I was about to start this article with a sentence:
As communication, collaboration and productivity are steadily becoming more important ingredients of the today’s office workflow, we observe a mass of new tools being launched to meet the needs of the modern business teams.
But it’s, well, BORING.
Putting together a list of Slack competitors and complementing it with some generic phrases doesn’t add much value to your life, I guess. Sharing our own experience sounds like a much better idea.
I bet you are using Slack. Apparently it doesn’t meet your needs. You wouldn’t be searching for Slack alternatives otherwise, would you?
Our team faced the same issue. We used Slack, but it wasn’t a 100% perfect solution for us. We’ve realized there’s a market out there for another team communication tool. In a few words, that’s how Chanty has started.
We are building our own AI-powered team chat, so when I say we have spent several weeks analyzing each and every Slack competitor, I really mean several weeks of in-depth research. Moreover, we’ve actually tried to use several tools with our team for about a week.
The list we’ve put together includes the top apps that in our opinion are the best alternatives when it comes to communication and productivity tools. In other words, these are the apps that we consider worthy competitors to Slack and, with time, to our Chanty business messenger.
Numerous articles on Slack alternatives that Google displays in the top 10 search results list various CRM apps that could hardly be considered direct Slack competitors. This mispositioning may confuse the visitor who came for a Slack alternative. The authors of these articles are probably doing it for the sake of company numbers in the list. Well, if you are interested in numbers, you can visit alternativo.net and take a look at more than 100 different Slack competitors out there. If you are looking for quality rather than quantity, keep reading.
Why people choose Slack?
To give a fair assessment to Slack alternatives, we need to understand what this app actually is. Slack is a tool that mainly solves three issues – team communication (instant chat), collaboration (file sharing and integrations) and staying up-to-date (notifications). It lets you transfer all the important communications from email inbox and other SaaS software to one place.
Here’s a video telling us more about Slack.
Let’s see what are the “pros” of using Slack compared to other team communication alternatives.
- It’s hip. I’ve talked to many CEOs and founders and of course everyone knows about Slack. Moreover, they are convinced that everything about this tool is cool – from its sassy bots to charismatic copywriting. You’ve probably come across those Slack fans desperately hunting after Slack socks or stickers. When I ask my friends “What’s cool about this app?” it usually gets hard to explain. “Well, it’s popular and everyone is using it”. When I mention integrations, everyone knows about them, but very few I’ve talked to actually integrated Slack with the other software they use at work. Therefore, let’s continue the list with:
- Integrations. Slack has over 800 integrations with different software. If you are far from technology, the word itself may confuse you. The best way of understanding how integrations work is to explain it with the actual benefits you get using them at work. What software do you usually use? Mailchimp? Zendesk? Salesforce? Imagine all of the notifications from these software tools coming to one place – your team chat. There is no need to login every time to Intercom to reply your customer or go to Mailchimp to check on the new subscribers. You set up a channel for every software you use and from that moment receive all notifications in one place.
- Powerful search. You can search through messages and files. The content within the files you share as well Google docs and Dropbox is also searchable. Advanced search options allow you to apply search operators such as quotation marks to search for a specific phrase or asterisk (*) after a particular word to see all instances of it in Slack.
Ok, enough about Slack, it’s now time to take a look at the top Slack alternatives.
It wouldn’t be our blog if we didn’t put Chanty business messenger as a #1 on the list. We work hard on our product and believe it’s going to be a strong AI-powered and free Slack alternative. This is a product made with love and passion to technologies as well as to communication and collaboration. Having currently our product in beta, we admit Chanty isn’t yet perfect. However, this 2017 newcomer is definitely worth your attention.
Chanty vs Slack. How is it different?
Supporting the AI trend of this year, Chanty is designed to save time and increase team productivity by predicting responses and offering relevant reply options to choose from.
While Slack is getting more complicated with hundreds of little-used capabilities that get in the way of the handful that are really important, Chanty keeps the balance between features and usability. We have opted to stay simple yet to have just enough powerful features a team needs for effective work. It’s also a faster and more affordable solution offering twice as much storage space compared to Slack. What’s also attractive about Chanty is its unlimited searchable message history even in a freemium plan while the limit in Slack is 10K.
You can feel free to sign up and join our beta test community at https://www.chanty.com/. We are looking forward to your feedback.😊
We had been using HipChat messenger in our digital agency that we run along with Chanty even before Slack has launched. Given the fact that it was acquired by Atlassian in 2012, HipChat has joined their product suite along with Jira, Confluence, Bitbucket and other tools. This shapes their target audience mainly to research and development (R&D) teams.
