developer productivity

27 things enterprises can learn from startups to increase productivity

How do you bring the productivity of small, fast-moving startups into enterprises with massive organizations and heavy regulatory obligations?

It starts with analyzing and understanding the workflows and approaches startups use to achieve world-class agility, efficiency and innovation.

Then you need to prioritize these “recipes” based on the impact they can have on your enterprise.

Next, step by step, try out the recipes you think will have the most impact and look at the results. The more success you demonstrate, the more open your enterprise becomes to the transformation these new processes provide.

At Mattermost, we’ve helped thousands of organizations including HPE, Samsung, and the U.S. Department of Energy modernize their communications and, as a result, implement the innovative processes and discoveries startups and open source communities are known for.

What follows is a description of 27 processes and techniques we’ve seen effectively translated to enterprise across a range of industries: high-tech, banking, healthcare, public sector, defense, manufacturing and research, among others.

Based on the needs and objectives of your enterprise, you can decide which ones to try out for the biggest increases in performance:

General Use Cases: Increase performance across every discipline through communication that’s more convenient and better organized than email.

DevOps Use Cases: For enterprises where technology is vital to success, DevOps use cases speed development, while increasing quality and reliability.

Organizational Use Cases: For large organizations, these use cases simplify and streamline collaboration with a high number of stakeholders.

Advanced Automation Use Cases: When you want your teams working on the cutting edge of technology, consider these advanced uses cases to achieve peak performance.

Let’s dive into the details of each category.

General Use Cases

1. Enterprise-wide Messaging
Begin the journey to consolidate your legacy instant messaging systems with a single, compliant modern workplace messenger designed to reach anyone you need—whether they work in the heart of your data center or on-site with a customer. Connect with anyone, anywhere.

A single, secure messenger reduces redundancy while making it easy to check availability, facilitate real-time group chats, send private messages and communicate asynchronously with anyone on any device. All communications are archived to create a persistent history that’s available across devices with instant search functionality and unified alerts.

2. New Hire Training

Instead of asking a manager to spend their whole day getting a new hire up to speed, invite rookies to join key channels so they can quickly read chat histories and get up to speed on their own.

Once a new hire joins relevant channels, they can read histories and context to see what the team is working on and quickly understand how a team interacts or where things stand on a certain project.

3. Approvals and Reviews

Similarly, you can also use messaging to help reviewers or approving managers gauge precisely where a project or initiative stands at any given moment.

For example, an operations team might invite the person who oversees release management to quietly monitor their channel as they go through a checklist to make sure the new release is ready to be rolled out. Instead of having to ask a ton of different people a ton of different questions, the approving manager could simply review the progress that’s been made by reading the channel history at their own pace.

4. Headlines

You can create standalone channels to post and store headlines and alerts that are either automatically published via bots or added manually by relevant stakeholders.

This enables you to easily review headlines of issues that are occurring in different systems (e.g., help desk, forums and Twitter). As a result, you won’t have to toggle between different platforms to see what’s going on there. All of that information can be routed to your messenger.

5. Business Monitoring

Increase awareness and accelerate decision-making by connecting business applications, such as SAP or Oracle, to real-time messaging channels for the latest updates.

For example, you can stream daily sales reports for a specific product line across geographies into a channel to monitor business activity and ask questions to stakeholders about the business, and launch reaction and optimization plans. You can do this for customer support, for social media, and many other standard business functions, easily managed channel by channel, that would be chaotic to manage in email.

6. Topic-specific Groups

Create specific channels for topic-specific groups so stakeholders can easily share pertinent information with each other. These dedicated channels can serve as communities of practice where passionate professionals learn from and share knowledge with one another by discussing tips and tricks, information about industry trends, news about new tools and gadgets that support job functions and more.

For example, you might create a channel exclusively for developers, one for product managers and another for UX designers. Those channels would each be full of employees talking about how to become more productive and more impactful in their roles. As an added bonus, the channels could also be used to organize team-building events and meetups.

DevOps Use Cases

7. ChatOps
Implement ChatOps as a modern way of working that brings people, tools and discussions together to increase productivity and help businesses move faster. Organizations that run on ChatOps to combine automated monitoring and system resolution with human oversight and analysis to maximize uptime and efficiency.

ChatOps rewards organizations for improvements to efficiency, automation and innovation with higher reliability, faster incident response times and thousands of hours in productivity savings.

