Slack has been working to beef up the product recently for its larger customers. A couple of weeks ago that involved more sophisticated security tools. Today, it was the admins’ turn to get a couple of new tools that help make it easier to manage Slack in larger settings.
For starters, Slack has created an Announcements channel as a way send a message to the entire organization. It would typically be used to communicate about administrative matters like changes in HR policy or software updates. The Announcements channel allows admins to limit who can send messages, and who can respond, so the channels stay clean and limit chatter.
Illan Frank, director of product for enterprise at Slack, says that companies have been demanding this ability because they need a clean channel with reliable information from a trusted source.
“With this feature, [admins] can set this channel up as an announcement-only channel with the right folks in [IT or HR] who can who can make announcements, and now this is a clean, controlled environment for important announcements and updates,” Frank explained.
The other piece Slack is announcing today is new APIs for creating templated workspaces. This is especially useful in environments where users have to create a bevy of new spaces frequently. Picture a university with professors setting up spaces for each of their classes with a set of tools for students, who all have to join the space.
Doing this manually, especially when everybody is setting them up at the same time at the beginning of a semester, could be tedious and chaotic, but by providing programatic templated workflows, it brings a level of automation to the process.
Frank says while workspaces in and of themselves are not new, the automation layer is. “What is new about this is the API and the ability to automate the creation and management of these connectors [programmatically with code],” he said.
For starters, it will allow automated workspace creation based on information in Web forms. Later, the company will be adding scripting capabilities to build even more sophisticated workflows with automated configuration, apps and content.
Finally, Slack is automating the approval process for tools used inside Slack channels or workspaces. Pre-approved applications can be added to Slack automatically, while those not on the approved list would have to through a separate process to get approved.
The Announcements tool is available starting today for Plus and Enterprise Grid plans. The API and approval tools will be available soon for Enterprise Grid customers.