Executive / Assistant – email becomes workflow

I read an interesting paper produced by IBM today whilst travelling to London (link). The paper focused on email as a shared mail resource both from generic mailboxes “sales@company.com” down to the level of a personal assistant and executive sharing the executives mail database. What struck me from the report is the fact that these users really need a different flavour of the generic email template to suit their distinct needs. What is obvious from the report is no-one from the IT organisations featured, and I’m guilty here too, have considered the implication of how multiple users work with a single email database. In terms of the Executive/Assistant relationship the following simple features would appear to be key:

  • Who has read the email
  • Does the assistant need to take any specific action
  • Has the assistant annotated or summarised the email
  • Has the assistant provided further information
  • Does the email (and likely other relavent information) require printing
  • What emails need to go into “tickle” folders for the next month

In most cases the Executive/Assistant have devised their own workflow environment creating specific folders for specific actions. There should be a better way for them to do this. In terms of Notes and Domino all this would be easily acheivable using the designer, in terms of Outlook I assume a plugin or other feature (public folder applcation etc.) could be implemented.

Having read this report and given it some thought I think it would do most of us some good to recognise the unique relationship between Assistants and Executives, talk to them, find out what could be done to improve their use of the email infrastructure. My ideas, based on the review would be:

  • A subform to allow the assistant to add comments, hyperlinks, summaries etc
  • Modification to the inbox and other folders to show who has read the email with color coding. For example – green circle = PA has read it, no action required. blue circle = pa has read it, executive action required. purple circle = executive has
  • read it no action required. orange circle = executive has read it action required
  • The ability to add actions to the email without upseting the body of the email

So much design talent out there perhaps from a Notes Domino perspective this could be one for openntf.org


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s