers one-to-one voice and video calls and 5 GB of message storage.
The standard Slack plan features expended 10 GB of file storage plus guest access, unlimited apps integration, unlimited searching, group voice/video calls, custom profiles, etc.
The paid plan offers the above package with the addition of 24/7 customer support 20 GB of storage per member, real-time Active Directory syncs, 99.99% guaranteed uptime, and SAML-based single sign-on (SSO).
Slack’s distinctive functions include banned email, advanced chats rooms, and increased productivity. It is hard to say whether Facebook’s Workplace will replace the celebrated groupware or not. This is because Slack has gained a firm foothold in the market, specifically because of in-demand tech-dependant features. To compete, Workplace developers will need to work out factors concerned with software.
We’ve learned that Facebook defines itself as a company that aims to have a niche in various sectors apart from social media. This is a common practice for start-ups who have entrenched the Internet as social platforms but soon began to expand to other fields. The main goal of Zuckerberg & Co. is to make Facebook an ultimate platform used in every type of social connection. This aspired goal leads us to the most recent update: Workplace. Workplace has little similarity with Slack, except that both are groupware. The software is based on Facebook’s habitual features like Timeline, Messenger, and Facebook Live.
Apart from application extensions, Facebook-based groupware offers a Profile, News Feed, and Live video features.
Just like in Facebook media platform, users can set up a personal profile and make Timeline updates. News Feed allows you to keep track of projects you are interested in.
This feature enables employees from different parts of the world to reach each other in real-time, host a conference call, stream corporate events and meetings live and comment on them.
Also, there are new features that Workplace Offers; among them is Multi-Company Groups. Groups connect employees from different organizations (a common means of collaboration space that has become a necessity since cross-industry partnerships grow steadily).
Workplace has a mobile version for both iOS and Android, and they do beat Slack versions by several things. First, Workplace is built on the core UI and UX of Facebook social media. This means the user gets a familiar interface. Second, Group chats in Workplace are private by default. Therefore, to set up an open one, you will need to add each member to it.
Of course, some factors make Workplace substantially inferior to Slack. For example, the tool’s interface is counterintuitive. Also, it lacks customization features and keywords alerts. However, you can still adjust cover photos in Events or Groups and notifications for them.
In the future, Facebook promises to refresh the software’s design and optimize the major features. Even though Facebook’s technology is considered to be the most effective, the company needs to prove it to consumers by showing the beneficial sides of using Workplace.
The hardest people to convince are employers who focus their efforts on maintaining high productivity; they believe that employees need attention to be motivated to show great performance. This was taken into consideration when building in controls intended to block unrelated News Feed updates. But still, the introduction of the “control” feature is not enough when it comes to convincing the users; a cautious employee needs to see whether it facilitates productivity.
Pricing. Both Workplace and Slack have Freemium plans. In Workplace, Standard plans are free, whereas, in Slack, the charge is $6,67.
Signing up. Workplace offers some sort of extensions but only to those who have signed up with work email. Slack does not differentiate its users.
Onboarding. Until recently, Slack provided users with few introductory pointers. Now, they do not give any explanation at all. In contrast, Workplace provides text snippets while you are exploring the software.
Interface and Вesign. In Slack, the left sidebar can be adjusted according to your preferences. In Facebook’s tool, your customization abilities are limited to Group or Events cover photos.
Communication. In both tools, you can have direct messaging and group chats. However, Workplace provides additional means of communication like Groups and Personal Pages.
Notifications. In comparison to Workplace, Slack offers advanced notification settings. As for Workplace, you can set up some general notifications manually.
Task Management. Slack has an Actions feature that allows you to manage tasks via external tools. Within Workplace, you can create Events in the Calendar, but they are not visible as tasks and have limited managerial features.
Voice and video calls. In Workplace, you can add up to 50 participants in both free and paid plans. Slack users are limited to the number of 15 people.
Integrations. Slack offers up to 1500+ integrations in the Paid Plan. Workplace connects with 60+ third-party apps.
File sharing. Although Workplace has unlimited file storage, it lacks a single space for all files. Moreover, Slack can transfer large files (up to 1 GB), compared to Workplace Chat (25 MB).
To conclude, there are numerous factors to consider when it comes to defining the best communication software. Facebook draws on features that have previously proved effective and has established the platform as an ultimate social network. If developers adopt the tool following common organizational values, features like News Feed, Messenger, Live Video would be hard to beat.