One of the reasons Slack saw such widespread adoption, especially early on, was the fact that companies could use it for free. Like many SaaS tools, Slack operated on a “freemium” model, meaning organizations could use it for free, and then upgrade as their needs grew.
Slack still offers a free version today, but its paid version now has three pricing tiers. There is the Standard plan, which is aimed at small and medium-sized businesses and priced at $6.67 USD per user per month. The next tier is the Plus plan, which is for larger businesses, priced at $12.50 USD per user per month. Finally, there is Enterprise Grid, which is aimed at large companies, as well as organizations in highly-regulated industries. There is no public pricing for Enterprise Prise Grid—cost depends on the size and complexity of the company.
Unsurprisingly, many organizations continue to stick with the free version, with paid customers making up a relatively small number of active Slack users.
Many paying customers—even large organizations—also opt for the cheaper Standard version. This is an understandable choice, especially if you consider the fact that most of the core Slack functionality (channels, direct conversations, file sharing, video calls, etc.) is available on the Standard plan.
Why pay more when the cheapest version will get the job done? Is Slack’s Enterprise Grid really worth the additional cost? For the majority of large organizations, Enterprise Grid is undoubtedly worth the money because it offers essential tools and features that mitigate the risks of a team collaboration tool like Slack.
What Is Slack Enterprise Grid?
Slack describes its Enterprise Grid as a team collaboration tool designed specifically for large and complex organizations. It allows large companies (with hundreds of thousands of employees) to divide the organization into smaller and more manageable Slack Workspaces, without reducing the ability to contact anyone or collaborate across departments.
Enterprise Grid also offers security and governance features that are non-negotiable in regulated industries like financial services and healthcare, as well as eDiscovery capabilities that are essential for in-house legal teams that need to gain access to files and conversations in Slack.
While these might not be the fun features that grab attention at first glance, they are very necessary in large organizations. Without them, use of Slack in a company can be a frustrating and risky endeavor.
In the section below we’ll look at some of the specific benefits that Enterprise Grid offers.
Benefits of Slack Enterprise Grid
1. Effective Team Collaboration at Scale
As alluded to in the previous section, communications can quickly get out of hand when too many employees are crammed into a single Slack Workspace. Enterprise Grid allows administrators to divide a large organization into separate Workspaces, while also ensuring that they remain connected. By doing this, admins can cut down on the noise and notifications without preventing people in different divisions from connecting and collaborating.
2. Easy Administration at Scale
Enterprise Grid simplifies administration by simultaneously centralizing and delegating user and Workspace management. Company administrators can easily set company-wide rules and policies, but they can also customize policies for individual Workspaces and allow admins of individual Workspaces to do things like approve accounts and add integrations.
3. Improved Security
Unlike the Free and Standard versions, Slack Plus and Enterprise Grid offer security features such as SAML-based single sign-on (SSO), SCIM provisioning, and real-time active directory sync. Enterprise Grid additionally offers features like enterprise key management and custom message retention, and is also the only version of Slack that can integrate with enterprise mobility management (EMM) and security information and event management (SIEM) software.
4. Data Loss Prevention (DLP)
Slack streamlines internal communication, which is a very good thing, but it can also facilitate the sharing of sensitive information that should be kept private. Enterprise Grid helps to mitigate this risk by allowing integration with Monitoring and Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions. These tools actively monitor the platform to ensure that sensitive information isn’t being shared. This can include anything from security-related information like usernames and passwords, to employee and customer info that have serious GDPR and CCPA implications.
5. Archiving and Data Retention
Slack content should fall under the same internal data retention and recordkeeping policies as other data sources like email, website content, and social media. A perfect example of why this is important can be found in financial services, where regulated employees’ Slack communications require the same stringent recordkeeping as their text messages and emails. Enterprise Grid allows an organization’s Slack instance to be integrated with Information Governance and Archiving Solutions that automate Slack data retention and greatly simplify regulatory compliance.
6. Litigation Readiness and eDiscovery
As with email, Slack content can be relevant to employee-related legal matters and other forms of litigation. As a result, legal teams must be able to quickly search and find relevant Slack records, and then export these in defensible format. Enterprise Grid allows for integration with solutions that streamline early case assessment and eDiscovery. Without this kind of integration, legal teams are forced to work with Slack’s JSON exports, which can be incredibly difficult and frustrating to work with.
Any large organization implementing (or already using) Slack should carefully consider the security and governance challenges that the tool can introduce. While Slack is immensely useful—especially during a time when many people are working remotely—it should not be rolled out to thousands of employees before all security, compliance, and data retention implications have been addressed. Thankfully, Enterprise Grid makes it much easier for large organizations so implement Slack in an effective and secure manner.
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