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Irish poet John O’Donohue once said that email is like coming
home at night after a long day and finding 70 people in your kitchen.
We have all experienced the increased influx of email, and the
interruptions it can create on a busy day, if not managed properly.
This brief will discuss a variety of issues we have experienced
with email and suggestions on dealing with them.
Time Wasters: Many people waste an incredible
amount of time monitoring and re-visiting their email without resolving
issues. One of the best
habits to get into is deleting non-essential email immediately
after reading it the first time.
Another good habit is either placing the folder into an active
work folder or to forward it to the person that can address the issue.
If forwarding to a group of people consistently, take the time
to create a distribution list so it can be sent quickly, and avoid the
“everyone” list except when warranted.
Finally, make sure your email has an automatic spell checker
and signature line, as they will make your email correspondence more
professional and save you typing time.
Managing, Filtering, and Storage:
We all have to get a handle on the volume of email that comes in every
day. By setting your email checker to update only on certain intervals,
(i.e. 20 minute delay) you can be assured that there will be some uninterrupted
time. Creating folders
for specific projects and having mail filtered directly to them will
also save time. We receive regular Berst Alerts from ZDNet, which are automatically
filtered utilizing Outlook rules into its own folder.
We can then review the folder when time is available. We also
use rules to filter emails from specific clients (into that clients
own folder) or to “auto-reply” to emails when we are on vacation and
not likely to respond. Storage
of old email is a huge problem (especially in larger firms) as the volume
can slow down everyone’s email.
Most firms put limitations on each individual’s file size, (usually
50-100Mb), that are monitored by network personnel.
When the limit is breached, the staff person is usually given
a set time to clean it up or to justify the need.
The data can then be archived or deleted according to firm policy.
Firm Email is a business asset and should be viewed as such.
We all receive a certain amount of personal email (as we do phone
calls), but some personnel spend an inordinate amount of time reading
and forwarding non-business emails. These emails can eat into other people’s productivity as well,
and can also get the firm in trouble if they are of an offensive nature
to the receiver. The first
step to reduce this problem is to implement a computer usage policy
and to enforce it. Management
must inform and educate staff on the policy and should encourage employees
to use a personal email account for non-business items.
By using a personal email account, it will move these emails
off of the company server (reducing volume) and most of the reading/forwarding
offsite, during the employee’s personal time.
SPAM (or unsolicited junkmail) is a serious problem in this country
(at any one time, AOL estimates that 30% of emails are SPAM) as it eats
up resources and bandwidth. Many
firm personnel create SPAM without even knowing it by forwarding emails
to “everyone you know” about a virus hoax or other urban myth.
The best way to deal with SPAM is to delete it or have it automatically
filtered out of your email account (Microsoft Outlook
has a "junk email" option under the Actions tab to do this).
Limited Bandwidth: Most firms have purchased a dedicated
ISDN, xDSL, Cable or T-1 line to the Internet, which is shared by all
personnel. As Internet
usage increases, the bandwidth is filled up and access times get slower
(which can be counter-productive).
Before spending more money on increased bandwidth, it is important to
evaluate how the current bandwidth is being utilized. As
mentioned above, SPAM can account for a portion of this, but there are
other applications that have a live connection to the Internet.
Internet radio, stock tickers, and information services such
as PointCast are often set up to broadcast and update in real time.
While one person utilizing one of these services may not use
up much bandwidth, an entire firm of users does, which slows down access
for everyone. Also, personnel
that actively monitor stock quotes/trades throughout the day cannot
be thinking about client information when one of their investments is
plummeting during a phone call.
Security of Data: Very few firms would leave a client’s
financial information lying around the lobby and most have a policy
of keeping client data secure and confidential.
This policy should be extended to confidential data sent via
email. As a minimum, passwords
from within the applications (Word, Excel, PKZip) should be used or
a public key encryption technology such as PGP (Pretty Good Privacy).
Once personnel have been trained on encrypting data, your firm can act
as an example for your clients.
InfoTech Partners North America, Inc.
13656 South 37th Place
Phoenix, AZ 85044-4531
Phone: (480) 706-1728
Fax/Voicemail: (480) 718-8880
We are in business to service and act on behalf of our clients. Please review our Privacy Statement and Declaration of Integrity. For comments regarding this website, please email ITPartner@itpna.com or call (480) 706-1728. All information presented here is the opinion of InfoTech Partners North America Inc. or the respective authors of the various articles and is not to be construed as legal or technical advice. Please consult your lawyer or technical person for specific utilization.
InfoTech Partners North America, Inc. , 13656 S. 37th Place, Phoenix, AZ 85044 Email: ITPartner@itpna.com Phone: (480) 706-1728 Fax: (480) 718-8880