How Deliveroo uses Slack to improve its onboarding process

Deliveroo’s CIO Will Sprunt explains how Slack has helped the food-delivery company improve onboarding for restaurants and staff – and why the cultural benefits that it brings matter

Launched in London back in 2013, the online food delivery service Deliveroo currently boasts around 10,000 UK restaurants on its platform. The company’s London office also employs roughly 600 people, making the need for an effective communication platform vital.

Collaborative working platforms have become a burgeoning market, with Facebook Workplace, Microsoft Teams and Slack all jostling to be the office collaboration tool of choice.

At Deliveroo, CIO Will Sprunt says the company has always used Slack, with many employees already being familiar with the platform, as well as enjoying how it works.

However, Sprunt didn’t want to the company to become complacent so, when he took over the role of CIO last year, he decided to conduct a large-scale reassessment of the company’s collaboration tools and platforms.

Sprunt found that when the company trialled different products and surveyed employees on their preferred solution, it became very clear that Slack was the platform people wanted to use for instant communication.

“People [at Deliveroo] love using Slack and would be very upset if we took it away,” Sprunt tells Computerworld.


In September 2019, data from Kruze Consulting found that almost 60 percent of startups were using a paid version of Slack, a figure that contrasts greatly with large, established enterprises, of which only 33 percent said they would be using premium Slack in the next quarter.

And another darling of the gig economy 'disruptors', Uber, initally ditched Slack back in 2016, instead opting to use an Atlassian product. The ride-sharing company has now reportedly redeployed Slack alongside its own self-hosted chat app, uChat, built on top of the open source platform Mattermost.

Price certainly was a factor in Deliveroo’s decision, with Sprunt acknowledging that he did question why the firm would want to pay for certain Slack features when its competitors offered almost identical functionality for free.

For Sprunt, the decision to pay for Slack arrived as a result of company-wide user surveys, with the IT team quantifying the “cultural benefits” Slack offered the company and deciding they outweighed any potential cost saving that might result from adopting a different platform.

Additionally, for Sprunt, Slack isn’t just about giving Deliveroo’s current employees an easier way to communicate with each other (and send cat gifs) but it’s also become a necessary tool for helping new employees to navigate some of the complications that come with starting a job.

When employees join Deliveroo, they are sent messages via Slack letting them know what the next steps of their onboarding process are, who they should be meeting and the different tasks they need to complete.

In addition, Deliveroo has also added several of its own extensions and pieces of custom functionality to the platform, designed to help new starters better navigate the company from their very first day.

“One of the things which we really appreciate and love about Slack is the openness of its APIs and the ability to actually customise things on top,” Sprunt explains. “We introduce people at the start of Deliveroo to the ‘What is’ and ‘Where is’ boxes [in Slack], so if you're looking for a particular meeting room, you can just type ‘forward slash: Where is’ [a certain meeting room].”

The same functionality exists for demystifying Deliveroo-specific jargon that new employees might not have come across before. Sprunt explains that by typing “forward slash: What is [jargon]” into Slack, users are provided with a definition as well as the details of the employee who inserted the definition into the platform, meaning users can ask any follow up questions they might have to “a real life human”.

“Integrations and API's change Slack from just a pure communication platform to actually a surface for productivity,” Sprunt says. “We use a mixture of out of the box APIs, applications and integrations as well as ones we've custom developed ourselves.”

Shared channels

Another feature offered by Slack that Deliveroo has made use of is shared Slack channels. While Slack is primarily used by companies to communicate internally, the platform does allow users to create channels that third party users can be given access to.

For example, if Deliveroo has a question relating directly to Slack, account managers can get hold of Slack’s help desk via the platform and have an informal conversation, rather than having to submit an email form and wait for a response.

Deliveroo also shares Slack channels with key external clients, enabling the company to better manage large-scale corporate events.

“If we’re organising a particularly large and complex order, our restaurant partners and our shared service providers can all be in the same Slack channel,” Sprunt explains. “Then if there’s an incident, we can immediately communicate with them as if they were physically in the same office as us.”

The same collaborative working approached can also be achieved via Slack whenever new restaurants sign up with the Deliveroo’s platform. Sprunt says that currently, the company is onboarding hundreds of new restaurants every week. Each of these new restaurants will need to communicate with the organisation’s partner services team, who are part of Deliveroo’s third-party service provider in the Philippines.

While some onboarding processes are already automated, a great deal of it isn’t. Therefore, if restaurants have questions – signing up for promotional deals, picking photography or translating a physical menu onto the platform, for example – they are able do so in a shared Slack channel.

“All of these are things are being coordinated between three different parties, the restaurants, ourselves and the shared service provider in the Philippines,” Sprunt says. “So, being able to do that through the shared Slack channels and being able to coordinate all of those together has been really effective and useful for us.”

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

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