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Ah yes: chat apps. Those cool tools with all kinds of bells and whistles that promise to bring together distributed teams and enable real-time collaboration. But as many enterprises are experiencing, the reality isn’t living up to the hype. Yes, people are frenetically sending messages back and forth. But they aren’t necessarily advancing the work journey and getting things done on time, the first time. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Chat Apps Dominate All Other Channels

The ease and simplicity of chat apps can convince teams to use them for virtually all project communications. The problem, of course, is that not everything can or should be made to fit within the confines of a chat box. Some types of communication are best handled through virtual workspaces, while others lend themselves to a phone call, video chat, or email.

  • Chat Apps Never Go Away

Chat apps are designed to constantly run in foreground or background of any device: desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphones, and even wearables. What’s wrong with this? Well, it means that chat apps can quickly go from being a friend, to becoming a stalker. They never (ever) go away. And workers who aren’t always or immediately available can be wrongly perceived as — or falsely accused of — not doing their job. Instead of liberating and empowering, chat apps can become a kind of robotic micromanager.  

  • Chat Apps Trigger Distractibility

It’s been known for decades that human being process information in two ways, and in two different regions that control the brain. Intentional focus triggers activity in the prefrontal cortex, and brainwaves travel in a top-down direction. Suddenly becoming alert to external stimuli (e.g. hearing a siren or alarm) triggers activity in the parietal cortex, and brainwaves travel in a bottom-up direction.

Yes, we all know where this is going: team members need to focus on their important tasks, which means they’re emanating top-down brainwaves. Yet, chat apps buzz them with endless pings and updates, which means they’re flooded with bottom-up brainwaves. Given this battle, is it any wonder why so many people spend an excessive amount of time using chat apps, yet feel exhausted within a few hours and ultimately accomplish far less than they need to?  

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  • Chat Apps Don’t Put Communication in Context

We’ve saved the most egregious gap for last: chat apps don’t put communication in context — which shouldn’t be surprising, because they were never designed to do this. Like other social media tools, chat apps were built to enable and foster organic, emergent real-time activity streams. They weren’t built to make it fast and easy for team members to find and make sense of specific data in an ocean of general information.

Just Add Clarizen Bot

Despite these problems, the advice isn’t for enterprises to kick chat apps off the project management landscape. Rather, the answer is to turn chat apps into a legitimate enterprise-grade work management tool — which is exactly what Clarizen’s Bot for Slack does. For example, from within Slack and through a single one-line command team members can:

    • Get real-time data updates on the fly to prioritize and organize work.
    • Discover and share project information.
    • Request project status, cost, and revenue reports.
    • Take actions and mark tasks complete.
    • Log timesheets to keep projects on track.

The Bottom Line

Chat apps have their place in the overall project communication toolkit. But it takes a unique solution like Clarizen’s Bot for Slack to ensure that team members use them to advance the work journey vs. wonder why they’re spending so much time and effort to get so little done.