Internal Communications without its tools is like a carpenter without a hammer. You may know how to hit the nails, but trying to do it with your hands will take forever. Oh, and it will hurt. Luckily, IC has more tools available to them than ever before – you would be surprised at the amount of things that aren’t considered as IC tools. We’ve listed the six most essential ones that you need to master, especially when you work in a scalable company.
The basics: G Suite
Face it, no one likes Microsoft Office. Gone are the days that this was the only secure solution – which was its perceived USP for a long time. Google’s G Suite gives a lot of freedom and usability, and while it sounds strange, it is something that Internal Communications needs to master. Why? Because communication becomes much more relevant when we master the tools of its context. If we’re talking about a document with the company’s new brand values, linking directly to its location on the Drive is important. Likewise, if your company is hyper-transparent in communicating its metrics – revenue, amount of visitors, conversion rate, whatever is relevant for you – then you'd better know how to make some pretty graphs with Sheets. These are also opportunities to reinforce the brand, so a good Docs template can’t be left out.
Dynamic communication: Slack or Chat
Ah yes, GIFs. While it may seem like that’s all these messaging platforms are used for, they have tremendous value to the business. Much more open than the direct-messaging only tools of the past (Skype for Business, hi there!), Slack allows you to set up channels and push conversation at a blistering pace. It supports a wide amount of additions, one them being Karmabot. This app allows you to give karma points to colleagues for their activities, prompting a cool, customizable GIF to pop-up. If you don’t want to invest, Google’s own Chat is an excellent free alternative. Disco serves as the Chat alternative to Karmabot. A nice way to boost employee appreciation within their communication environment.
Static communication: Intranet solution or a social intranet solution
Company-wide emails or reply-to-alls may no longer be the best way to mass communicate information, it doesn’t mean that static information has no place. A secure, internal place for company information such as market developments, competitor information, HR forms, onboarding information and IT requests is an asset that any scaling company needs – particularly as the complexity of the company grows with its size. Of course, it isn’t limited to just that, whatever is relevant for your company’s employees can be housed there. See it as your own private website. If you want to spice things up a little and get employees to talk to each other around the context of work, while also getting to know each other better, consider an intranet solution that integrates Enterprise Social Network (ESN) features. Cutting-edge vendors will offer this as a true bang-for-the-buck solution, far more than a separate intranet or ESN.
Project management: Asana
When it comes to project management tools, few come close to Asana. Why? Because it’s so friggin’ easy to use! Task-and-project related conversation also happens naturally, made possible through a really friendly User Interface (UI). It also integrates with a huge variety of tools, mainly thanks to Zapier. This is the place employees will use to give immediate feedback on tasks and projects, which means it’s the place to be if you want to see the level of soft skills in your company. Because it’s not defined as a communications tool as much as the previous three, it easily gets overlooked. Don’t let that happen to you, because if you’re in a tech company, you’re definitely using some sort of project management tool. Just let it be this one.
Overview: People directory
People directories are unmissable in any large organization, but they’re even more important in scaling companies. It’s not just the amount of people that join or leave, it’s also the ever-changing nature of their jobs that necessitates this. A tech company now is not the same company a year or two later. Roles change along with the company. A clear overview helps you and others find the right people for the right job – not just based on job title, but also on skillset, languages mastered and whatever else your company deems important. Make sure you have something that’s based on the data in your G Suite environment – this way your directory will auto-populate and only needs to be updated in one location.
Whether you have an in-house designer or not, chances are you’ll need to make visual material every now-and-then. Canva is an excellent, cheap tool that has most of the basic design features you would use Photoshop or InDesign for, at a lower price. Basic usage is free, gaining access to more than 400.000 stock photos is only $13 a month. Even the most frugal of companies can justify that. Added bonus: there are a lot of premade layouts for your convenience, and because it’s a SaaS tool you won’t need to download or install anything.
Mac users can use Pages - a preinstalled tool - for print-specific design. Unfortunately, there’s still no real substitute for Adobe’s InDesign if you’re on Windows. If you want to go beyond what your office printer can spawn, you won’t be able to escape it.
The whole is more than the sum of its parts
Tools maketh the man, some would say. Doing Internal Communications in tech companies means you’re in an environment that’s open to automating mundane tasks away. While the tools listed above are great ways to help you in your day-to-day tasks, you should try to seek out ways to automate the more mundane things you do. As a start, I recommend browsing Zapier’s site to see which of your apps can be made to connect with each other. Chances are that pulling page-view analytics from your intranet can be automated into a Google Sheet without a sweat. The number one tool rule: make sure it will save you time, effort, money, or all of the above.