8. Social Coding

Over the last several years, social coding has become a highly successful model in the open source community, where developers encourage one another to contribute to the most important projects.

Messaging enables enterprises to unlock the power of social coding in-house. Quality, consistency and speed are improved dramatically when developers can efficiently request and share feedback on technical approaches.

9. War Rooms

Create a dedicated and dynamic war room channel on your messaging platform so that when crises occur, the right people know where they have to go immediately—or are brought there automatically. This saves crucial time compared to the old way of doing things where people needed to be tracked down before problems could be solved.

Modern messaging enables businesses to quickly bring dynamic teams together to achieve specific goals (e.g., getting your network back online) and then disbursing once the job is done.

10. Ops Theater

During a critical outage, it’s vital that stakeholders across an enterprise understand the impact and real-time state of the infrastructure that’s unavailable.

In an outage, messaging channels serve as “Ops Theater,” where perhaps five to ten engineers are working diligently on resolving the issue while hundreds—sometimes thousands—of stakeholders and spectators monitor the update channel in real time to provide updates downstream to customers.

Observers can also participate, too. For example, in a telecom outage, observers in different geographies can run tests for the engineers working to fix the issues at hand.

Quite simply, Ops Theater provides effective, high-scale, real-time awareness across an enterprise from any location and any device. Compare this to conference calls, where new joiners need to repeatedly be brought up to speed as they dial in and physical meeting rooms that are often missing key people due to geographic constraints.

11. NoOps

Largely considered to be the next stage in the evolution of DevOps, NoOps occurs when teams have implemented highly automated systems for operations, monitoring and restoration. Here, when outages occur or bugs are identified by one bot, another bot or automated process executes procedures to recover.

Messaging empowers organizations to move closer to NoOps, shifting from people actively monitoring machines and workflows to having bots monitor them, with people overseeing the bots as needed. This enables operations staff and developers to reclaim time and increase productivity.

12. Notifications Hub

Open source messaging solutions are completely customizable. You can integrate standard, custom and legacy systems into your central messaging interface to serve as a notifications hub while streamlining workflows. As a result, you can reduce “noise” from a cluttered communications landscape while eliminating the risk of missed notifications.

Using your messenger as a notifications hub enables you to ensure everyone is on the same page because there’s only one version of the truth. Establish central procedures for monitoring and responding to notifications and you won’t have to worry about anyone missing something or doing things the wrong way. Everything is out in the open.

13. Observation and Coaching

Messaging platforms are also invaluable tools for team performance management.

Instead of having to laboriously interview team members, managers and other experts can use their messengers to look into workstreams for observation and coaching purposes. This is a key benefit of the transparency that comes along with using team-based collaboration systems to power operations.

Managers and mentors can use a messaging platform that has persistent history to occasionally review chat histories and diagnose communication issues to improve processes for the future. The platform can also be used for both formal and informal assessments and coaching, providing feedback in real time (as opposed to annual or semi-annual performance reviews).

Organizational Use Cases

These use cases share examples of how messaging channels can be used to simplify and streamline communications for different purposes.

14. Projects

Create dedicated channels for specific projects (e.g., “Retail website redesign”) and invite all members and stakeholders to join. This way, everyone who’s involved knows where discussions are occurring and where files and other relevant assets are stored.

Run meetings and facilitate discussions in the open, within the channel, directly on the platform. This saves a ton of time that would traditionally be spent responding to requests or reporting on updates or other news. Meeting participants can check the channel at their own leisure to see what the team has been up to. Managers can learn what issues are holding the team back in real time.

15. Teams and Subteams

Create channels for each team and each sub-team collaborating on a project (e.g. engineers would be a channel for the entire engineering team, and front-end, mobile and backend channels might support sub-team discussions). Or do it just in the general sense (e.g., a channel for product managers, a channel for developers and a channel for designers).

Small sub-team channels allow for effective, “narrowcast” conversations specific to the sub-team, which could be project components, professional development, sub-team events and administrative tasks. New hires can also join team channels to quickly catch up on history and find out what’s being worked on.

16. Discussions

Create channels for specific discussion topics. For example, a channel on artificial intelligence, a channel on test-driven development and a channel that facilitates discussions on developer marketing. These work the same as topic-based chat rooms but add the extra benefit of real-time communication. Participants can ask urgent questions to an audience of engaged experts and enthusiasts who can then respond right away (or at their own convenience).

