How do we Slack-ified Stentle

Who we are

Stentle is an Italian startup, we’re based in Milano at Talent Garden. We’re a small team at the moments: 4 Full-Stack Developer (2 of them working from remote), 1 Creative/UX Designer, 1 Project Manager/ScrumMaster and 1 System Engineer (working from remote too).

Stentle mission is to create an OmniChannel Platform in the Cloud that can be used for building *-commerce initiatives working coherently among different channels (mobile, web, social, wearable technologies, etc) as well as individually (ie. standard e-commerce website or social commerce app); we offer the possibility, if physical spaces are present (ie. traditional retailers), to leverage smart sensors (like Beacon), Rfid tags or Digital Signage devices to build an innovative and engaging experience for the final customer.

Smart Store (Illustrative)

Our toolbox

At Stentle we are strongly believers that Agile Methodologies and Devops drive huge benefits for team who adopt them, so our toolbox includes:

  • Jira + Agile: for managing our project execution; our iterations last 2 weeks and we do constantly use Epics, Stories and Sub-Tasks, all of them are put on the Agile Board and through it we can see the advancement of projects without generating overhead on the team.
  • BitBucket: as a shared source repository, perfectly integrated with Jira.
  • Hangout: for managing all the communication with remote teammates for daily, planning and review meetings but also for unplanned talks.
  • Boundary: is a great tool that act a central point of app monitoring.

One Tool to Rule Them All

What we quickly find out is that all the before mentioned tools, plus email misuse and Skype as a glue among them and the team, would have soon introduced entropy.

In other words we needed a tool that help our team to scale out quickly but also to increase efficiency in overall team communication.

We found out the Slack was the answer, let me briefly explain how.

Slack allows:

  • 1-to-1 communication among team mates, that quickly replaced Skype (or similar).
Stentle R&D
  • Private Groups: we configured one group for each project we’re running; every team member is invited to the most appropriate group. This configuration drastically reduced the email usage, helping keep all the communication in a common place easily reachable by all team members (also by who will join the team in the future). We also created two special groups one for sharing all documents that can be useful for the team (the Library) and another one for sharing links that can help us in our unstructured R&D Activities (R-D).
Stentle Devops Channel
  • Public Channels: we have one General Channel for everything not addressed by other channels/gropus, one each for receiving updates from BitBucket and Jira and one, called Devops, where our servers can “talk to the team” when outages happens so we can quickly intervene. Bitbucket, Jira and Devops channels are helping us in increase team awareness of what is happeing around and, nevertheless, team sense of responsability.
Stentle BitBucked channel

Next Steps

As we are a startup we’re still strongly working on improve our development process and the next main area we want to address are:

  • Requirements Management: we’re already using Balsamiq for wireframing and Invision for UX detailed specification; on top of this we’re using GDrive for generic purpose documentation (we do LOVE co-editing!). We’re figuring out the best way of integrate all of them with Slack (something automated)
  • Continuous Integration: we’re going to install and configure a continuous integration tool, probably Jenkins, once it will be running it for sure will go to write their actions and results on Devops channel.
  • CRM: both “traditional” (when you use Mailchimp or similar for DEM, Mandrill or similar for transactional email) than social will be integrated with Slack. So anybody can see if a user joined our newsletter or somebody tag Stentle within Social Network. The idea is to give maximum visibility of what’s going on among different channels to the team, increasing the general sense of belonging.

Conclusions

These are just some of the infinite possibilities of communication automation & integration offered by Slack. Some of them are already well known, while other will surely born thanks to team imagination :-)

We at Stentle love it and we strongly encourage every team to give Slack a chance.

If the team will show some kind of adoption resistance (“We already use Skype/Hangout/emails/etc, why introduce a new tool?!”) try to hold on because ever the most strong opposition will quickly surrend after looking at the advantages introduced.

And what about your Slack experience? Any idea to share?

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Tech Entrepreneur, Co-Founder and CEO of Stentle.com (a M-Cube Group company since 2019) — AI Advisor - Retail Transformation & E-Commerce Expert

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