Slack For Dummies
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Slack offers a number of different plans to its customers. Slack’s pricing varies by plan and To state the obvious: the Free version of Slack
is the least expensive one.

Slack’s Free plan

This starter plan allows organizations and their employees to try Slack gratis. The Free version lets you take advantage of a decent amount of Slack’s functionality, but members under this plan can view only a workspace’s most recent 10,000 messages. Older messages are inaccessible, even in search results. What’s more, Slack restricts workspaces to ten third-party apps. If you attempt to add an eleventh, you’ll receive this message:

Workspaces on free subscriptions can only install 10 apps and your workspace has reached the limit. You can add [app name] if you upgrade your workspace or remove one of your existing apps.

Slack’s Free version doesn’t entitle you to use all third-party apps for free in perpetuity; no version does. Apps don’t fall under Slack’s pricing model. They operate under different plans altogether.

Slack does not impose a time limit on Free plans; they do not expire.

When it comes to upgrade options, as of this writing these three exist:
  • Standard plan
  • Plus plan
  • Enterprise Grid

Slack’s Standard plan

Slack markets its least expensive paid option, the Standard plan, to small and midsized businesses. To be fair, though, nothing prevents groups or departments at larger firms from going this route.

Features under this premium plan include guest accounts, single sign-on, multi-workspace channels, and unlimited search. (If there are 257,123 messages in your workspace, then you can search them all.) Slack also throws in group calls, screen-sharing, and unlimited apps.

For this plan, Slack charges $6.67 per person when billed yearly and slightly more per user on a monthly basis.

Slack’s Plus plan

Ideal for larger firms or those with advanced administration tools, Slack’s Plus plan includes all features of the Standard plan. It also sports a guarantee of at least 99.99 percent uptime, enhanced security, data-export functionality, customized message retention, higher user storage limits, and 24/7 email support. For this plan, Slack charges $12.50 per person when billed yearly and slightly more on a monthly basis.

Yes, premium Slack plans lift the ten-app restriction. Don’t expect, however, to be able to use all third-party apps for free.

Slack’s Enterprise Grid

Enterprise Grid represents Slack’s newest, most robust, and priciest offering. The industrial-strength, all-you-can-eat plan is ideal for massive organizations that have gone all-in on Slack. Prominent customers include IBM, Target, and The New York Times. Enterprise Grid appeals to firms that require more granular security features, unlimited licenses, phone support, an insane 1 terabyte of storage per member, and other powerful features.

Slack doesn’t list the price of Enterprise Grid plan on its website. Still, it’s fair to assume two things. First, the annual fee is considerable. Second, that cost varies based on the number of users in the firm. In reality, a 20,000-employee firm may ultimately save money by purchasing Enterprise Grid. Think about the total per-user monthly fees that it would incur by paying for the Slack Plus plan.

People tend not to marry their spouses without having dated them first. Along the same lines, it’s typically wise to try one of Slack’s other premium plans before signing up for Enterprise Grid.

Changing your Slack plan

Slack allows its customers to easily upgrade and downgrade their plans.

Upgrading your Slack plan

To upgrade from one Slack plan to a more robust one, follow these steps:
  1. Click on the main menu.
  2. From the drop-down menu, select Settings & Administration and then Workspace Settings.

    Slack launches a window or tab in your default browser.

  3. Click on the rocket icon on the top right-hand corner of the page.

    Slack presents a pop-up menu with all options as well as a link to compare plans.

  4. Select your desired plan and follow the additional instructions.
Slack walks you the upgrade process. Once you’re successful, you receive an email from Slack and a Slackbot message confirming your upgrade.

Slackbot upgrade Slackbot upgrade confirmation message.

Upgrading your organization’s Slack plan is a binary. That is, you can’t upgrade yourself to a premium plan while keeping the other members on the free plan. This arrangement makes sense because Slack is a team tool, not an individual one.

Downgrading your Slack plan

Your firm can downgrade its Slack plan. Depending on your new plan, it will
  • Lose access to its certain Slack features.
  • Use remaining Slack features to a more limited extent.
  • Need to change channel access for existing guests.
To downgrade, follow the same instructions provided above but select a “lesser” plan.

There are more specific consequences of downgrading your Slack plan.

Slack’s pricing structure

What if Slack magically solved every conceivable workplace and employee issue, but cost $1 million per employee per year? (It doesn’t.) Even if Slack could wave its magic wand, few employers other would even consider it because its price would be prohibitive. Maybe professional sports teams could justify this cost.

Luckily, Slack is remarkably affordable — something that appeals to cost-conscious organizations. Because of Slack’s robust functionality, the juice is more than worth the squeeze.

Starting quickly with Slack

Slack is one of many software vendors to embrace the freemium business model. As such, prospects can begin using Slack and many of its features within minutes and at no cost. Employees unlock additional goodies when their employers upgrade.

Many participants in the business world have seen how executives actively resist new technologies. The reasons vary, but near the top of the list is a sometimes reasonable fear of being locked into long-term contracts and expensive consulting engagements. As your read these words, multiyear IT projects are alive and well.

Again, Slack operates under a different model. Firms can get going almost instantly. Even better, Slack does not require long-term commitments; management can opt to renew the tool every month. What if, for whatever reason, Slack doesn’t take at your organization? After all, no software vendor bats 1.000. The financial harm is minimal, especially compared to traditional software purchases and implementations.

Paying only for the Slack you use

Slack has wisely adopted the SaaS model. Because of this decision, its clients can more efficiently allocate their capital. The rise of cloud computing means that organizations can run Slack without owning and maintaining any hardware themselves.

This dynamic represents a sea change from 25 years ago. As a result, if only 50 employees at Speaker City need Slack’s premium features, then Slack bills the company for only 50 seats. Speaker City’s CIO wouldn’t need to purchase pricey servers and software, much less hire IT-support folks to keep the lights on.

Popular alternatives to Slack exist — a few of which are open-source. It’s not entirely accurate to think of open-source tools as free, though. As the popular saying goes, think free speech, not free beer.

Reviewing accounting considerations

Those with accounting backgrounds should be able to differentiate between the following:
  • Purchasing and deploying a SaaS tool, such as Slack
  • Purchasing and deploying software in the mode prevalent 25 years ago
Organizations generally treat Slack and its ilk as an operating expense (OPEX). that is, the business needs to spend this money to function now and on a daily basis. At the other end of the spectrum is a capital expense (CAPEX), one that businesses incur to realize a potential benefit in the future. Bean counters, company presidents, and chief financial officers (CFOs) generally prefer the flexibility and lower costs of OPEX to CAPEX.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Phil Simon is a frequent keynote speaker, dynamic trainer, recognized technology authority, and college professor-for-hire. He is the award-winning author of ten books, most recently Slack For Dummies and Zoom For Dummies. He consults organizations on matters related to communications, strategy, data, and technology. His contributions have appeared in The Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, and many other prominent media sites. He hosts the podcast Conversations About Collaboration.

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