Messaging platforms can also be used for team-building purposes. Create channels for discussions of popular sports teams, hobbies or random internet gems.

17. Geography

Have a distributed team working at offices (or homes or coffee shops) scattered across the country or the world? Use your messaging platform to bring employees in similar geographical regions together. Create channels for each location.

This functionality is particularly useful for networking events or administrative memos. Newcomers can also easily see what’s going on nearby and join in on the fun.

18. Meetings

Traditional meetings kill productivity. Everyone has to travel from Point A to Point B and get there at the same time. Move your meetings to Mattermost to save time, increase engagement and improve productivity.

For example, set up a channel for a recurring meeting (e.g., weekly or monthly). Post new topics to the channel before the meeting begins so employees have time to ask questions or follow up ahead of it. Of course, they can also gather their thoughts and ask questions when the meeting begins. Using a messenger for meetings encourages participants to resolve issues in-channel before they begin in order to save time.

19. Help Desk

Messaging platform can be used to help workers learn how to do things. Create an exclusive Help Desk channel and direct new (and existing) employees to it. This way, whenever anyone isn’t sure about how to do something or has a question about particular topics or systems, they’ll know exactly where to go.

Over time, you can use the information gathered here to compile a FAQ document or wiki.

20. Outsider Onboarding

Use your messaging platform to bring a consultant, adviser or visiting team member up to speed quickly whenever outside help is needed, putting them on equal footing with the rest of the team.

Invite the advisor to join a relevant channel temporarily so they can read up on what’s happening before offering their advice or beginning their work. Once the consultant’s job is done, you can restrict their access moving forward. In addition to making it easy for consultants to contribute, your company will save time that would have otherwise been spent getting the individual up to speed manually.

Advanced Automation Use Cases

21. Key Issue Monitoring

Create bots to monitor systems or other queues for particular keywords and have that information automatically filtered to the right people at the right time. For example, if there’s a bug in Salesforce, the Salesforce support team can be notified the moment that happens.

Use workplace messaging to watch for specific issues in systems (e.g., critical bugs and VIP escalations). This way, you won’t have to invest time hopping from one platform to the next only to find out everything is operating smoothly. Employees will only be notified when they need to be.

22. Notifications

Workplace messaging can be used to automatically notify teams of major system events (e.g., moving offline or moving online) and other errors. Bots can automatically publish this information, freeing employees to focus on other mission-critical tasks.

You can also build bots to escalate issues that may have been missed. For example, create a bot that notifies team leaders if no one responds to an issue within 30 minutes.

23. Automated Questions & Answers

Create bots in your messaging platform that automatically provide information about uptime, system statistics and records based on ID or attributes. This way, employees don’t have to ask each other status questions. They ask the bot and the bot responds automatically.

This functionality is particularly useful for in-chat discussions. No one has to leave the platform to track down the information they need.

24. Automated Remediation

Use bots to automatically repair services and notify relevant stakeholders about what’s taken place. For example, a bot can detect failure based on notifications in a specific channel and automatically restart a service without requiring any human input.

Automated remediation is another way to reclaim time while increasing productivity and ensuring a better user experience.

25. Inline System Updates

Bots can also be used to turn your messenger into a chat interface for ticketing and other work-status systems. Users can type simple commands to directly update tickets within their chat tool, saving them from having to hop to yet another interface.

An additional benefit of setting attributes inline is that everyone can later see the history of operations, in context, right in their chat history.

26. Diagnostics

Create a bot and use workplace messaging to run diagnostics and post the results when prompted. Remember, bots can report on a scheduled time (e.g., 7 a.m. every morning) or they can be activated via user prompts on-demand.

This functionality is useful for both routine monitoring and troubleshooting purposes. Again, this automation frees employees to focus on other important tasks.

27. Health Checks

Bots can also report on system statuses within your messaging platform, providing links to relevant dashboards. This is useful for spot checks and ongoing automation initiatives to make sure that everything is working optimally and as designed.

Whether you are looking to increase productivity, improve communications, empower your DevOps team, leverage automation or become more organized, Mattermost can help.

To learn more about how your enterprise can use Mattermost to get the next level, sign up for a free trial or contact sales today.


Ian Tien is CEO and co-founder of Mattermost, Inc., an open source platform for secure collaboration across the entire software development lifecycle. Hundreds of thousands of developers around the globe trust Mattermost to increase their productivity by bringing together team communication, task and project management, and workflow orchestration into a unified platform for agile software development.