Smooth communication and seamless collaboration are quintessential for the efficient functioning of remote teams. And even if your team meets in person every week, they still need to share assets and chat with each other, which makes collaboration apps indispensable for any team, anywhere, of any size.
Two of the most popular team collaboration apps available today are Notion and Slack. While Notion is used commonly by small businesses, Slack is common for most companies in mid-market and enterprise segments.
There are many similarities and differences between these tools — your business model, team structure, and existing tool kit would determine which of the two products would work the best for you.
In this article, we will explore just that. We will discuss key features of both tools from a team collaboration perspective, as well as their related functionalities. We will also cover some shortcoming of both the products and also gauge their worth in terms of pricing.
Let's get started.
Everything you need to know about Notion
- In the world of modern project and team management, you need a tool that does it all for you. It should not just help your team collaborate in real-time but also store your files and let you organize them thematically.
- For most requirements, you will find Notion to be the most holistic tool for managing your team activities seamlessly. In the next few sections, we will discuss the salient features of Notion that make it ideal for team collaboration and also where it lacks. Let’s dive in:
Features of Notion for team collaboration
- Project management
Managing projects, small scale or large, involves an element of team collaboration. Your team needs to have a common view of the tasks and the capability to update task ownership, status, related assets, etc.
Notion simplifies project management though its database feature. You can easily create Notion databases and view them in different formats such as lists, calendars, timelines, kanban boards, etc.
You can also create and customize tasks with the properties you want. Each task doubles up as a new Notion page that can also contain assets such as images, videos, gifs, etc. Properties such as “Status”, “Owner”, “Due Date” etc. can help you check the status and ownership of each task in the project.
- Customizable workspaces
It’s easy to create a workspace in Notion and add only selected team members to it. These workspaces allow your team to securely share content and collaborate without worrying about anyone from outside the workspace accessing the assets.
- File structuring
What Notion excels at, which Slack doesn't support, is the ability to organize files in a structured manner. You can easily create Notion folders based on themes. For example, if your team is responsible for managing and creating content in Notion, you might want to create a folder with all scheduled articles listed as subpages.
This parent-child structure is easily accessible from the left-pane of Notion. This structuring also allows you to search for your assets easily.
- Commenting and mentions
As we already established, each Notion task doubles up as a Notion page. Often, you might need many team members to work on the same task, which is where the feature of commenting and mentioning helps.
For example, if the task ownership changes from employee A to B after some input from A, but if B needs to double-check with A on something, B can simply add a comment tagging A by using the “@” operator. A can respond and maybe C can chip in to give more context. This is the pinnacle of team collaboration and Notion makes it seamless.
- Notion to website
What you can’t do on Slack but do it easily in Notion is creating a website from the content stored within the platform. Notion acts as a headless CMS which means you can create a barebone website with your content. You just have to push Notion pages live for them to be available to anyone with an internet connection.
You can even create a fully functional website with Notion by using Super. Super enables you to design your Notion websites to brand and optimize you content for SEO, among a plethora of other features.
Shortcomings of Notion as a team collaboration app
1. Lack of conferencing features
Notion does not support video and audio conferencing features. Collaboration between team members is limited to commenting and mentioning.
2. Steep learning curve
Notion's versatile framework acts as a double-edged sword. For newcomers, there may be an initial hurdle in adapting to the platform's relatively complex interface. However, as users become more familiar with Notion's capabilities, it often establishes itself as the favored choice among project managers, thanks to its comprehensive array of features.
3. Hard to keep things simple
Notion's vast array of features and options offers unparalleled versatility but can also lead to information overload. Users often find themselves navigating a maze of databases, templates, and pages, which makes tracking everything difficult.
How is Notion Rated?
Notion is rated 4.1 on a 5-point scale, with 5,240 reviews on G2.
Everything you need to know about Slack
Slack is not just a messaging platform; it's a comprehensive ecosystem designed to streamline team communication and collaboration. Whether you're part of a small startup or a large enterprise, Slack offers a dynamic space where your team can connect, share ideas, and work together seamlessly, regardless of geographic boundaries.
In the next few sections, we will delve into the various features that make Slack a favored choice for team communication and collaboration. We'll explore how Slack empowers teams to create channels, share files, integrate with other tools, and enhance productivity. However, it's important to remember that no tool is without its drawbacks, and we will also take a closer look at some of the cons and potential challenges associated with using Slack.
