Slack Alternatives – An Analysis for Remote and Distributed Teams

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Slack desktop app

Choosing the right team collaboration and communication tool for your remote team is never going to be easy. Should you just blindly go for Slack: the ever-popular and juggernaut of team collab tools? Or choose one of the up and coming Slack alternatives like Samepage? In this post, I’ll be exploring both Slack and Samepage to see which one will work best for your distributed or remote team.

I’ve had the chance to use both with my remote team- Slack for around one and a half years and Samepage for roughly the same time.

Both are incredibly powerful tools and have transformed the way our teams work. They’re robust, they allow for detailed and trackable communication, and most importantly, they are adaptable to the often changing requirements for remote teamwork.

But while I can harp on about Slack and Samepage, one of the slack alternatives, there is only one winner. Which one is better and will give you the best ROI for your organization?

I’ll be comparing the following features;

  • Instant Messaging
  • Audio and Video Conferencing
  • File Sharing
  • Mobile and Web application
  • Integrations
  • Ease of setup for existing remote teams
  • Quality of Support
  • Task Scheduling

Samepage Brief- Slack Alternatives To Explore

Slack originated as a team messaging tool for Tiny Speck’s developers who were working on Glitch, an online game. It gradually went on to become a community workspace comprising persistent chat rooms(channels), direct messaging, and groups.

From 8000 subscribers in 2013,  today, over 12 million users across 150 countries are active on Slack, making it a behemoth in this space. Slack is used by engineering, marketing, sales, human resource, and financial teams, to name a few. Some notable names include Fox, Vodafone, and IBM.

Samepage is a Slack alternative. Previously a division of Kerio technologies, it is a collaborative workspace that comprises task management, file sharing, and messaging options. It began as a premise-based solution t retooled in 2013 to a cloud-based SaaS solution.

In 2017, the Entrepreneur’s Organization endorsed Samepage as its official collaboration tool. Like Slack, it lets you upload files, tag members for collective decision-making, and keeps tasks trackable.  Enterprises that use Samepage include construction, marketing and creatives, media and entertainment, education, and consulting.

As of 2020, there are over 2 million users in 180+ countries. Some recognizable clients include NMC, Barvin Group, and MohrBooks.

1. Instant Messaging

Slack conversational channel
SlackSamepage
Ease of use        ✅Ease of use    ✅
 Responsiveness ✅Responsiveness ✅
Notifications         ✅Notifications         ✅
Message Searchability✅Message Searchability ╳

Analysis

The team and I were on Slack’s free version before we got onto Samepage. While I liked about Slack was its facility to separate work and non-work-related conversations, I found Samepage’s messaging options more organized, with the option to create sub-teams within teams.

Moreover, Slack’s searchable history was somewhat limited in the free version. Messages older than a month disappeared, which ironically, would have contained the information we were after.

The pricing options didn’t justify making Slack a full-time addition to our marketing stack. We were after something we could add more members to across both distributed and remote teams, which is how we ended up going with Samepage, one of the Slack alternatives.

Its messaging options are private and group-based, which lets you create teams and sub-teams within it, much like an organizational tree. Access to channels is controlled by admins who have to add new members to discussions. In Slack, once you join the workspace, you’re free to join or leave any channel.

Verdict: Samepage

The platform you exchange messages on should ensure you’re in the right conversations in time. If speed across any device, be it the desktop version or mobile application, is on your mind, we recommend going with Samepage.

It is one of the Slack alternatives with messaging capabilities that come at a slightly more cost-effective plan. Plus, hidden messages are bolded to prevent you from missing any messages sent privately or in channels.

2. Audio and Video Conferencing

Software like Slack
SlackSamepage
Video clarity    ✅Video clarity ╳
Load time        ✅Load time        ✅
Audibility          ✅Audibility╳
Group calling facility✅Group calling facility✅

Analysis

In both Slack and Samepage, audio and video options unfold once you open a direct message to a coworker. Slack has the upper hand on video conferencing because a) it has been around a lot longer and b) More time and skills to upscale these features. We found it easy to jump on a quick call with each other and didn’t give it a lot of thought.

Full disclosure; I tested out the video and voice calling features on Samepage by placing a call to one of my coworkers. The call connected, but I could not see any video. Also, voices were heard only at one end. I like to think this was a glitch that the development team is still working on or an early release that isn’t completely up and running, unlike Slack.

