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  • Joe Wichowski 3:49 pm on April 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Microsoft Exchange, ,   

    Save a couple $grand$ on email every year… 

    For the past several months, we’ve been converting some of our customers over to Office365.  In fact, we’ve been able to prove savings of $2k to $5k per year for each customer (over 3 years), depending on the number of users converted.  This product is a serious cost-savings tool.  And now, Microsoft is making it easier than ever to switch.

    Until June, Microsoft’s Big Easy 8 sale is going on.  This means you can get a E1 plan (Exchange, Sharepoint, and Windows Live meetings) for just $8 per user, per month (less than $100 per year per user!).  Or, if you also could benefit from upgrading all users to Microsoft Office 2010, then get the E3 plan at just $20 per user, per month.  This means that for price of Office 2010 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) you get hosted Exchange and Sharepoint for free!  Microsoft will even give you some additional cash back to use for future training like our Outlook Productivity training for Sales and Operations staff.

    We’ve been using Office365 here for about a year.  We switched from Lotus Notes.  For us its a no brainer – we no longer are in the “support” business for our email, and can just get after the business of helping our customers.  We’ve even done it in such a way that we still leverage our Lotus Notes applications as-is – only our email is switched to Office365.  And its been rock-solid reliable, just like Lotus Notes was for us.  (Why did we switch from Lotus?  Simple – momentum.  Most of our customers switched to Exchange/Outlook, so we needed to better support and train them.  The best way to do that is to use what they use.  Sad for Lotus – their job is marketing, our job is helping customers.)

    If you haven’t checked out Office365, or haven’t seen a demo, click on our link here to start a free trial.  It will basically set you up with a 25 user E3 account so you can see how easy it is to use its online collaboration features (Sharepoint) for your team.  You can even setup temporary email accounts to test the email features as well.

    Or, if you would like someone to just walk you through it, please do not hesitate to give me a call or shoot me an email.

  • Joe Wichowski 8:29 am on February 2, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Microsoft Exchange,   

    Eliminate the dreaded “reply-all” from your company… 

    We’ve all hate getting them – the dreaded “reply all” emails.  Too often, employees and co-workers continually use and abuse this button, to the extent that email is now “broken” in many companies throughout the business world.  Its sad really.  One little button can essentially ruin a function that was created to actually save people time.  Now however, it is one of the bigger time-wasters in our daily lives.

    It’s the equivalent to spam in the business to business world – only you can’t opt-out.  You can fight back, however, and set up your life to better manage these CC’s (and BCC’s) and get back to the world of the important and urgent.

    The goal of this post is to:

    • Make people “think” before hitting the reply-all button.  Should it go to a shorter distribution list, or does everyone really need to know this?
    • Punish those (a little bit) with an immediate confirmation “Thank you” back to the sender.  So, if they reply-all to 20 people, they will get 20 emails back saying “thanks!”
    • Explore the use of Social tools within the enterprise to try to curb the reliance on Email for non-critical / non-actionable information within the company.

    Setup a Rule

    The thing about email systems that most people forget is – you can make rules.  Rules are great – they automate the movement of emails and information as its sent to you.  It can be moved and replied to.  So, if you make a rule to move CC, BCC, and “Reply-All” emails

    To set this up in Microsoft Outlook, go into your rules.  You will need to add  separate rules for this.  This is due to the fact that the “reply” rule is a Server-side rule , and the “Move” rule is an Outlook (Client) rule, and Outlook will not let you build a rule that combines both.  But it still works fine with 2.


    Thanks for including me in your “Reply All” or “CC” email. I like to read these emails once a week (usually Friday afternoons), but sometimes it can take even longer based on my schedule.

    If there is something “actionable” that needs my immediate attention, please copy that piece out and resend it back to me (directly). Otherwise, I will read your email when I get a chance.

    Have a great day!
    Joe Wichowski
    Traction Consulting Group

    The same thing can be done in Lotus Notes as well.  However, you will also need to make an Email Agent (since the Lotus Notes rule system does not have an “auto-reply” capability).  But it still works pretty much the same – 1 rule to “move” the email, and 1 agent to “reply” to the originator.

    So, with this rule setup within your company, the next time someone CC’s 20 people, they will in fact get 20 emails back – right now – saying “Thanks! But I won’t be reading this anytime soon”.  If it is truly important, it will be up to the sender to re-send the information if it truly needs to be acted on.  However, more than likely they will just address the new email to those who need to see it (the remaining 18 people will be spared).  AND, the benefit for you is – you didn’t even see the email.  Its waiting for you in your “FYI” folder – when YOU are ready to read it.

    Implement Social Tools

    The thing about Reply-All’s and CC’s is that those emails are the pieces of information in the company that could truly benefit from Social tools.  If you this in terms of Facebook; what does Facebook really do for you?  It keeps you updated on your friends; it lets you see what they are working on; it lets you know their discoveries; it lets you know their challenges.  But the biggest thing Facebook does for you is – it lets you do all of this on your own time, when you are ready for it.

    So twist that around, and apply that to the business world.  Reply-Alls and CC’d are an attempt by employees and co-workers to keep you updated; let you see what they’re working on (or did); let you know their findings and resolutions; let you know where they are stuck.  It’s essentially the same goals.  But when it comes to your Inbox, it does not give you the choice of reviewing it when you are ready.  Instead, it often hinders productivity.