Features of Slack for team communication
1. Cross-device Applications
One of the key advantages of Slack is that you can smoothly transition between devices, without losing content or context. Whether you lean towards the website, the mobile app, or the desktop application, Slack simplifies the process of switching among them, ensuring that you can remain connected in a manner that aligns perfectly with your preferences.
Slack applications, irrespective of the device they are on, are super-efficient in terms of system resource utilization. They run smoothly without burdening your device’s performance, guaranteeing that you can stay connected without disrupting your workflow.
Slack's applications also offer exceptional versatility. They allow users to form groups and collaborate easily and securely within the organizational teamspace.
2. Live Chat
Live chat is the core feature of Slack that got it the popularity it has today. Slack successfully managed to replace all local messaging software across large and small organizations and establish a brand for itself.
You can easily create channels with thousands of people in your workspace or even create small groups like you would do on WhatsApp. The ease of getting selected audiences into a chat window and communicating with them seamlessly with the use of emoji, images, and most media, makes Slack the top live chat tool for businesses.
3. Screen sharing
While the new huddle feature in Slack leaves a lot to be desired, the screen sharing feature is on point. Slack allows you to talk with others in the team space and also share the whole screen or selected windows.
Shortcomings of Slack as a communications app
1. Video & Audio Conferencing
While Slack has improved its video conferencing capabilities over time, users seeking a comprehensive video communication experience have often turned to dedicated video conferencing solutions, which offer specialized features and a more seamless video conferencing experience.
Audio conferencing in Slack also leaves a lot to be desired. While basic audio conferencing capabilities exist, they may lack the comprehensive features and stability found in specialized conferencing solutions.
In short, Slack's audio and video calling features meet fundamental requirements but do not deliver the same level of quality as mainstream audio and video conferencing platforms. For top-notch audio quality and seamless communication, exploring conferencing solutions designed for these purposes might be more suitable.
Slack does offer a search function but it is not advanced enough to help you pinpoint specific information within past conversations, especially when keywords or context are unclear. This can lead to a time-consuming and less effective search process, particularly when retrieving older messages or files.
Another challenge lies in the lack of straightforward navigation to historical items. You would find yourself wanting for a more streamlined method to access past files, chats, and resources, particularly those from an earlier time.
The current navigation system for historical items can be somewhat disorganized and less intuitive, potentially hindering productivity and complicating the efficient retrieval of essential information.
Furthermore, the difficulty of locating old content becomes even more pronounced as your team scales. This absence of structure can result in a frustrating search experience and potentially slow down your workflows.
Slack lacks comprehensive scheduling features for calls and meetings, making it challenging to schedule and manage appointments. Moreover, the absence of integration with daily planners or calendars results in a disjointed scheduling experience, making it less convenient for planning your day.
Technical challenges, such as calls not automatically starting after machine boot-up and pop-up notifications appearing on the lock screen, even when the machine is locked, can disrupt your workflow and potentially breach security protocols, affecting the overall scheduling experience.
While Slack excels in communication, it may not provide the necessary features for tracking the progress of projects. Managing project progress within the platform can be challenging, potentially leading to important details getting lost in lengthy conversations and missed deadlines.
Slack notifications are not very reliable, they are quite inconsistent, leading to missed messages and disruptions to your workflow.
Also, you might find the notifications generated by Slack's "mention & reactions" feature quite overwhelming. The abundance of information can lead to confusion and make it challenging to focus on the most relevant updates.
The delay in “@mention” notifications is yet another concern. This lag can result in a backlog of unread messages and missed relevant notifications, causing potential communication gaps and delays in responding to important messages.
The unreliability of the huddle sound, used to signal notifications, is another issue noted by users. It doesn't always work as expected and often provides poor-quality alerts, which can disrupt your ability to respond promptly to incoming messages. At times, you won’t even know when you would have missed a huddle.
While Slack offers ample integration options, learning how to use this feature is challenging. Learning the navigating channels, understanding message threads, and mastering integrations within Slack can require a significant amount of time and effort, presenting a learning curve challenge, especially for new users.
The pricing plans for Slack, especially for larger teams that require advanced features or extensive integrations, can be relatively expensive, making it less appealing for organizations seeking more budget-friendly integration solutions.
