‘Social mapping’ of email shows how the team works

Email filing add-on to Outlook provides super-fast search capabilities and sounds early alarm bells when communications are at risk of failing the business

Email management software can now deliver an extra layer of information with a social mapping feature that shows at a glance, the volume of communication between named individuals, and rings early alarm bells if team communication and effectiveness is at risk of failure.Alec Milton

Oasys Software, Arup’s software developers, have added the new feature to Mail Manager, an  Outlook Plug-in that enables seamless central filing of email and attachments with super-fast search capabilities. All email traffic relating to a project or team is kept in shared filing locations in standard, easily-retrievable Outlook .msg format.  With over a third of all employees  spending up to two hours a day searching for emails (according to Oasys Software research), Mail Manager  quickly returns value. At the same time it enables businesses to manage the risks implicit in our increasing dependence on email correspondence, and it is now the choice of thousands of professional firms across the globe.

The enhanced search that enables the new social mapping feature (see diagram) is now a standard feature of   Mail Manager (5.4). It shows the names and email addresses of selected contacts in boxes, with the size of the boxes indicating the number of emails sent to and from that contact. As you click on each contact’s box, the image is rendered to show their email cloud.

The social map will be accurate because people do actually use Mail Manager as it is so quick and easy. It has been developed as a simple Outlook plug-in that automatically prompts users to file email, from a desktop,  mobile or tablet device. It also learns from user behaviour and suggests filing locations, so that filing typically involves no more than one extra click or touch. What his means, of course, is that there is no user resistance to actually using this invaluable management tool. Installation is remarkably simple and staff can be up and running within minutes.

Users have come to rely on the filing, sharing and search features of Mail Manager. Now, with the Social Mapping feature they can see, at a glance, for instance:

  • Communication gaps within a team.
  • The business or that projects are exposed because it is wholly reliant on one person  (or even the wrong person)  to  maintain key relationships.
  • Resources are not being used as planned, such as where all support requests are diverted through a third party.
  • An unexpectedly-high volume of email between parties could indicate an issue that needs to be escalated to a more senior level or to have additional input.
  • Where email traffic between parties is all one way and not being responded to, or someone is ignoring, or misunderstanding their responsibility and role within a team.

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Alec Milton, Managing Director of Oasys Software said:  “The advantages of using IT to bring together the best skills and talents and optimise teams is lost if the teams do not communicate effectively. Our social mapping concept gives managers the information they need to manage these risks.”

Milton goes on to point out that Mail Manager is not designed as a Big Brother tool or to detect crime or fraud, as it relies on users willingly to file and share access to other communications. However, it can help to reveal errors and omissions in processes, and will certainly help to facilitate past business reviews.

Realising the value of email
IT departments are letting businesses down, and potentially costing them £/$ millions because they have not grasped the value of the information that is held in email traffic – both the content and the paths it takes.  With “mailbox full” messages still commonplace, it seems that all too often the focus remains on limiting individuals’ use, rather than managing and facilitating it, which is clearly a false economy, according to Alec Milton. The simple fact is that we all use and rely on email more and more, and send sizeable attachments routinely. IT managers must focus on the value, not the volume of the traffic.

In a survey of 1,200 employees across a variety of companies and disciplines undertaken by Oasys Software, more than a third of employees say they spend up to two hours or more every day searching for email; and 88% admit to having deleted important emails because their inbox was full. With email increasingly the sole means of communication, both internally, with customers, and within project teams who may be working in different offices and countries, it is vital that all relevant people have access to this information.  Oasys Mail Manager provides the solution.

“IT departments simply aren’t up to speed with the way email is used at the sharp end,” said Alec Milton, Managing Director of Oasys Software. “We hear all about how firms want to restrict the amount of time employees spend on personal email during working hours, but very little about how much time their staffs waste in looking for bona fide work-related email during the day.”

Perhaps even more worrying for bosses is  that 96% of respondents  believe their companies face some level of legal risk associated with poor email management, with 1 in 5 saying their company faces “high risk”. Indeed, there have already been high profile cases in the US where firms were fined as much as $700,000 for not being able to produce specific emails under very tight timeframes imposed by the courts.

“With Mail Manager, they could have just opened a search, typed in a word or phrase and almost instantly found what they wanted,” says Alec Milton.

According to a report by The Radicati Group, a technology market research firm, the number of email users is estimated to rise to 1.9 billion by 2013. Now seems like the right time for businesses to implement effective solutions to handle these constantly increasing volumes and capture the value of the information that their content and traffic flow holds.

Oasys Limited is part of the Arup Group and it develops complex structural and geotechnical engineering software that is used to design anything from a wide-span bridge to the Olympic velodrome. However, one of its toughest assignments has been to solve the email challenge for their colleagues in Arup offices around the world.  So neat is the answer they came up with, Mail Manager, is now their best selling product. With a user base of thousands of companies it is set to become the email management solution of choice for businesses of all types.

TRY OASYS MAIL MANAGER FREE FOR 30 DAYS: Mail Manager is available for download from the Oasys web site at: http://www.oasys-software.com/mailmanager