Trending in Business – Technology and Team Communication

By Grant T. Smith

slack clearlineThis week at Clearline we introduced a new technology within our offices. It is not one that we expect to use as an interface with our clients, but rather it is an application that is designed to improve communication within the firm.


We have adopted Slack, a technology that is described as “team communication for the 21st century.”


The basic premise is that it can dramatically reduce internal email while improving many other aspects of internal communication:


  • Conversations are organized into channels, which are divided into topics or spheres of influence.  Those conversations can be private or public. This means that email back and forth is reduced and being cc’ed on conversations vanishes. I can look at a conversation and read it or pass if desired.
  • Direct messages are available, if for example, I want to talk to Jeff about something immediately.
  • Apparently I can take calls, although I have not played with that yet.
  • Slack allows me to drag and drop files into the conversation. This makes them available to everyone on the team, in one convenient place.


One of the other key aspects is the ability to search the archives well. Obviously, if we have just rolled it out we have not really used that yet, but it is encouraging. For example, I am starting an audit early next week. That means:


  • Two people will be in the field preparing the work;
  • One person will be managing the file and supporting the work from the office,
  • I will be contributing by providing sage advice when required and history when requested;
  • And finally someone will be in the lawyer’s office reviewing resolutions.


All of those people will be asking questions about risks and accounting issues. Answers can be shared to the general auditing team for additional input or used in the engagement team, where they will be available next year to support the history.


Slack also supports employee engagement beyond communication. One of the areas of interest to us is the ability to use it as a tool for rewards. Currently each person gets five virtual tacos everyday (yes, I said five tacos,) and they can give those to colleagues. If you are gifted five tacos, you can exchange them for a Starbucks coffee – kind of cool – and a little quirky (like me, but without the cool).


We have concerns. Will this mean that I reduce the email burden or this will be another time waster for our busy life? Will it mean that my email world can focus on your needs while Slack supports my team or will the two conflict?


Do you use Slack in your business?  Do you have tips or have you found traps?  Drop me a line and let me know.