Modern day communications have reached new heights. Online communication tools are the momentum in every business globally these days. Team chat is something that more and more companies are trying to incorporate within their workplace. Some of the best collaboration software solutions today are dominating the digital communication realm and are complementing the exchange of next-generation ideas. Slack is one such powerful tool. Is Slack the only one ruling the market? Are there any alternatives to Slack? Can the best Slack alternatives act as the super-connectors? Can free alternatives to Slack help the start-ups to collaborate effectively? Let us discuss this in detail in the following sections of this article.
The Slack Company was started back in 2013 by Stewart Butterfield, who was in great need of a communication and collaboration tool inside of his company. What began as an internal-use-only idea developed and expanded into one of the hottest startups of 2015 and one of the most used communication tools in 2018. Some major security breaches in 2015 made Butterfield reconsider the functionality and security of this product making it one of the most important collaboration tools existing in 2019. Yet, if you are at the parting of the ways and rushing about selecting something except for Slack, then it is essential first to clarify what Slack is and why it is so much beloved by its users.
The phenomenon of Slack was in its novelty at the time of emergence and its continuous improvement and enhancement as time goes. What started as a basic communication space has transformed into a fully functional collaboration tool not only for small teams but for large businesses and a wide number of non-Slack users as well.
Today, Slack has taken the top position in the collaboration software market. Slack allows not only to communicate inside of the desktop/phone app or webpage version but also share any kinds of files, use external tools (more than 1,500 available for integration), install extensions and even create your own enhancement tools for easier cooperation inside your company or team.
Most of all, people are in love with Slack because it has a number of essential features required for the effective running of the daily business processes. Here are the most important of them:
Channels cooperation: Yes, channel usage is not new in 2019. Yet, in Slack one has all channels in the same table of contents and the ease of switching among them. Any user can search for any information located inside of those channels. Channels come in two forms: shared and private; the latter was designed for private discussions while the former can include as many members as needed.
Audio and video calls: What Facebook just recently applied has been available in Slack for ages. Audio and video calls facilitate internal and external cooperation of the company’s members and teams.
External apps integration: Whenever someone posts a document on Slack, others get access to it instantly. An image shared on the channel becomes open for alternation for all channel members. The possibility to exchange a wide range of files and integrate all possible functionalities into the collaboration process is what Slack offers to its users.
All-in-one space: Integration of Slack with a number of external apps (such as Google Drive, or DropBox) and services allows not clicking between the tabs and hence save a lot of working time. There is no need to update the links or open external pages since all possible services one may need are already available within the Slack space.
The benefits Slack offers definitely pay off! Recent statistics indicate that the number of daily active free Slack users worldwide has risen from 16,000 to 8,000,000 in four years. The number proves the efficiency of the service without a doubt.
But the free users may only be on the test-run to check what the service has to offer while the number of paid users, which is 3,000,000 proves the point – Slack knows what it is doing and the growth from zero to 3 million paid users proves the point.
Even though Slack was brought up in San Francisco, nearly half of its active users come from outside North America, namely top foreign markets like France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, and Australia.
Why Search for a Slack Alternative?
If Slack is such a great service to work with, then why seek for alternatives to slack?
Well, most users still remember about thesecurity breach that happened to the service back in 2015. And such an issue still raisesa lot of concerns among the currently active users. Some also complain about the lack of project management tools integrated into the platform and insist that it is essential for them to be integrated into the service in the future.
Another common problem of Slack is space. The desktop application requires pretty a lot of storage space. Such a problem becomes an issue for small businesses who do not possess large storage disks on all computers used inside of a company.
And one more dig at Slack is itspricing policy. The current state of affairs offers $8 per active user per month provided that you pay monthly; if you would like to save, you can get billing information annually and then pay only $6.67 for the same features in the Standard services package.
While the pricing seems not high enough, for a small business of 30 employees, a company will need to pay $2,401.2 in total for the Standard package and $4,500 for the Plus package, provided that the billing comes once a year. The numbers still do not seem to be too high, but for a small business, this might be a pretty expensive investment to make.
What are the Best Slack Alternatives?
There is a wide range of Slack alternatives available in the market. Some of them might look completely identical to the original tool, except for the design, while others cover the holes of the Slack’s functionality. The list you will see below does not claim the apps and tools listed are the ideal ones for your particular business; however, in terms of functionalities, they can and do create strong competition in the market of communication tools.
Mattermost is one of the closest friends and rivals of Slack but can be the best alternatives to slack. It has similar design and functionality with a couple of definitive features
In comparison to Slack, Mattermost does not limit the messages history. If Slack offers only 10,000 messages in a free plan, Mattermost keeps them all for your team’s working needs, whether you are paying for the service or not. Besides that, the pricing policy of this service is much more generous and affordable even for small businesses since payment is $39 per user per year (which makes it $3.25 in comparison to Slack’s $6.67/$8 charges).