Furthermore, Slack's integrations are limited to being strictly professional and HR-sensitive, potentially restricting the types of integrations you can implement.
How is Slack rated?
Slack is rated 4.5 on a 5-point scale, with 31,689 reviews on G2.
Notion vs Slack - Features Comparison
Now that we have discussed the features and shortcomings of Notion and Slack individually, let’s combine them together and see how they measure up against each other.
Let’s get started.
1. Content organization
If your goal is to organize all your team assets in one place and access them when you need to, Notion is a better choice than Slack. With Notion, you can arrange your content and assets into a folder-subfolder structure, enabling you to find your assets seamlessly.
This feature is not available in Slack. While you can share files in Slack and sort of store them in the server, it’s always a challenge to locate those files when required, as established under the shortcomings of Slack.
That’s why, if content organization and easy access is your goal, you might want to prefer using Notion over Slack.
2. Team collaboration
In Notion, you can use a robust commenting and mentions system that's great for efficiently managing tasks and projects. You and your team can have detailed discussions right on task pages, making communication and progress tracking seamless. With the "@" operator, you can tag specific team members, ensuring they're promptly notified and can join the conversation. This approach streamlines task-related discussions and keeps everyone informed about project developments.
On the other hand, in Slack, you'll also find mentions using the "@" symbol, but it's primarily for quick communication in chat conversations and channels. While it's effective for swift exchanges, Slack's mentions may not offer the same depth and context for task management discussions as Notion's commenting and mentions system.
3. Project management
Notion excels in simplifying project management through its versatile database feature. You can effortlessly create customized databases and display them in various formats, such as lists, calendars, timelines, or kanban boards. This flexibility enables your team to maintain a shared perspective on tasks, their progress, and associated resources.
Each task within Notion functions as a dedicated page, accommodating diverse content types. Important attributes like "Completion Status," "Assigned Owner," and "Deadline" facilitate task monitoring and ownership within projects. Additionally, Notion's workspace structure allows the establishment of secure, tailored workspaces, ensuring that specific team members can access relevant data.
On the other hand, Slack, proficient in real-time communication, is not primarily designed for comprehensive project management. It may lack the structured environment required for precise project planning and tracking. Slack's core strength lies in chat-based communication, which, while effective for discussions, may not offer the same level of organization and depth as Notion in the context of project management.
Notion primarily focuses on project and task management, which means it doesn't offer extensive conferencing features. In Notion, you can't conduct video or audio conferences directly within the platform. Instead, its strength lies in providing a structured environment for project planning, task management, and content organization. While this is beneficial for keeping tasks and projects organized, it may require you to use external conferencing tools for your communication needs.
Slack, on the other hand, excels in real-time communication, including video and audio conferencing. It allows you to host meetings, webinars, and collaborative sessions seamlessly. Slack's video conferencing capabilities have improved over time, making it a viable option for team meetings and discussions. However, it's important to note that while Slack offers basic conferencing features, it may not provide the same level of quality and advanced features as dedicated video conferencing solutions.
Notion vs Slack - Pricing Comparison
While Slack and Notion both offer free versions, you can use almost all features of Notion without paying — like creating teamspaces, commenting, creating databases,etc.. On the other hand, you are limited to one-to-one huddle calls and only 10 integrations with Slack.
Among the paid plans, Notion offers three plans:
- Plus Plan - $8 per person per month when billed annually and $10 when billed monthly
- Business Plan - $15 per person per month when billed annually and $18 when billed monthly
- Enterprise Plan - Custom pricing
Slack also offer three paid plans:
1. Plus Plan - $7 per person per month when billed annually and $9 when billed monthly
2. Business Plan - $12 per person per month when billed annually and $14.5 when billed monthly
3. Enterprise Plan - Custom pricing
You might want to consider using Notion instead of Slack for project level team collaboration features because of the 360-degree project view and task level conversation features that Notion offers.
Furthermore, Notion allows you to organize your content seamlessly and also turn it into a functional website. This allows you to find your content easily, unlike Slack where the search feature leaves a lot to be desired.
Slack, however, is useful if you only wish to set up chat communication and a basic conferencing setup within your team. Yet, if you already use tools like Zoom, you might find Notion a better option because of the deeper collaboration features you get even with its free plan.