    To resolve that, a tool like Chatter or Lotus Live can help migrate these conversations within a context that matters – a social engagement tool that keeps people well-informed, while preserving the Inbox for immediate and urgent things.

    A Note On Customer Etiquette

    Often, my customers will “reply-all” to me.  I don’t mind.  But I don’t “reply back” to them either.  I usually build 2 sets of “reply” rules – one to reply to my internal staff, and the other to simply move the CC or Reply-All email into a separate “Customer FYI” folder.  I usually quickly scan those headers once a day, to see if anything really demands my attention.

    Bottom line for me – Customers always come first, but work needs to get done.  I think by creating the proper set of rules within your email system, and engaging in a social tool, will put your company on the healthy path to better productivity.

    If you would like to discuss your productivity challenges, and get some insight into Social tools that may help your organization, please don’t hesitate to give me a call.

  • Joe Wichowski 9:12 am on January 19, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Microsoft Exchange,   

    Updates on Lotus Notes & Domino (Lotuspehere 2012) 

    Some interesting news from Lotusphere 2012:

    IBM has announced a couple interesting items at this week’s Lotusphere – namely, the new “Social” edition of the Lotus Notes client, as well as extended email capabilities within their IBM Connections product (their Social Business tool).

    I’ve summarized some of the highlights below – if you would like some additional information on them, please don’t hesitate to shoot us a call.

    IBM Connections 3.0

    Social in the business setting is an interesting proposition. Most notably, it can help larger corporations engage disparate resource teams, and help them better mine innovation that already may already exist within another business unit.

    IBM’s version of Social is pretty much the same as Facebook – users can make profiles of themselves, tell colleagues “what” they are working on, share files and start discussion threads with specific groups, and so on. However, one thing that sets Social Business apart from Facebook is in the “Activities” department.

    IBM Connections allow you to create centralized activities, and “invite” other users to participate in the task in a Social way. So if you envision the “email overload” that most companies face, this might just be the solution – If your users can take an incoming email, and turn it into a larger “work effort” through Activities, you can essentially eliminate all of the spreadsheets and “FYI” emails that cripple today’s Inbox’s.

    What makes this more compelling is that before you were required to have Lotus Notes email in order to “move” an email into IBM Connections. Otherwise, users were required to “copy and paste” the email information inside the Activity. Now, with their direct “Inbox app”, IBM Connections can link directly to the Inbox of Microsoft Exchange as well as Lotus Notes & Domino. So just about any company can now benefit from the Workspaces and Activities apps within IBM Connections.

    IBM Lotus Notes 8.5.4 – Social Edition

    The new Lotus Notes release, called “Social Edition”, has a new feature set called “Embedded Experiences”.  This capability should let developers make applications that can “live” inside a Lotus Notes email message.  For example – if a customer emails in an order into your Customer Service Inbox, there can be an embedded “What would you like to do?” type application directly inside the email.  The embedded application could prompt the user what to do – automatically initiate the order inside ERP, start a new collaborative Activity regarding the order, “snooze it” for later review, and so on.  These embedded applications can be dynamic to the content that it is “reading” – so you can make Smart Email by comparing the From of an email with your CRM system, to provide different actions and capabilities for Vendors and Customers alike.  Pretty powerful stuff.

    Lotus Notes Plug-In Lets You Run Standard (Legacy) Lotus Notes Applications Inside A Web Browser

    Also in 8.5.4 will be a Firefox plug-in to let you run Lotus Notes application directly inside the web browser (no conversion required).  This can help companies eliminate the Lotus Notes Client entirely, yet still utilize their old Lotus Notes applications unchanged.  From what they are saying, these will be standard Notes applications.  This poses some difficulty, as a lot of the development in Lotus Notes is now utilizing XPages and Composite Applications.  The plug-in will not work for these apps (which is why we believe the plug-in will not work for Lotus Notes email).  In addition, it will be a 100meg download – not huge with cable modems these days.  But the size is something to consider (to be fair, Java is about 125megs, and Adobe Reader is close to 70megs – so the idea of a “small plug-in” has been abandoned long ago).

    IBM XWork Server

    On a side note, IBM has a new, “slimmed down” license for IBM Lotus Domino.  If you have moved off of Lotus Notes email, but still have some applications running inside the Lotus Notes client, the IBM XWork Server allows you to reduce your cost.  The charge is $2,000 fixed-price yearly.  So if you have over 100 users, this would make sense.  Or, if you have an old Domino server that is not currently under maintenance, this is a good way to get back to current without having to repurchase full Lotus Notes client licenses.

  • Kurt Higley 12:18 pm on October 13, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Microsoft Exchange   

    Migration and Co-existence 

    When changing messaging platforms, email may not be the only moving part that needs attention. Custom and proprietary applications are usually part of the messaging environment. This is especially true if you are moving away from IBM Lotus Domino.

    Messaging is one of the core functions of Lotus Domino and is easily integrated into applications. After all, email in Lotus Domino is just another application. So odds are one or more applications have messaging functionality incorporated into the design.

    Some of this functionality makes it through to the “other side”. Database, View and Document links make the transition in tact more or less. The “links” get converted to urls with notes: as the protocol. When clicked, the Lotus Notes client is launched and the linked object is loaded(provided the client is installed).

    One piece of functionality that does not translate are embedded Lotus Notes buttons. These buttons can be either coded with the @formula language or LotusScript. The buttons are removed when the messages leave the Lotus Domino environment.

    My next post will take a look at solving the deleted button scenario.

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