The full-service quote is, however, not available on the website and the management needs you to write more about your requirements to offer you a quote. The important trick here is that only businesses that have 10 users or more can purchase paid plans with Mattermost.
Key features (as opposed to Slack):
- Slack-compatible yet self-hosted: Mattermost is compatible with the existing integrations of Slack. This means that anything you have on Slack can easily be transferred to Mattermost, such as users, teams, public channel history, etc. However, hosting the solution on your own server will not cost you a penny which is not even possible for Slack users.
- All shapes and forms: Mattermost is not just an online solution. It also has iOS/Android mobile apps and desktop apps for Windows, Linux, and Mac.
- Open source: If you need any customization or changes to be made to this communication tool, you are free to go!
- Ease of installation and maintenance: While Slack required a lot of free space on a device, Mattermost keeps everything tight and functional. Users can check a detailed explanation of how much space is needed for running different sizes of business on theirofficial webpage.
- Security: It is still not perfect with Mattermost, yet the levels are much higher than the ones of Slack (for instance, it is secured behind the user’s firewall). Mattermost is a service which complied with the latest consumer data protection and GDPR acts.
#2. Rocket.Chat - Free, Open Source, Enterprise Team Chat
Rocket.Chat, in contrast to Slack, is an open source Slack alternative that can be perfectly customized to your business needs. The look and feel of this team chatting solution is adaptive to any requirements you might have.
Since you are looking for an alternative to Slack, chances are you will need to transfer all your data from Slack to the new platform. Well, Rocket.Chat offers a perfect exporting system that leaves all your Slack groundwork in place. All you need is to export the required files from Slack and upload them to Rocket.Chat in just a few clicks.
The cost of Rocket.Chat can battle the Slack’s offer. There is a free option available for everyone. The free package is advised for no more than 1k users and offers all essential features in terms of functionality but does not include any support. The paid packages of Rocket.Chat begin from $3 per user per month if paid monthly and $30 per user in total in the case of the yearly billing system. The Pro package has negotiable prices and attractive discounts for large corporations. The paid packages include personal assistance for migration, 24/7 support, and some administrative perks.
Key features (in contrast to Slack):
- Assistance: Assistance with Rocket.Chat is amazing. With paid packages, you receive support and help at almost every step of the user journey with this service while for free packages extra help can be requested for an extra $525 a month.
- Customization: Rocket.Chat offers a wide range of customized plugins, themes, and API to deliver the most comfortable communicating tool for your employees.
- Translations: This is a particularly important feature for companies working with international clients daily. Rocket.Chat has a built-in automatic translation in more than 35 languages. Slack in its turn requires a separate plug-in to do such magic.
- Updates and compensations for the lacking: The greatest advantage of the open-source platforms is that whenever you are missing a feature, you can request it on GitHub and get it developed for you personally. Since Rocket.Chat is among the best and most popular chat solutions, there are more than 850 developers contributing to this project. Moreover, all updates with Rocket.Chat are free of charge.
- Security: Rocket.Chat’s security uses E2E encryption to guarantee the safest storage of all your data and the absence of breaches in the security shell of your business communication. Besides that, the service runs its Vulnerability Disclosure Program and encourages anyone to point out the security susceptibility so they can improve the service.
Fleep is more than just a messenger. This is a bridge between emails and chats. The service allows sending messages to any person registered there; all you need to know is their email. Fleep is not about closed systems like channels; it is an open net where everyone can connect to everyone. Such an approach significantly facilitates communication, especially for international and large-scale corporate teams.
The perfect openness in the Fleep world, however, costs money. Yes, this communication software is still cheaper than Slack (€5 [about $5.7] per user per month in contrast to the well-known $6.67), yet it costs more than the previously mentioned Slack alternatives. Fleep can be yet another powerful alternative to Slack.
Key Features (in contrast to Slack):
- All in one place: Slack requires a user to have multiple accounts to be a part of multiple projects. In Fleep it is all in one. One registration, one account, numerous projects, and unlimited connections — this is all about free and open communication in a single ecosystem.
- Unlimited messages: Remember that Slack does limit the messages history? Well, just as Mattermost or Rocket.Chat, Fleep does not make such a mistake. All of your messages will be available to you at all time. However, keep in mind that the storage space for the file-sharing feature is heavily limited by Fleep which might be a great limitation for large teams (in the free package you get only 10 GB which is even less than on Gmail).
- Monolog messages: This is a feature everyone loves on Facebook, and Fleep has integrated it into its system. Here one can write messages to themselves to keep track of the current thoughts. The downside of it, however, is that you can create an unlimited number of mono-threads and eventually get lost in the layers of your self-centered messages.
