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Why email should not be used for work management

Posted by Greg Warner on October 05, 2016

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Email is ubiquitous and important, but let’s not depend on it for tasks it wasn’t designed for.

Email is an essential business communication tool and is used widely as a method for managing tasks and projects. The problem many organizations face with such a heavy dependence on email for business-critical workflow is email doesn’t support structured methods for tracking work packages and broader project outcomes.

In this blog, we’ll review the challenges over use of email places on staff and how modern applications offer many more features for workflow management and the business benefits.

  • Task assignment. When five people are copied on an email, who is responsible for what? What is the follow-up procedure?  Those fundamental problems with email are resolved by a job ticketing and task assignment system. No one can “hide” from an assignment or pretend they didn’t receive it as they can with email.
  • Tracking and accounting. Email has no accountability or tracking built in which leads to poorly-defined outcomes as responsibilities are easily shifted amongst team members. With a structured application events are time-stamped and assigned to people and all changes are tracked.
  • Attachments and documentation. We’ve all been through email trails trying to find the latest version of a file attachment. Modern tools are designed to handle document versioning and teams are notified of updates. Supporting documentation and collaboration with wikis are also benefits of a dedicated application which email doesn’t provide.
  • Discovery. Ever had to spend hours searching through files and emails trying to find that procedure you need? Most of us have and a modern workflow system helps immensely with finding the right information you need. Relying too much on email also presents the problem of valuable information being “archived” after a set period making discovery even more difficult.
  • App integration. While it’s possible to integrate email with other apps and online services (for example, a social feed), it was not designed for this and it usually involves custom integration. Modern work management applications have many add-ons which enhance the standard product features. For example, the Atlassian Marketplace now has more than 2,000 add-ons for its suite of products.   
  • Process improvement. With business information located in a central, structured application team members can better collaborate and improve how the business operates. Better understanding of processes unlocks hidden knowledge also leads to less frustration among staff.

Your workflow can still play nice with email

Every now and then some pundit – or startup software company – will declare the death of email. We can confidently say that’s not about to happen anytime soon. Saying email is no longer relevant is like saying postal mail or telephone numbers are no longer relevant. Sure there are different technologies available to replace them, but they are standards-based and well understood by anyone who has used them. We are far better off trying to work with email than trying to replace it.

The good news is you don’t need to attempt to “replace email” with another technology in order to improve your workflow. Modern applications like Jira Service Desk integrate well with email so you can keep track of your tasks right from your inbox.

Getting started is easy

At ServiceRocket we specialise in bridging the gap between a software product and customer adoption and, ultimately, a successful outcome. If you believe your organization’s dependence on email is too hard to change, contact us to discover how easy it can be.

Topics: collaboration, Work Management Tools, Work Management Software, Email, Jira Service Desk

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