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multiple e-mail systems October 2, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Observations.

I wasn’t quite sure where to place this one, so it’s going to end up in Observations.

Theoretically, e-mail is the best way to get in touch with someone and create a paper trail. It allows you to be as explicative as necessary without getting interrupted, and it keeps you from having to talk to people you don’t like. Every company requires e-mail these days, and with good reason.

As a regular computer user, you probably have at least two e-mail addresses — business and personal. You may have three — a junk-mail-only address. You may have four — a private e-mail address. You may have five — one for your freelance work. You may have six — legacy e-mails from the old days.

But all that’s personal. All that is stuff you are responsible for keeping track of. At work, you should only have to pay attention to one e-mail address — your.name@corporatespeak.com.

A lot of companies, however, have multiple e-mail systems. Some are legacy systems. Maybe there’s an old Unix server that requires Pine. Maybe there’s an internal BBS where info is posted and chats are held.

This is bad. Here’s why.

Let’s say you have four departments that have to talk to each other: web, content, marketing, and production. Web uses e-mail a lot because… well, because they’re into the web. Marketing will respond to e-mail when they can, but they’re all over the place and never get to their computers. Production’s computer systems aren’t compatible with e-mail so they only check it once a day. All of these are acceptable, because it’s still your.name@corporatespeak.com sending an e-mail to marketing.dude@corporatespeak.com.

Then there’s the content group. They’ve been working on a proprietary third-party system since the days when e-mail was just used to send chess moves across the country to your friends at other universities. They’ve had a way to send electronic messages, very simple, plain text.

They won’t stop using it.


So when you send a message, you have to send it in two places. If you don’t, someone’s bound to come up to you and say “why didn’t you tell me about x?” You’ll say “I sent an e-mail.” They’ll say “did you send it in CServer?” You’ll say “of course not; it’s an e-mail, and you have access to e-mail.” They’ll stomp off and you’ll stomp off. They’ll think you came across as superior because you use e-mail, and they spend their days working in CServer without opening Outlook. You’ll think they came across as moronic for not checking Outlook like everyone else in the entire building.

You’ll spend years trying to get at least the e-mail function of CServer turned off, but the moment it is, expect hue and cry, especially from the dinosaurs set in their ways. Eventually, Mail.CServer will be turned back on.

Get used to it. It’s the corporate way.

Yes, this is a problem at CorporateSpeak headquarters. It ticks off EVERYONE.



1. That Guy’s Tips for Corporate Success, #9 « corporatespeak - October 21, 2008

[…] discuss because of security rules. Every computer has an install of CServer* (as referenced in this post). The new solution requires both a minor upgrade to CServer and a few tweaks made to the computer […]

2. the brick wall « corporatespeak - April 13, 2009

[…] anything about the memo I sent afterward — a few people in Jim’s department only use CServer and don’t bother checking their POP3 e-mail so I guarantee they’ll never see it. Jim […]

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