HipChat vs Slack. How is it different?
One of the differences is you can host HipChat at your own server. Another “pro” is having a screen sharing function that Slack lacks. Besides, you will love the in-depth HipChat integrations with other Atlassian products if you are using them.
The searchable message history is limited by 25K messages while Slack gives you only 10K in a free plan. HipChat uses a freemium pricing model and when it comes to a “Plus” package, it’s also a much cheaper solution compared to Slack. The pricing is as low as $2 per user per month.
HipChat is a good choice if you and your team are highly tech savvy. Or if you have at least a system administrator who is ready to take care of this platform on a regular basis. Every time you want to create a channel or invite a user, you’ll need to ask your administrator for help.
Here’s how people who had switched from HipChat to Slack explained their choice:
Our experience using HipChat
After using HipChat for a week, Chanty team provided its own feedback. Here are some of the quotes:
It’s not likely I’d be using HipChat unless I’m a system administrator
Might be a good decision for enterprise, but definitely too complicated for SMBs
It adds extra value compared to Slack if you are using other products from the Atlassian package
Our team rated HipChat and other messengers we used according to these five parameters:
- Is it easy-to-start for you, on a scale of 1–5 ? (5 – very easy, 1 – isn’t easy at all)
- Is it easy-to-use for you? (5 – very easy, 1 – isn’t easy at all)
- On a scale of 1–5, rate how its features meet your business needs at work. (5 – meet perfectly, 1 – don’t meet)
- How many technical issues have you experienced (eg. chat not working, problems with file sharing, privacy settings, UI bugs, etc.) while using it? (5 – no issues, 1 – lots of issues)
- How likely are you to recommend it to your friends? (5 -very likely, 1- very unlikely)
50 is the maximum number of points that a chat could receive for each of the questions. Here’s how our small team of 10 people rated HipChat.
Due to our previous experience using HipChat it turned out to be a leader in the “Easy-to-use”.
Choose HipChat if:
- You and your team are tech savvy or you have a system administrator on board who can set you up and support the app regularly;
- You are using other Atlassian products such as Jira, Confluence, Bitbucket, etc;
- You need a self-hosted solution;
- You want to save money on a team communication tool.
Flock is a messaging app founded in 2014 in India. (Slack was founded in 2013). This communication tool features group chat, video and audio calls, screen sharing and more. The polls and to-do lists are already in the app so you don’t need to set up an integration for it. Flock is the only app among the listed competitors supporting multiple languages interface. It supports Portuguese, Russian and Spanish languages.
Flock vs Slack. How is it different?
We asked the guys from Flock how are they better than Slack. Here are some points they’ve outlined:
- Flock claims to have a better and more user friendly interface than Slack. However, this is an arguable statement. We have spent a whole week testing Flock out and our team considered 5-column interface a bit too complicated.
- Flock is more affordable compared to Slack with a pricing plan starting at $3 per user per month.
- Flock offers an unlimited message history as well as unlimited integrations in its free package.
Our experience using Flock
I think we should give some credit to Flock by admitting that our team tested out this messenger for the longest period of time compared to other Slack alternatives. Interface as well as design look and feel pretty good – I personally felt a strong appeal for the parakeet green color used in Flock. Although, the 5-column desktop interface was a bit too much for our team as I mentioned earlier. Nevertheless, it turned out to be a pretty easy-to-use solution.
The one big issue we’ve experienced with Flock was a message history loss for over than 8 hours that really knocked us out. It happened on a third day of our test period – our entire message history both in channels and private rooms was unavailable during a whole working day which really dazed us out.
The following chart displays the points our team had given to Flock.
You should use Flock if:
- You are using Slack and disappearing message history makes you mad;
- You and your team are patient and tolerant people who don’t mind the message history being gone for 8 hours;
- You think pricing plans in Slack are ripping you off;
- You speak Russian, Spanish or Portuguese and English interface is an issue.
What’s interesting about this app is that you can send a message to any person in Fleep. All you have to know is the person’s email. Therefore, this app is supposed to feel in the gap between email and a team messenger. Instead of creating a closed team ecosystem (or a walled garden if you like), you can communicate openly with everyone who is and isn’t using Fleep.
With that said it’s hard to consider Fleep a “team” messenger. In fact, Fleep doesn’t have a concept of “teams”. A team in Fleep is equivalent to a private channel in Slack.
