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Migrating from Slack: Inside the trend and spend

The availability of all-in-one collaboration apps, like Microsoft Teams and Google Workspace, is spurring some companies to ask if it's time to migrate from Slack.

Slack was the team collaboration tool of choice for many early adopters. But some organizations are now looking to migrate off the app in favor of larger, standardized collaboration platforms, like Microsoft Teams and Google Workspace. While corporate circumstances vary, it can be difficult for CFOs to justify paying for two chat tools for their company, especially in the current economic environment.

Yet, while Slack migration can look appealing on a spreadsheet, there's often more to the story. Hidden costs, such as onboarding and replicating complex workflows and customizations, may make what looks to be a simple migration far more expensive than business stakeholders might initially estimate.

Trends pushing Slack migrations

IT industry layoffs have dominated recent headlines, along with reports from companies cutting back on perks and benefits for those employees who have remained. Companies are also more closely examining their SaaS subscriptions, with Slack among those services facing the budget knife.

It's only natural that a CFO sees buying Slack licenses, along with licenses from Google Workspace or Microsoft 365, as duplicative. Slack and Zoom, for example, are a common pairing because of Slack integration. Moving to a platform that includes video conferencing also creates the opportunity to eliminate Zoom licenses as well. Balance sheets in difficult economic times always overrule the preferred applications of company employees if more budget-friendly options are available.

Concerns about Slack are also being fueled in part by financial hiccups from Salesforce Inc., which acquired the vendor for $27.7 billion in 2021. With recent high-profile layoffs at Salesforce and a Slack executive exodus, Slack customers can be excused if they feel unmoored about Slack's future direction. Declining margins at Salesforce and longer enterprise sales cycles might also lead to radical pricing changes.

While integrations are a Slack superpower, they come with some management and security overhead that could exceed the ability of IT operations and security teams adjusting to leaner budgets.

Business needs for a Slack migration

There are business needs that go beyond market trends in fueling a Slack migration. If your business operates in a regulated industry, then a move off Slack to Teams or Meet could be driven by security and compliance requirements. A company policy that dictates the use of standard platforms, such as Microsoft or Google, may also prompt a move off Slack.

While integrations are a Slack superpower, they come with some management and security overhead that could exceed the ability of IT operations and security teams adjusting to leaner budgets. In addition, Slack's Huddles video offering isn't as competitive feature-wise with the video options in Microsoft Teams and Google Meet. As a result, the all-in-one nature of these Slack alternatives might make it more compelling for companies evaluating collaboration software.

Enabling a constructive discussion about moving away from Slack

A constructive conversation around migrating from Slack falls between understanding the technology and workflow implications versus the need to reduce IT spending. IT and financial leaders must come to the table for these discussions.

The end-user community must also have a seat at the table. Use them as sources of information about productivity and project data that illustrate trends, such as budgets and time sheets.

It's up to the IT stakeholders responsible for Slack to present an accurate accounting of the costs -- especially the hidden costs -- of a Slack implementation.

Rebuilding customizations and integrations

Slack comes with hidden costs like any other IT system, particularly if your department and project teams extensively use Slack integrations and custom workflows. Dropping Slack in favor of an alternative means your organization must consider the costs associated with rebuilding those integrations and custom workflows on your new chat platform. Consider the following.

Rebuilding Not rebuilding

Replicating the customizations and integrations not always possible

Potentially reintroduces human error from the manual processes that the customizations were built to eliminate
New costs and additional time for having to integrate SaaS and other back-end systems into your new chat system Work slowdowns due to loss of productivity detrimental to project timelines
Redesigning or revising already established workflows Disrupting established workflows
Opportunity to review and perfect existing customizations and integrations N/A

Retraining employees is another consideration. When it was an independent company, Slack made a lot of savvy moves with integrations to other apps, customization options and its mobile apps. This made Slack popular among employees of startups. Converting employees to Teams or Meet means reorienting workers to a new platform, which can be time-consuming and expensive. Productivity, meanwhile, may nosedive as employees adjust to the new software.

Know your discussion points in dollars and cents

A constructive discussion about migrating off Slack brings together business and technology stakeholders with input from the user community. Be prepared to speak in budget numbers that resonate with the CFO and other executive stakeholders who may want to strike Slack from your IT budget. In a down economy, end users' allegiance for Slack isn't enough to persuade executive management to keep the app. Regardless of your opinion, any discussion about whether or not to retain Slack is dictated by business reasons and budget numbers.

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