5 Hidden Challenges of Slack Implementation to Know About

Hidden Challenges of Slack Implementation

If you have been exploring new ways for your teams to collaborate, chances are you have heard of Slack. Communication becomes centralized, with Slack replacing email and instant messaging. You can share files, start video calls, and set reminders for yourself or others.

Slack had been growing, but demand increased even more in early 2020. Millions of people began working remotely as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Collaboration tools, which you may have previously considered “nice to have,” became essential.

As you move forward with Slack implementation, you will want to consider some of the challenges it may present. Meeting compliance, regulatory, or security requirements should be on your radar. You will want to meet these challenges and not find yourself fighting a platform designed to make communication easier.

1. Platform Security

Slack boasts over 10 million active daily users, and that it is used by 65 of the Fortune 100 companies. With so much information exchanged between users, security becomes a concern. This is particularly true if your company handles sensitive data.

Slack has enterprise-grade data protection. This includes identity and device management, data encryption (both at rest and in transit), and audit logs. You can configure Slack for HIPAA and FINRA 17-a4 compliance.

Slack has some of the features in place to keep your data secure and meet compliance requirements. But, you should still consider your specific industry and company. Having your own measures in place will ensure that you meet your own internal security requirements.

2020 saw an exponential increase in remote work. More employees at home means more access locations for your data. Instead of one funnel for information (the office), you may now need to watch hundreds.

You should review the access rights of your employees within Slack and have a clear strategy for this. You can enforce two-factor authentication, for example. You can also decide how data is used and accessed on mobile devices.

If you have freelance or contract workers, you will need to further review their access. Slack can be a great way to bring your freelancers/contract workers together to network and discuss projects. But, you need to watch channels within Slack.

Provide internal employee training, and make such training mandatory. By having clear written policies about Slack’s use, you can lay the foundation to educate everyone. This will ensure compliance going forward.

2. Monitoring for Behavior Problems

Slack has swiftly changed how employees communicate, replacing water-cooler discussions or email correspondence. As a result, Slack presents a new challenge for Human Resources. Harassment, inappropriate language, or other unprofessional behavior would need to be addressed.

Slack is intended to make workplace communication fun and more like a social network. Because of the rapid exchange of communication, employees are more likely to send messages without thinking through the impact. Casual use of emojis and more playful back-and-forth can make some employees uncomfortable or quickly cross a line.

HR needs to consider safeguards in Slack in the same way that they would in a physical workspace. Slack stores messages, but users can edit or delete content. The challenge is having a clear record of behavior that may result in disciplinary action.

You may want to consider an enterprise-grade archiving solution. This will capture data in real-time and can solve this problem. A complaint can easily escalate into litigation.

AI-powered solutions can interpret the sentiment or emotions of the employee. This detection can notify HR only of potentially negative interactions. This also reduces the number of “false alarms.”

Messages become easy to view at any time, in their original state. By automating this process, HR can have peace of mind knowing that the information is easily accessible.

3. Data Loss Prevention

Your employees are still human. Education about sensitive information will only go so far. An employee might make mistakes or share information without thinking.

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) ensures confidential or sensitive information isn’t shared outside of Slack. This includes information like credit card numbers, social security numbers, and health care information. Slack does not offer native DLP as a feature, so companies must turn to outside providers.

Your policy to prevent data loss should include the following:

  • Identifying the sensitive data
  • Putting controls in place to protect the data
  • Enforcing DLP policies for files and messages
  • Capture with complete audit trail all user and administrator activity
  • Detect activities that pose a risk of data leakage

DLP solutions watch the data in Slack and scan for keywords. This could be a hugely time consuming task if not automated.

Instead, your company can have a tool in place that provides alerts. You would only review flagged conversations.

4. Regulatory Requirements

Slack offers easy communication among teams. But, heavily regulated industries still need to maintain compliance. Organizations in these types of industries realize that their online content can expose them to compliance violations.

For example, HIPAA has requirements around privacy and security protections for health information. Breaching this requirement could occur within Slack. The financial services industry must maintain records of all business-related communications to be compliant with FINRA, the SEC, and the FCA.

Failure to be in compliance in these industries can result in notifications from the regulatory agencies and costly fines. Audits can expose the weaknesses if companies are not prepared. Even less-regulated industries should still consider their own policies related to external and internal record-keeping requirements.

Slack will keep messages for the lifetime of your workspace. But, your organization can adjust the retention settings to delete messages after a set amount of time. Different settings may mean that edits, deletions, and revisions are not tracked.

Your organization needs to have a clear archiving policy about communication. Having this in place from the onset of using Slack will ensure that you are capturing the communication. Tools for archiving should make the information easy to retrieve so that you can receive any communication at any time.

5. Preparedness for eDiscovery and Litigation

With the prevalence of ESI, most legal cases involve eDiscovery. Slack records have the potential to be requested as evidence during the eDiscovery process.

Using ESI as evidence in litigation requires a high level of security. This includes collecting digital documents or other files, sequestering that data in a protected environment, or getting it ready for trial. Attorneys need to review not only the data but the process used to collect it.

Your company should ease preparedness for potential eDiscovery. You must take steps to ensure that the data collection is practical and will stand up as admissible evidence.

Slack communications fall into the category of “unstructured data.” This means that there is no specific organization to the information.

Unlike platforms designed to organize client files or store account details, information flows around freely on Slack. The volume of unstructured data in tools grows exponentially over time.

Data needs to be collected in a way that ensures it is easy to find and admissible. This includes:

  • Capturing the data in real-time
  • Timestamping the data
  • Linking all associated metadata

Depending on your retention and archiving policy, it is possible that data could be lost. You need to preserve this during the litigation or eDiscovery process. Your organization needs to consider how to place a “hold” on data and export it to preserve it.

Expert teams that follow eDiscovery requests can be costly. Sifting through unstructured data can be time-consuming. Working with an enterprise-grade tool ensures that you’re ready for any request.

Are You Ready for Slack Implementation?

Whether you are managing a newly remote team or simply looking for new communication tools for your team, Slack may be a contender. But as you prepare for Slack usage, be ready to govern its usage.

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