Fleep vs Slack. How is it different?
We have personally discussed the difference between Fleep and Slack with the Fleep staff. This is how they explained their positioning:
- Fleep is an open network so you can chat with anyone else who is on Fleep. If you need to be a member of several projects or teams, you only need one account, whereas in Slack belonging to several teams would mean several accounts.
- Fleep is free to use if you don’t require admin controls over your company’s accounts & conversations. In the “Fleep for Business” package which is €5 per user, you receive full control over your accounts, teams and conversations.
- Fleep also features an unlimited message history as well as unlimited integrations in its free package.
Our experience using Fleep
A user centered concept that Fleep supports with its app makes it more complicated to use for teams. I thought of it as a Skype, but with an option to send and receive emails. Which is innovative and not bad at all, but Skype isn’t that great for team communication, is it?
One of the things I like in Slack is having this “My name” personal channel where I can keep track of my monologue with myself. Before I came across this feature, every time I needed to send something from my phone to my laptop, I’d send it to my friend on Viber with a note “Sorry, that’s for me”. My personal channel made things easy. Fleep has that same option, only you can create unlimited monologues with yourself. As a result you can easily loose track of them.
Here are the points Fleep has received from our team.
You should use Fleep if:
- You communicate outside of your team more than inside;
- You hate emails and like free stuff;
- You don’t speak to yourself too often (Monologues with yourself feature);
- 10K messages limit in Slack makes it hard for you to breathe.
5. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams was the last business messaging tool that we’ve tried. It doesn’t come as a separate product like all the previous Slack competitors. You’ll have to start a Microsoft Office 365 free trial if you don’t have an account yet. Even though its main target audience is enterprise sector, the app was obviously inspired by Slack considering the way it looks and feels. We decided to give it a try.
Microsoft Teams vs Slack. How is it different?
Powerful features of Microsoft Teams include full integration across Office 365 apps making it a particular useful app for those already using various Office 365 products. Unlike Slack, MT doesn’t target small and medium business sector. You can buy Microsoft Office 365 package that includes MT for $5 per user per month. Besides giving you the access to MT, the $5 fee will also open up another 5 Microsoft apps for you. If you want the full Office 365 package (that includes MT as well), you’d have to pay $12,5 per user per month.
Our experience using Microsoft Teams
To begin with, we have spent an entire day at work setting up Microsoft Teams. The most tolerant and patient guy in our team – our highly skilled backend developer with over 15 years of experience, fell short of patience when installing Microsoft Teams.
I’ve submitted the form twice as the site wouldn’t work. Then I waited for 10 minutes to receive an email and get into the system. Next 30 minutes I’ve been waiting for all the Microsoft Office 365 apps to launch. Microsoft Teams app was the last to load. Then I had to dig into settings trying to figure out how to invite users and break them into groups.
What I find particularly piquant about the app is that every user of the team has to set up a unique email firstname.lastname@example.org and every time you login you must use this email. In case you forget the password (which happened to me twice) you enter the world of pain for another half an hour.
Make sure you have a skilled admin as It’s unlikely you’ll be able to install Microsoft Teams by yourself. If you are a fan of drag and drop, you’ll be surprised to find MT doesn’t support this feature.
I believe Microsoft Teams is a great product, the problem is – the user experience leaves you with low chances to fully enjoy it.
According to the survey our team had completed, the lack of technical issues seems the strongest point in Microsoft Teams.
I feel like I have to say something nice to wind up the MT review. Here it is – I really like their video:
Microsoft Teams summary
You should use Microsoft Teams if:
- Your enterprise have already signed a contract with Microsoft and you don’t have a choice, but to use it;
- You are not afraid of the obstacles on your way;
- You use other Microsoft Office 365 products daily;
- You and your team are the people with endless supply of patience.
The Results of our voting
My teammates and I have been using 4 different team communication tools during 4 weeks.
In the end, we’ve completed the survey that consisted of 20 questions.
We’ve summarized the results in these charts. The possible maximum # of points that one app could get was 250. As you can see HipChat, Flock and Fleep are are pretty much at the same level when it comes to our team feedback while Microsoft Teams is slightly falling behind.
Our goal with Chanty is to create a team communication tool that would score higher than our competitors. We are aiming for an easy-to-use, easy-to-start solution that meets your business needs at work. It’s going to become the tool that you can rely on and would be proud to recommend to your friends.
Also published on Medium.