It is not hyperbole to say that communications is the lifeblood of an organization, even a small organization. And while there are many types of communications tools that you use in an organization, I find that there are three common types:

  • Ticket Tools aka Github Issues or Jira or Trello
  • Documentation Tools such as Google Docs or Microsoft Word
  • Realtime Tools such as Slack or Gitter or Discord

The obvious question becomes when to use what tool.

Ticketing Tools

A ticketing tool like Github Issues, Jira or Trello is really a communications message that amounts to “Do this Task”. Most good ticketing tools allow you to communicate in a bunch of ways including:

  • Do this task (the ticket itself)
  • Clarify it by attaching information to the ticket
  • Engage in back and forth with people via discussion on the ticket

Think of your tickets as an on going communications forum that is task oriented and results in a deliverable.

Documentation Tools

Back in the old days the only real communications tool was Microsoft Word and a Word document was the be all, end all. Increasingly it now seems like a full writing environment like Word or Google Docs is what you use when you have to work something out conceptually.

Realtime Tools

Both Slack and Discord are realtime discussion tools. And what these tools do is give a way for 2 or more people to work out a problem and come to a consensus. Slack discussions can transpire either synchronously or asynchronously and are a rich medium including attachments, polls, gifs, etc.

And There’s a Flow

I wrote this originally because someone was asking me “what tool do I use” and I actually had problems parsing that statement. To me this is a flow as much as anything. I find that things might start in Slack, proceed into Google Docs and then into 1 or more Github Issues. Alternatively you often see a Google Doc split into a half dozen Github Issues.

At least from an engineering perspective, the output of all of these communications tools is one or more tickets that represent a unit of work to be done.