Verdict: Slack

I tried out the calling options on both applications. My vote goes to Slack because of the connectivity, clarity, and reliability. There’s no echo or drops in the call as far as we could tell, and it definitely works. Better bring your A-game next time, slack alternatives!

3. File Sharing

SlackSamepage
Security   ✅Security   ✅
Accessibility ✅Accessibility ✅
Visibility    ✅Visibility    ✅
Structure and formatting ✅Structure and formatting ╳
Downloadable✅Downloadable✅

Analysis

Both Slack and Slack alternatives let you upload files and respond to requests for a content deck. The difference being that Slack’s files can be easily searched and retrieved at a later date, provided you’re on a plan. This facility is missing even in Samepage’s paid version. You’d have to do this exercise manually by scrolling.

Another observation on the Samepage platform is that if you click to expand an uploaded Doc or Spreadsheet file, it doesn’t let you scroll on or take further action, such as working on edits. You’d have to download it onto your system and work on it there. Slack lets you work in real-time on files that are shared such that the changes suggested are visible to everyone on the channel.

Verdict: Slack

Sorry new kid on the block, but our vote goes again to Slack! The file-sharing capabilities go beyond retrieving and uploading files on channels. You can collaborate with other coworkers nearly instantly, and store updated documents so that you don’t misplace task lists or confuse it for an older version of the same thing.

4. Mobile and Web application

SlackSamepage
Responsiveness ✅Responsiveness ✅
Layout                ✅Layout                ✅
Multi-device Adaptability         ✅Multi-device Adaptability         ✅
Notification          ✅Notification          ✅

Analysis

Both Slack and Samepage, one of the slack alternatives, are built for multi-device usage. You can communicate and stay in touch with colleagues over mobile tech or on your desktop and snooze notifications when you’re away from your desk or off the clock.

Samepage’s User Interface(UI) scores a little better than Slack here. It’s also lighter and uses less phone memory than Slack’s mobile application. Slack’s logo may have undergone a few creative changes over the past five years, but its famously purple theme still reigns. With Samepage, you can play around with themes. In fact, I just changed mine yesterday to a color that I find is more me!

That being said, Samepage is a little unresponsive at times, and reviews left by mobile users complain of not being able to share or view screens on group calls. What we as a team liked best about the Slack for Windows version is that the notifications are neatly organized and don’t clog up your screen. You can get to all your unread messages in good time.

Verdict: Slack

Color palette themes aside, Slack is the choice if you want uniform responsiveness when you often switch between devices. Samepage works better on the web than it does on the play store version, so you’re better off with Slack in the end. Be prepared to see a lot more purple!

5.Integrations

SlackSamepage
Plugins    ✅Plugins    ✅
Number of applications   ✅Number of applications   ✅
Data transfer and storage✅Data transfer and storage✅

Analysis

Slack integrates with a number of work-from-home, file-sharing, and database applications. Additionally, it also came out with CloverPop, which streamlines decisions and involves team members for a consensus. The catalog is extensive and sorts applications by usage into productivity, finance, marketing, team and culture, communication, wellness, and support. A few remote work applications include InVision, Loom (for HR and culture), and workstreams.

Samepage, likewise, comes with a lot of inbuilt integrations for file storage, mail, videos, support, and calendars. I may be biased here, but the variety and number of integrations do fall behind Slack.

Verdict: Slack

Slack is more geared to the needs of a remote team and even has apps specifically for work from home that you can add to your deck. Many of the integrable offerings present on Slack are absent on Samepage, which is fine if your needs are basic but not so if you’re intending to grow at scale and see yourself managing more members on remote teams.

The only downside here is being spoiled for choice. Be sure to prioritize integrations so you know which ones you can live without, and which ones you need.

6. Ease of setup for existing remote teams

SlackSamepage
Simplicity ✅Simplicity ✅
Language preferences ✅Language preferences ✅
Privacy, theme and notification settings ✅Privacy, theme and notification settings ✅
Authentication  ✅Authentication  ✅
FAQ    ✅FAQ    ✅

Analysis

In 2015, Slack had a security breach when a database that contained user profiles was hacked. Since then, it has come out with a two-factor authentication system to prevent future such breaches. Samepage hasn’t reported any such suspicious activity, but both tools are taking measures to block unauthorized users. Safe to say that both tools are easy to get onto. On Slack’s plus package, employers can export and download public channel messages, links, and files.

