Communication Channels

VSHN has well-defined communication channels. This page explains the rules and the expected reaction times for each one of them. Some channels are good for short- and some for long-lived discussions; some are mandatory for all VSHNeers to participate in.

Regarding confidentiality, please refer to the ISMS - Richtlinie zur Klassifizierung von Informationen wiki page, which is the source of truth on what information we’re allowed to distribute over which channel.

Please don’t introduce new communication channels without prior approval by the OrgDev chapter and GL.

Written Channels

VSHN Chat

Please check the "Chat Channels" page for more information about the names of important communication channels we use every day.
Functionality

Direct messages to VSHNeers and partners (when invited)

Channel messages for VSHN internal and with partners.

Information Lifetime

Less than 8 hours

  • Bad search experience.

  • No guaranteed history availability.

Used for

Daily written internal communication.

Efficient communication with partners when ticket is too inefficient.

Information Classification Level

Internal

Expected response time of VSHNeers

Direct messages or mentions: ~4h during logged attendance time.

  • Channel messages: best effort.

  • Customer contacting VSHN: best-effort, no guaranteed answer (if urgent customer uses phone or ticket)

Mandatory for VSHNeers

Yes, during logged attendance time.

  • Be online.

  • Or offline but check every few hours.

Please make yourself familiar with the No Hello rule: "Please Don’t Say Just Hello In Chat".

VSHN Announcements Channel

Functionality
  • VSHN wide announcements important to know for every VSHNeer in the #announcements channel.

  • Moderated - Not everyone can post messages. No discussions allowed.

  • Channel in VSHN Chat #announcements.

Information Lifetime

Up to a year

  • Searchable.

Used for
  • Announcements which are mandatory to be read by every VSHNeer.

  • Catch-up after Holidays or longer absences.

Information Classification Level

Internal

Expected response time of VSHNeers

No response expected, it’s a one-way communication.

Mandatory for VSHNeers

Yes, during logged attendance time.

Ticket

Functionality
  • Mention VSHNeers in comments.

  • Comments can be sent to customers.

  • Customer E-Mail replies added as comments.

Information Lifetime

The scope of the ticket

  • Searchable.

  • History with timeline.

Used for
  • Discussion about a specific task.

  • Customer orders and changes.

  • Incidents.

Information Classification Level

Internal

Expected response time of VSHNeers
  • VSHN internal: ~4h.

  • Triage: 15m.

  • Assigned tickets depending on priority: 1-4h.

Mandatory for VSHNeers

Yes, during logged attendance time.

  • React on notifications, check every few hours.

  • Keep your tickets updated.

VSHN E-Mail

Functionality
  • Encrypted or unencrypted.

  • Internal or External communication.

Information Lifetime

A few days to a week

  • For personal use only.

  • Searchable.

Used for
  • Customer and Partner communication which doesn’t fit into tickets.

  • Sales, High Level Project Management.

  • VSHN wide announcements.

Information Classification Level (Unencrypted)

Public

Information Classification Level (PGP encrypted)

Confidential

Expected response time of VSHNeers
  • Next business- or working day, use vacation responder when away.

  • Can depend on role (for example Sales or Project Managers have other rules here)

Mandatory for VSHNeers

Yes, during logged attendance time.

  • Watch for new mails every few hours.

Threema

Functionality
  • Direct messages to VSHNeers.

  • Private use.

  • VSHN channels.

Information Lifetime

Less than 8 hours

  • Bad search experience.

  • No guaranteed history availability.

Used for
  • Getting help (best-effort) out of office hours.

  • Dedicated emergency channel should our VSHN Chat be unavailable.

  • Private communication between VSHNeers.

Information Classification Level

Internal

Expected response time of VSHNeers

Best-effort.

Mandatory for VSHNeers

Yes, during logged attendance time or when OnCall (VSHN Tech channel only).

Available Groups
  • VSHN: Chit-chat channel for all VSHNeers (can be muted). Admin: Aarno Aukia

  • VSHN Tech: Emergency tech channel. Admin: Tobias Brunner

Threema IDs should be scanned by every VSHNeer from every VSHNeer.

Wiki Page Comments / Git Merge Request Comments

Functionality
  • Collaboration on documentation or code, also with partners.

  • Discussions in comments.

Information Lifetime

Less than a year

  • Can be deleted over time.

Used for

Long-living discussions on a specific topic (for example RFC on a process or design draft, or on code)

Information Classification Level

Internal

Expected response time of VSHNeers

Best-effort.

Mandatory for VSHNeers

Yes, be able to search, view and edit documentation / code.

