27 thoughts on “Is Email good enough as a collaboration tool?”

  1. The revolution for me in communication and collaboration has been Google’s gmail. It look’s kind of awkward at first, but once you start using it as your #1 email service and relying on it that you realize it really is a step up from everything before. With chat discussions saved and searchable, conversations grouped (this stops you in box filling up with a new line for EVERY single email; you just have a new line for each new conversation. And once you trust the search rather than worryinging about archiving, tagging, deleting and folders or other ways to desparately organise your email ( always a losing battle, like trying to create and file a note of every thought or conversation you have in a day) then you can relax finally about it. Plus the killer app for me is fantastic, fast, completely synchronised mobile access via pocket IE; add to that calendar and map integration, great handling of attachments and images, including processing word and powerpoint files into text for mobile browsing, and I have pretty much found my utimate collaboration and communication platform, finally!

    This relates to my favorite stat of all time 🙂 – In a study from the early days of efficiency in paper offices they found that when something is filed incorrectly the first time, it takes not twice as long to retrieve and re-file, but fully 18 times as long, as someone first has to notice it’s wrong, then check with the original filer whether it is really wrong, then go back and find where it really should be etc etc. Once the action is removed from the ‘flow-context’ it becomes a much longer process. To me that’s why we can’t ‘manage’ our email, and one reason why Gmail works so well.

  2. I hate the idea of using multiple apps for email, note sotring, addresses, RSS etc. I prefer a one-stop suite to get all this into a single location.

    I currently use OPERA 9.01 and can honestly say its one of the BEST internet productivity suites out there. The mail folders, RSS, notes, bookmarks, widgets, panels, filters, address book and labels are ALL there in a neatly organised UI.

    Whem I’m surfing, RSS reading, emaling etc, I copy quick notes into the notes section by simply right clicking and “copying to note”. I can later choose to email the note itself or use it elsewhere.

    Labels are an added benefit…. i can label emails/notes with pre-defined titles like “important”, “todo”, “funny” etc.

    Overall….. an awesome suite for heavy duty net/email/rss work!

  3. Opera’s mail client has serious problems with IMAP and no HTML email sending, so it’s useless for business purposes.

  4. Email certainly isn’t good enough when dealing with some types of attachments that require a response or comment. This is especially true in the management of marketing materials, designs and packaging…You just can’t control what your recipients will see html? text? will the attachment get blocked by their server? Email is broken for this purpose. I actually helped to start a company/application around this problem. Mostly based on the frustrations designers have with collaborating and getting decision support using email. No one has the same experience with attachments and its hard to describe visual changes to a advertising piece. With people working remotely this is almost impossible especially with non designer or tech savvy executives.You get responses like “looks good”. These people don’t need much more than a few simple extra tools. Maybe someday email will evolve to a point where you can collaborate in real-time right in your email client.

  5. It depends on the email program. I’ve found it very easy to collaborate on personal projects using Gmail, because of the excellent search abilities, calendar, etc. Sadly, at my own job we use Lotus Notes, and anything sent to me is as good as lost after a few days of mail builds up.

  6. ummm no its not .. in my case i dont want to spend more time managing my own email to make it manageable .. so i use Basecamp with my partners, clients and freelancers.

    Its expensive compared to email but it really kicks alot of ass in regards to keeping people up to date and other assets and resources organized.


  7. Email is great for 1-1 communication but needs something like a cross-platform open standards based *personal* version of lotus notes to make it a collaboration tool. Group context is weak in email.

  8. I agree about centralizing the emails, To-Do’s and calendar. At home, I use Outlook with the Gettng Things Done (GTD) Add-In. At work, I am stuck with Netscape email or a web based version that is not integrated with other apps like calendar or task lists. Collaborative reviews in Acrobat become hampered by an old outdated email system client.

    I have been using Gmail more and more and just started using the GTDGmail FF plug-in. This makes GMail even easier to use as a way to organize using custom labels, filters, etc.. Worth checking out if you GMail and are a disciple of David Allen’s GTD.


  9. The best I have seen recently is the Gtalk foot in Gmail: both are great, but the idea I really like is that you shoudl first who you want to contact, then have his availbilty details, and decide from there to talk, IM or mail. The guy who makes this work in a cell phone is a billionnaire — I imply that the cell phone can fill in the availabity details himself, from motion and geolocation.

  10. I do NOT have an inbox and Mail.app is my central work application. 🙂

    That will require a bit of explanation, I guess. I’m using a procmail rules to distribute all emails coming from one month in a dated folder on my imap account. It means that a folder hierarchy 2006/08, 2006/09, and so on.

    So everything is coming in one mailbox, the one of the month. They key of my way of working is SMART mailboxes. There are smart mailboxes for anykind of things I want to do and read, for mailing list, for people, etc. It means that an individual mail can be at different places at the same time. Because smart mailboxes are based on the data (metadata) and not about the location where the mail has been sorted out.

    Smart mailboxes have multiple criterias and you can make one with show me all mails of this person but only for the last two weeks, etc.

  11. Pingback: Michael's Thoughts
  12. Email is definitely here to stay, however, I believe we will spend less time on email and prioritize our time on more pressing matters accessible via other solutions.

    More specifically, in the context of teams, where email truly lacks, solutions such as our free flagship solution, Collanos Workplace, will allow users to shift their attention and time to higher priority issues making them significantly more productive and realize the benefits of a true team collaboration solution.

    Being a P2P (peer to peer) cross-platform (Mac, Linux, Windows) application, users will have a much better experience both by having offline and online access as well as the user experience they are so familiar with from other standard applications residing on their computers.

    The more a team player you are the less time you will be spending on email and realize the benefits of a solution built for teams.

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