Jamie already had five tasks to complete before noon today, but during the morning's team huddle Jamie is nonchalantly asked to select an email management solution. This isn’t her thing and it doesn’t speak to her interests, skillset, or priorities. Yet email management is now on her list.
If you find yourself in Jamie’s shoes, there’s no need to start from scratch. Here’s how you, Jamie, and anyone else can approach this unwanted task that will ultimately benefit everyone in the organization… including you.
Let’s start at the very beginning:
Email management solutions help individuals and organizations optimize their organization, retention, and sharing of email. With a proactive approach to email management, these processes and tools use metadata, categorization, and access control to turn email into a more useful resource, as email servers themselves are poor settings for proper storage, classification, search, and collaboration. They also play a key role in facilitating records management for compliance and legal disclosure purposes.
A separate category of solutions for optimizing outbound email marketing activity sometimes gets dubbed “email management,” but we’re excluding those tools as they serve an entirely different purpose.
Software solutions are infamous for listing every single feature in an attempt to check all possible boxes for potential customers. While thorough, these laundry lists of capabilities get overwhelming, especially when you’re not sure which features really matter for your business.
Don’t fall down the rabbit hole.
To help cut through the clutter, these are the key elements you should look for:
Inboxes treat all emails equally by default, but this organizational structure makes little sense for actually finding things later. It would be like putting your laundry away in the order it came out of the dryer rather than sorting them into the appropriate dresser drawers. Unlike appliances, however, email management tools can do a lot of the heavy lifting in this domain.
Email management solutions should support folder creation, and the ability to add metadata, flags, and tags to emails. An additional capability to look for is full drag-and-drop support, as this user-friendly feature boosts usage and cuts down the learning curve.
Searching for a particular email can be extremely frustrating, especially when you’re using common terms in your query. Finding an email solution with more robust search capabilities can be a massive time saver, particularly when you’re in a hurry to find something specific.
Sorting and filtering capabilities—not to mention the ability to search by metadata—add real benefits for the entire user base, rapidly winnowing down the pool of emails to the few relevant ones needed at that moment. Ideally, the solution supports searching across OneDrive, Teams, and SharePoint with a consolidated view of those results that includes additional filtering options. Again the idea is to make the search simple, quick, and easy.
An email management solution only makes sense if it integrates with the email platform your business already uses. Most support the Microsoft 365 suite given its dominant market position, but some companies have eschewed Microsoft for Gmail and other platforms.
Even when a solution claims Microsoft 365 support, it’s worth digging deeper for additional clarity. Do they support Outlook, Teams, and SharePoint? Do they support the new One Outlook incarnation of the platform, which shifted away from desktop clients to a progressive web application? (Spoiler alert: our solution does!)
Employees will always have to deal with some emails manually on a one-off basis, but chances are certain types of emails should always be routed to the same places and teams. Automating these cases creates huge time savings, ensuring 100% compliance while eliminating the human element from the equation.
Outlook already has a powerful rules engine that can sort specific emails into folders. The best email management solutions take it from there, either copying or moving those emails into the appropriate Teams, SharePoint, or OneDrive location, enabling employees to “set it and forget it” for those reoccurring use cases.
Many organizations employ collaborative inboxes for handling support requests, sales inquiries, and other shared functions. If your business relies on these, your email management solution needs to as well. These types of inboxes often really benefit from automation and the ability to share emails within the context of other collaboration tools.
No matter how many bells and whistles a given solution has, your company likely prioritizes the bottom line over nice-to-have perks. Therefore no analysis of options is complete without examining the price tag.
These solutions are typically priced per user for SMB engagements, making it inexpensive to start small with a subset of the total workforce. Some may instead base pricing on usage/message/data volumes, however, or charge additional setup of integration fees, representing a larger upfront expense. Solutions may also use tiered pricing, limiting some functionality or volume at lower price points.
Get a solid headcount number before determining what fits into your budget—or what your budget must be to deploy a solution at scale—along with how growth plans might impact the total ongoing financial commitment.
Volume discounts or lower pricing based on lengthier contractual commitments may exist. Inquire whether your business qualifies. Contact sales to ask for that flexibility when negotiating a bulk discount.
Now that you know what to look for, we recommend giving harmon.ie’s Microsoft 365 Suite a free test drive. It’s got the core functionality organizations need to transform their approach to email management and has been adopted by global brands, governments, energy industry players, and thousands of other enterprise and SMB customers.