Get started with ChatOps in 3 simple steps

, Product Marketing | March 29, 2017

You spend half your day communicating with your team in chat and the other half jumping between other apps, browser tabs, and email chains. If you’ve ever thought there must be a better way, you’re right on the money. Today’s technology offers the advantage of bringing all your team’s important information into one cohesive workflow. We call this ChatOps.

ChatOps is a way of working with your team by operating everyday tasks within chat. This can be everything from being alerted and resolving critical incidents to monitoring social media and customer engagement platforms. This workflow helps teams be more efficient and cohesive—and it’s simple to start.

By definition, ChatOps is “a collaboration model that connects people, tools, process, and automation into a transparent workflow.” While it may sound complicated, the premise of ChatOps is far from it. It really comes down to three simple steps: set up “Chat,” install your “Ops,” and then put it all together into “ChatOps.”

1. Lay the groundwork for chat success

First off, make sure your team is set up for success on a chat app that supports a ChatOps workflow.

Get your team on board

To bring the “Ops” into “ChatOps,” your team chat tool must have integration capabilities.Integrations connect tools you use like Bitbucket, JIRA, and Trello to HipChat. This will pipe important information into your HipChat rooms so that your team can jump into action when needed.

Create chat rooms for projects & teams

Before diving in too deep with integrations, make sure your team has laid the groundwork. With ChatOps, your chat rooms will become a single source of truth and collaboration. Create chat rooms for every project and team so that teammates know where to go for any information.

These hubs of information will be the cornerstone of your ChatOps workflow. Rooms are where you’ll set up integrations that connect your team and tools together.

Stay connected through apps

Make sure your team is taking advantage of apps across devices—from desktop to mobile. Being able to get alerts and updates from wherever you are is part of what makes ChatOps so effective. There is no need to be chained to your desk to churn out work with your teammates.

2. Set up integrations and automation

Now that your team is collaborating on a chat platform, you’re ready to get all the integrations for the services you use set up.

What’s this “integration” thing?

Integrations pull your whole workflow into a central location, so your team can work incredibly fast. Less context-switching and alt-tabbing, no logging in and out of (allthethings), your tools and communications side-by-side… with all this, you can do a lot to take the work out of work, and blast through problems at a speed that was inconceivable not so long ago.HipChat sidebar integrations

Create your own bots & integrations

Hundreds of services make integrations these days, so you have a wide range to choose from. If one you need doesn’t exist, you can create a custom script or plugin and a bot to execute those commands. Code deployment, team notifications, security alerts…chat bots have been around as long as chat has, but never have they been able to do so much before now.

Chat bots FTW

HipChat also has its own bots that help your team operate everyday tasks, like Standup Bot for recording standup reports and Alias Bot for mentioning groups of people in a room.

Head to our integrations directory to connect the services you use to your HipChat rooms. You’ll also find bots that can be both extremely useful and fun.

Creating a single source of truth for all your information—whether it comes from teammates or your critical services—will minimize the time it takes to connect and make decisions as a team.

3. Develop a culture of ChatOps

Now that you’ve combined “Chat” with “Ops,” you’re ready to implement ChatOps processes. While you’ve got the framework for ChatOps, you need to develop a team culture that supports it.

Kick the email habit

Many of us have worked in environments where the norm is constant email-checking. Failure to do so often means wasted time and a delayed resolution. ChatOps, however, mimics a more natural way of working, forgoing the formalities of email for a transparent workflow where collaboration happens alongside action.

Make sure your team knows that chat is the default form of communication, rather than email. This doesn’t mean you eliminate email altogether, but that chat is your team home base and where actual collaboration takes place.

Use notifications to stay aware & active

Notifications make sure you never miss an important message. When you send a message in a room, everyone is notified and put to action at the same time. Any subsequent actions will be visible to your team through notifications or chat.

The above image is an example of how a team can use ChatOps to collaborate on a project from start to finish. This marketing team is executing a campaign, and one teammate calls everyone to action with an “@here” mention. Teammates respond promptly, and everyone is alerted when there is a change on the project’s JIRA ticket.

The whole team is immediately alerted when the ticket has gone from “in progress” to “done.” While a simple example, this shows how chat can fuse with your other tools, creating a synchronous workflow. No need to go seek out information—instead, let the information come to where you’re already working and within the context of that particular project.

One of our favorite adages is “Work smarter, not harder”—and that’s exactly what ChatOps was made to do. Transitions are always a little weird and not always smooth, but in our experience, the transition from older styles of working to ChatOps can—and frequently does—go smoother than most.