It's not every day you get to work with an industry-leading training and education company like Product School. Especially one that is so invested and committed to the future of work being fully remote, globally represented, digital and async in most everything they do.
If you're interested learning more about them and growing or building a career in product management, you should definitely check out them out. They have helped thousands of professionals learn the skills needed to build and launch successful tech products (plus they have a free Slack Community you can join here).
In this blog post, we'll review how we helped them implement improvements to their Slack workspace to help drive value via channel management, automating processes, creating team connection and setting them up for long term success -- and all that in just a two months!
Product School had been using Slack for some time, but there were no clear policies on channel creation, tracking, ownership, lifecycle and management. To address this, we conducted a discovery of the existing state and reviewed all channels and processes. Additionally, since they are on the Slack Pro plan, they did not have access to more advanced Channel Management features so we used Slack core functionality to improve their processes.
We archived or combined existing channels where applicable and updated those that remained with detailed Descriptions, Topics, Channel Managers, and Bookmarks to improve their discoverability. Plus, when new members joined certain channels, they triggered a new channel member workflow which introduced them to the channel and why it existed. The process also cleaned up their legacy channels in a one-time effort, ensuring long-term documentation.
For new channels, we created a request process directly in Slack that fed into a Google Sheet, providing a log of every channel request to date, who approved it, what the name was, and who created it. We also had a similar process for archiving requests. This gave Product School full visibility and ownership of their channels and enabled them to manage them from a single place in Slack.
We've observed that very few companies use Workflow Builder, and even fewer use them extensively. However, Product School is now one of the companies that does! 🙂
At the beginning of the project, they had only a handful of workflows, but in just two months, we had created over 40. These automated processes spanned across business units and teams and were triggered in various ways, including new members joining channels, shortcuts, emojis, and scheduled events.
Here are some of the things we automated:
Slack Channel Requests (New and Archive)
End User Slack Training (x2)
Intros to Request Channels (x6)
I'm On It (emoji triggered)
Friendly Reminders (x2) (emoji triggered)
Social Prompts (x4)
Among the workflows we created, some were designed for fun, while others were created to standardize and automate previously manual or random processes. As a result, those involved in these processes see their work much easier to manage.
And note, these workflows were all self contained within Slack. Towards the end of the project, we worked with their platform and systems team to provide advisory guidance on how to create workflows that connect and automate processes in external systems - specifically utilizing Salesforce Platform for Slack.
From the beginning, it was evident that the Product School team was an amazing and fun group of people. I even connected with non-project team members on Donut to get to know more about the team and company -- and had a great time doing so! From the first time we met Carlos Gonzalez de Villaumbrosia, the CEO, it was clear he also deeply valued incorporating fun into the workplace through Slack.
To promote employee engagement and entertainment, we implemented workflows in their #playground channel. These workflows encouraged sharing and fun, with my personal favorites being "Mistake Party" which promoted learning from mistakes and "Favorite Places this Month" which allowed the global remote team to share where they had been working.
Enablement and Training
Not one synchronous training call. No training the trainer. No hour long training calls with 100 people. 😯
All training and enablement was done async-first within dedicated temporary Slack channels. We custom built messages with links and shared Clips of us walking through different training that we prioritized. It was dropped in a channel and thread for everyone to see as they had time to prioritize it. We did this for both Slack Champions and Slack Administrators.
The 26 internal champs (~23% of the company) were trained on Workflow Builder and now can see opportunities to use it - or choose one out of the 40 and clone it for their team. Our secret super power here was enabling the champs to understand Slack and its power to get them to drive usage and improvements long term organically within their teams. And in Product School's case, anyone in the workspace can create a workflow, so the sky is the limit here!
For the Slack End Users, we created two Workflow Builder flows triggered by Shortcut in #general that walked users through Slack Basics and the Slack Productivity Game (referenced in another article here).
Additionally, for net new hires to Slack, we took documentation that lived outside of Slack and moved it into Slack to be triggered via a new channel member workflow which contained self-paced onboarding. Messages were sent via Slackbot that walked the user through Slack and how it is set up at Product School. This removed the need for a new hire to go to an external system to get trained on Slack and for someone to walk them through it. Essentially we automated onboarding via Slack for new Slack end users.
Our team was able to achieve significant improvements in a short timeframe by leveraging Slack's ability to automate repetitive tasks and make work easier. Rather than a big "transformational" overhaul, we made incremental changes and rolled them out to individual teams and channels, building momentum and value across the company quickly. This approach resulted in both organic and executive buy-in and made the project a great success. We are excited to continue to see the benefits for the company!
And for them, the fun does not stop here! With the advisory help we provided, their internal team will now be reviewing their usage of Zapier to Slack integrations and looking at other Slack apps and integrations to leverage including implementing Salesforce for Slack. They show an amazing understanding and fundamental difference to other companies as they continue to optimize for the future of work with their global remote async-first working style. What a fun project! 💯