You can create a company workspace and invite members with verified business addresses. Once in, administrators can further give access privileges as and when members join, or revoke them for members who leave the organization. The help section in both tools contain useful and detailed guides, and Samepage has a service health checker where you can see if there’s any maintenance work going on.

Verdict: Samepage

Truth be told, Samepage and Slack are neck-to-neck on this, but the tiebreaker is that it’s easy to find what you’re looking for on Samepage, from configuring your settings to maintaining billing.

It could be because Samepage features are just making its debut, but the website is definitely a bit more navigable than Slack, which lets you get help when you need it!

7. Quality of Support

SlackSame page
Contact options ✅Contact options ✅
Timeliness    ✅Timeliness    ✅
Help Center       ✅Help Center       ✅

Analysis

Slack has an intuitive help center prompt that figures out your question and directs you to the answer. If you’re still stuck, there are options for help with finding your company workspace, resetting login credentials, and managing user profiles. If none of these work, you can use a type form and leave your contact details.

Samepage has a single sign-on option that is helpful if you’re the forgetful type. In the event you find yourself locked out or unable to get on the application with this facility, you can email your sales account manager with your organization name and signing key. The help center features lots of tutorials, articles, and one-to-one support, which you can use as a last resort to raise tickets, keep track of responses, and maintain a trail of the help received!

Verdict: Slack

We vote for Slack here because the most common problems faced by users are documented with precise help. 90% of the time, you won’t need to drop a message because the answers are already there. Their support team is also more responsive and active on social media. Samepage is a bit more orthodox and controls how much help you can get on your own, which then controls how much time it takes to be helped.

8. Task Scheduling

SlackSamepage
Notifications✅Notifications✅
Scheduling ✅Scheduling ✅
Synchrony ✅Synchrony ✅

Analysis

Samepage has task scheduling down as a unique feature, while the same is scattered across different features in Slack, such as meeting management and progress archives. Creating tasks on Samepage is easy. It’s considered an event with a timestamp and resource assignment, where you can tag involved members from different channels. We observed there was also the provision to mark how much of a task was done by individual members, which made it easy to compare notes.

Tasks can get synced to your schedule on both the platforms, but the visibility is considerably better on Samepage. You can review your To-do on Slack and receive reminders on pending items.  This notification appears as a mailer on Samepage, so you’d have to frequently pop into your inbox. For reasons unknown, task notifications appear delayed or frequently hang on Samepage’s browser version.

Verdict: Samepage

Having used Samepage for close to a year now, I find it easier to schedule tasks and keep track of work done in progress and yet to be started.

It’s a close competition, to be honest, but why Samepage has the lead here is because task management is a standalone feature and does what it says: manage tasks. On other Slack alternatives, you’d have to use many features for one functionality so it can occupy more of your time if you let it!

Final Verdict *drumrolls*…

Slack

All things considered, my final vote goes to Slack, and here’s why:

The way work gets done and how members interact with each other is different when everyone is in one office and when they work remotely. While you have a variety of options to hash things out with a coworker, from holding a stand up, going over to their desk, or sending a quick mail or message, the only option you can rely on when you go remote is a robust and responsive messaging platform.

There is a resurgence in remote work, prompting the decision to invest in a collaborative tool. Whichever application you go for should enable you and your teams to converse fluidly, upload files, put up status updates, and jump on to brainstorming sessions without hitting any snags. Above all, it should be easy for everyone to settle into. The sooner they can hit the ground running, the easier it is to set clear expectations, get work updates from everyone, and fast track decisions for high priorities.

In this regard, none of the Slack alternatives can beat this mammoth when it comes to internal integrations. There are tools for productivity, well-being, time and meeting management, decision-making, and conferencing within Slack, making it more of an all-rounder than other online collaborative tools.

Conclusion

The tools and integrations that come with it should enable you to remain productive, engaged, and communicative. You should not be left out of decisions involving your work and those of others relevant to the task you’re on.

Having been a remote manager for a few years now, some challenges I faced personally have stuck out in my mind, which reflected in my analysis of the two applications.

My opinion? Explore Slack alternatives for free, and examine what you get out of them if you were to sign up for a plan. Remember, more doesn’t always mean better. It’s about which tool can be shaped around your needs and not the other way around!



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