- File drawer: On Slack, you are likely to install or add integrated file-management systems in order to work efficiently. Yet still, you will need to click between them to find the file you sent 50 messages ago. Fleep has a file drawer which storages all attachments that were sent within a thread by all its members. It helps in getting faster access to the required files.
#4. Ryver: Group Chat + Task Manager + Workflow Automation IN ONE APP
Ryver is about combining communication inside of a team with the management features. The idea of having both communication and management definitely wins over the market. Since management frequently involves sharing of many documents and spreads, there are several built-in integrations, such as Google Drive, or DropBox to share the files from your own storage space directly inside the app.
Ryver’s motto says that it is “The Best Way to Communicate.” Ryver is not free! Ryver’s payment plans for the simplest package begin from $49 per month per 12 users. Yes, it is $4.08 per user per month, yet it is still paid! The middle package costs $99 per month with the unlimited number of users and the Pro offer starts at $399 per month. The pricing policy here suggests that Ryver is a possible solution for established corporations but not an alternative for start-ups and small businesses.
Key Features (in contrast to Slack):
- Enormous integrations: This feature of Ryver is very close to the Slack in its core. However, Ryver involves the assistance of Zapier and offers 500+ integration. The trick is in Zapier; it allows users to receive no more than 100 tasks in the free package. This means that if your team needs a lot of integrations on a daily basis, you will have to pay for Zapier on top (which is about $250 for 50k tasks). So what was announced as a free communication tool ends up requiring investments.
- Intuitive design: This is yet another loud phrase from the internet. Yes, Ryver struggles to offer intuitive design, yet so far it fails. The buttons and user journey is not intuitive enough and upon the first acquaintance with the solution, one may get lost.
- Management from the message view: This is the feature Ryver is beloved for. Right from the message view, one can create a task, set a reminder in a calendar, add a reaction, start a new topic, or edit/delete/reply to another message. Management of the workflow and monitoring of others performance becomes easy and neat with Ryver regardless of your skills set.
The above-mentioned points clearly justify the fact that Ryver can be positioned among the top best alternative to Slack.
#5. Flock – A perfect Communication and Collaboration Platform for Teams of any size
Flock appeared in the market right after Slack, back in 2014. While it mostly talked about as an app, the service also offers an online platform for those not willing to download an app. The company mainly presents itself as an irreplaceable helper for the HR department to onboard new employees and monitor/manage the work of the current staff.
In the past, Flock’s advantage was unlimited messages history in contrast to Slack. Yet today, their free package does have a limit of 10k messages (just like Slack does). The second offer is called Pro and costs $4 per user per month if billed yearly and $6 if billed monthly. Again, the Enterprise prices vary and require direct contact with the company. The limit of storage space, which was present in Fleep, is also an unpleasant piece of news for those managing large files daily.
Key Features (in contrast to Slack):
- Speed: Flock explicitly demonstrates that itsloading time andfile sharing speed is better than Slack’s. And this is a great advantage unless you love being held by the app while performing your daily tasks.
- Search: Searching inside of the app is amazing with Flock. You can search for people, messages, any piece of information without leaving your current thread or view. However, users report having too many columns while using the search feature in this solution. With Flock, you can get up to 5 vertical columns with information.
- Interface language: The developers introduced complete interface translations into Spanish and Portuguese, which can be a great perk for teams in need of a translated interface.
- Security: Security precautions taken by Flock are also better than the ones of Slack. The service offers TLS 1.2 data encryption and hosting of all the information in the secure cloud of Amazon Web Services (AWS). The enhanced mechanisms allow for controlling data access and user rights among all active members.
- Inside tools: While being inside of a messaging part of the app, you get a number of built-in features like calendar, to-do lists, deadlines, polls and many more to create direct tasks for the team members and not need to use a number of additional tools.
The bottom line
The above-listed software solutions are the most commonly named alternatives to Slack. Some of them are free alternatives to slack, and some are open source slack alternatives. Some are truly worth your attention while others just have a well-known name. Note that the market is filled with other great solutions, such as Bitrix, Mostra, Glip, or Wire. These solutions did not get on our list only because they are not entirely communication tool but rather something greater and, probably, complex for you. Troop Messenger, Trello, Asana, Kezmo, Rainbow are other collaboration software solutions that you can consider.
The market of communication tools continues to evolve, mutate, and progress every day. Remember that new apps and solutions appear daily and many of them can offer even a greater functional spectrum if compared to the established communication and collaboration tools. The world will continue to integrate communication in the form of chats with emails, social media platforms, and management tools to deliver the hybrids to facilitate the workflow and its handling for companies of all sizes. So keep an eye on the innovative collaboration software solutions and dare to try something new!