Who's Slack?

For those who may not have heard of it, 'Slack' is an online project communication application. It's very popular amongst development teams as a way of sharing information, documents, comments etc. You can create specific channels and send direct messages to a team member.

I started using Slack a couple of years ago and soon found it a solution to an age-old freelancers problem. That being, just how do you keep your client constantly informed of what your doing? I'm not just talking about a 'catch-up' every few days (or weeks even!), nor am I talking about that 'agile' classic of the morning stand-up....'Sorry the dog ate my homework'.

No, I'm talking about a constant stream of information, which allows the client (usually the project manager) to scan through what you're working on....

The solution for me, was simple.  I use 'Slack'!

Instead of just using Slack as a means of communication, I use it as a way to track what I'm working on, what code I've written and what my thought patters are. In addition, I post regular screen grabs from my development and the resultant output on the development website.

How best to use Slack

Now, you might say that this is very time-consuming, but it's not really.... You can take a screen-grab (alt-ctrl-prt sc) and past it directly into Slack. Then add a quick comment. Explain your thought process, and Bob's your uncle! (He's not, it's just a British saying - I've no idea who Uncle 'Bob' is).

Before you know it, you have a track record of what you're working on, what you have been working on and what's going to happen next.

This isn't the same as tracking 'issues' on a project management app (for example Jira). This is a steady 'stream of consciousness' of your work.

I've found that there are a couple of huge additional advantages to this approach (beyond keeping your client up to speed). Firstly, because you have a track record of what you've been doing and why, it's easy to look back at any point of the project and work out the reason you did something (which we all know, isn't always easy on a large, complex project - 'why did you add the horses name to the classic car Json feed? Er....').

Secondly, when it comes to billing (which I do at the end of each week), you can easily create a list of the work done. A bit like a list of the work done from your local garage. I've found that this avoids any arguments about the resultant invoice.

Finally, once everyone gets used to the workflow, it becomes almost natural. 

Generally, I work a few days in the client's office, followed by working remotely (I can only be called 'Dude' for so long, before the young and talented realise I'm a bit old for that title - don't ask what they call me after that...). What amuses me, is when I sit in the client's office near to the front-end developer and they still use 'Slack' to talk to me....

So, in short, maybe using 'Slack' in a more proactive way, is the 'agile' solution you have been looking for?

Just  a thought....

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