We have a love-hate relationship with email. Many of us log into our devices each morning and check our email with our coffee. It's something we do not think about. It's just part of our daily routine.
But it's also time consuming. Some of it is important, but a lot of it is not. And we spend hours a day sorting through email that is not relevant to our work.
Some schools of thought believe email will go away with the advent of automated, cloud-hosted project management tools. Although email may be reduced with these automated tools, it is doubtful that is will completely go away.
Important project information is communicated through email every day. Email is simply data. It’s unstructured data, but it’s still data. And how project teams manage this data can have a significant impact on schedules, budgets, and risk.
Email is not only a form of communication; it is a form of documentation.
All information related to a project is essential, and email plays a role in documenting approvals, actions, change requests, and more. Email provides us with a timeline of who did what, who said what, and when.
But email is not always considered as part of the project record.
Important information is often trapped in an individual’s email inbox and is not accessible to the greater team. This poses a problem when someone is out of the office or leaves the project team. If the individual does not read the email, this information may not get forwarded to the right person at the right time.
Antiquated processes for email management.
The problem with emails doesn’t have to do with the email itself, but the process we use for managing it. Email is personal. An individual sends an email to another individual or a group of individuals. We assume that the originator of the email knows who should be receiving the email.
But this is not always the case. If we don’t know who exactly to send an email to, we sometimes overcompensate by sending it to a large distribution list of people. This drives many of us crazy when we get emails that do not pertain to us. It’s like taking a fire hose approach to email – aim at a bunch of people in hopes that it will hit the right target. When email is sent to the wrong person who does not forward it, the opposite problem occurs.
Email management impact to your project.
Not getting information to the right person at the right time can cause project complications. Miscommunication or delayed communication can negatively effect schedule and budget.
It may also impact business decisions. If email communication is not accessible or available, project teams may not have all the information they need to make better decisions.
Smart filing. Shifting the email filing paradigm.
Email associated with the project is not personal. It belongs to the project team. So why not file it to the project record?
Several problems may be solved if we shift the paradigm away from individuals saving emails in their inbox to individuals filing email to a centralized project repository.
When emails are filed to a central project file structure they are now available to all project team members who need them. Project team members are able to review and respond to project emails regardless of who the email was sent to.
It also solves the problem of lost or missing emails when someone leaves for vacation or leaves for another project. If individuals can easily file emails to the project, the information contained in email is not lost.
Emails stored with the other project-related files are now integrated with the project record. This enables team members to easily locate all information and communication. Team members now have a complete picture of the project which improves decision making. It also reduces risk by enabling teams to have a full audit trail of all project communication.
Establish a new routine where filing email to the project becomes a habit.
Getting people to change the way they work is difficult. Breaking old habits is even more difficult unless the new way of doing things is easy.
Establishing new routines for filing email to the project can be as easy as one click in Microsoft Outlook. Individuals do not have to do anything special or learn any new tools.
It gets even better. Smart filing technology suggests to the user which project to file the email to and automatically files email threads to the correct project.
Simple changes can go a long way.
Whether your team is working from their office desktop or out in the field with their mobile device, they can easily file emails to the project. There’s no excuse!
Project teams who have shifted the email paradigm have recognized the benefits immediately. Finding information buried in emails becomes easier with search capability. Sorting through hundreds of irrelevant project emails becomes a thing of the past. And people who need information communicated through email now have it.
Click here for more information on Newforma’s Email Management.