APPUiO Community Chat

Functionality
  • APPUiO customer support best-effort.

  • Direct or channel chats with Puzzle.

Information Lifetime

Less than 8 hours

  • Not really searchable.

  • No guaranteed history availability.

Used for
  • Free best-effort APPUiO customer support (better use tickets)

  • Written efficient communication with Puzzle.

Information Classification Level

Public

Expected response time of VSHNeers

Best-effort.

Mandatory for VSHNeers

No.

VSHN Status Page

Functionality
  • Inform all subscribers.

  • Show status for components.

Information Lifetime

Up to a month

  • No guaranteed history availability.

Used for

Announcing planned work, maintenance window and planned or unplanned service interrupts.

Information Classification Level

Public

Expected response time of VSHNeers

-

Mandatory for VSHNeers

No.

APPUiO Status Page

Functionality
  • Inform all subscribers.

  • Show status for components.

Information Lifetime

Up to a month

  • No guaranteed history availability.

Used for

Announcing planned work, maintenance window and planned or unplanned service interrupts.

Information Classification Level

Public

Expected response time of VSHNeers

-

Mandatory for VSHNeers

No.

Customer specific chat (for example Slack)

Functionality
  • Allows efficient communication with the partner (customer)

  • Customer can have a lot of users there where we might only need few users to join.

  • Besides that, similar to our chat.

Information Lifetime

Less than 8 hours

  • Not really searchable.

  • No guaranteed history availability.

Used for

Efficient communication with partners when ticket is too inefficient.

Information Classification Level

Public

Expected response time of VSHNeers

Best-effort.

Mandatory for VSHNeers

No

  • Partners know that this is best-effort.

  • In urgent cases ticket or phone are the correct channels.

  • For communicating with a customer in his Slack channel f.e. during an incident, there is usually a generic account available in the VSHN password manager.

In-Person Channels

Make sure to document the outcome of any in-person meeting!

Talk

Functionality

Efficient and personal.

Information Lifetime

Up to an hour

  • Except what’s written down.

Used for
  • Getting help, discussing things.

  • Getting to know a person.

Information Classification Level

Internal

  • Depends on involved parties.

Expected response time of VSHNeers

Synchronous, instant.

Mandatory for VSHNeers

Be open to talk and friendly when someone approaches you.

Phone calls

Functionality

Efficient and personal.

Information Lifetime

Up to an hour

  • Except what’s written down.

Used for

See "Talk."

Information Classification Level

Internal

Expected response time of VSHNeers

-

Mandatory for VSHNeers

-

Forward calls

Internal Education

Functionality

Spread knowledge and create awareness

Information Lifetime

Up to a month

  • Except if it’s based on a Wiki or Handbook Topic.

Used For
  • Creating awareness for new processes and technologies

  • Refresh awareness on existing processes and technologies

  • Spread knowledge about technologies, processes workflows and tools.

  • Introdion in to topics.

Mandatory for VSHNeers

Some are.

Meetings

Functionality
  • Efficient when moderated or limited number of attendees.

  • Please refer to the Meetings section of this handbook.

Information Lifetime

Up to two hours

  • See "Talk."

  • Please take notes.

Used for
  • Brainstorming.

  • Retros.

  • Getting everyone on the same page.

  • Meeting partners.

Information Classification Level

Internal

  • See "Talk."

  • When not using unsafe remote conferencing tools.

Expected response time of VSHNeers

Synchronous, instant

Mandatory for VSHNeers

Yes

  • When meeting invites are accepted.

  • Meetings marked as mandatory.

Audio / Video Conference

Functionality
  • Official tool in VSHN is Zoom.

  • Remote audio and video calls.

  • Screen sharing for collaboration and presentations.

  • More details are documented in the Zoom Guidelines page in this handbook, and in the wiki.

Challenges
  • Usually only usable with 3–4 participants.

  • Without (good) video: Missing out on non-verbal communication: facial expressions like smiling/frowning.

  • A (working) headset is required to participate. Plain old voice calls (no Internet): Usually bad experience due to low bandwidth combined with cheap headphones beeing used by participants.

Information Lifetime

Up to two hours

  • Except when recorded

    • Not searchable

    • Not guaranteed

  • See "Meetings"

Used for
  • Same as Meetings, same rules apply

  • Only when In-Person meetings aren’t possible.

  • Dial into broken video conferencing tools (Skype for Business, etc)

Information Classification Level

Internal

Expected response time of VSHNeers

Synchronous, instant

Mandatory for VSHNeers

Yes

  • When invited to a Zoom meeting, prepare yourself, test the tool beforehand, and be ready to use it.

  • When no other option is available.