Tools we use to build Deekit remotely. Part 1 — Collaboration
Great tools are important for every employee. Finding the right tools for remote teams is a entirely different story. Here’s the list of tools we use at Deekit, how and why we use them as well as tools that we no longer use. In this post, I’ll focus on collaboration.
Quick overview for those in hurry, tools that we use are:
- Google Apps
Tools that we no longer use:
- Google Hangouts and Appear.in
Let’s dive deeper.
We talk and collaborate using:
Slack. We prioritise our communication and I think Slack is reflecting that really well. We have different channels with different priorities and content.
- Automated chats for monitoring different aspects via integrations and WebAPI. There is no talking in those chats other than the automated posts. We have channel for systems monitoring, release and change management, social monitoring, support monitoring.
- Chats to discuss different topics. We have tech channel, database channel, release channel, marketing channel and customer feedback channel for example.
- General channel for anything else work related.
- Random stuff channel. This is the place for everything not work related, interesting links, fun stuff and more.
Google Apps. Drive is the place we drop all kinds of files we want simply stored in shared way. For example our Adobe Illustrator files containing designs fall under this category. We also have shared calendars etc.
Skype. We use Skype for calling. There really isn’t a day where we all would be in the same room. So naturally our daily standups etc happen over Skype. When possible, we use video. But usually not everyone has good connection, so mostly our calls happen in audio.
We also use Skype for HD video team meetings. For example we would do our daily standups, planning meeting and groomings via Skype video call whenever possible. We also use Skype to communicate with people outside of our team.
Deekit. We use Deekit together with Skype or if we are together in same room, just Deekit on it’s own. As natural evolution, our whiteboard in the office remains mostly empty and we have stopped using several other tools.
Deekit now is the place where we brainstorm, whiteboard, work on documentation and share info. Our ideas become alive either starting from an empty canvas, using built-in templates for more structured meetings, or opening up existing boards and keeping them up-to-date. All “documents” become alive in Deekit and we actively mix between sketching and writing.
It’s also the place to keep our product roadmap and marketing plan alive. Whilst backlog in detailed tasks lives in Trello, our team finds it so much easier to think things through and plan while visually working through everything in Deekit.
Often when we work remotely, video calls and screen sharing doesn’t work because of connection quality. Deekit has replaced screen sharing for us mostly as well and made experience even better because it’s no longer one way sharing.
Email. Whilst we all have email addresses, internally we really don’t use email to communicate. Email is more used to communicate with people outside of Deekit team.
Tools we no longer use:
Trello. We used to manage our backlog and sprints in Trello for a while. We used to have separate boards in Trello for backlog, planning, release board, incoming tasks and feedback board, and, we also had a beer backlog. Today, we are using Deekit for all these purposes. There are few reasons why we moved away from Trello.
- We wanted flexibility in our setup, more free-form way to build our product backlog and manage tasks. More like managing simple post-it notes on a physical whiteboard.
- We wanted ability to bring together everything — designs, tasks, architecture sketches. And keep all of this in a simple and editable way.
Teamspeak. A while ago we tested Teamspeak as we were looking for a tool to enable those working from outside of the office to listen in and talk any time. At Skype, we tried video bridges for this purpose. But at some point we would mute the video bridges and honestly, video does require quite good connectivity. Which is not always the case. So at Deekit we decided audio would be better option. After couple months of testing, we agreed that while Teamspeak is a great tool, we never really started to use it enough. In fact at some point we really had not been using it. And instead, Skype video calls were up and running still.
Confluence. We used Confluence to keep long and text heavy documentation before we were able to support those in Deekit. We have never been fans of such tools because they are really focused on text, no real collaborative experience and really heavy to use. Now we have moved all such topics into Deekit with nice way to link them directly onto canvas drawings and visualisations.
Google Hangouts and Appear.in and other WebRTC based solutions. We have tried many options for calling next to Skype. Whilst browser-based options work great, you will notice lovely peak in your CPU usage and the fan does get too noisy. Truly bad when you don’t have a headset. Although Hangouts does allow you take control over that by adjusting your bandwidth settings, it is an extra step.
Hipchat. We switched from HipChat to Slack a while ago, before their new UI was launched because of usability. And whilst it might be much better now, we don’t really see us switching back. Slack is just awesome.
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Originally published at www.deekit.com/blog