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Bulging Inboxes Drive New Email Solutions

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                   SoHo NEWS & TIPS
Helping You Make the Most of Your Small Office/Home Office
        SoHoTIPS.com
------------------------------------------------------------

Greetings,

As complaints about email mount, some small companies look 
for new ways to communicate. Read about how some business 
professionals have progressed from email to new solutions 
that help them more effectively communicate.

Best,
Mandi

Be sure to visit the SoHo News and Tips blog!
SoHo News & Tips Blog

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NEWS & TIDBITS

- GM Europe employees walk off the job after hear-
ing that 1,000 factory jobs will be cut...

- Rumor has it POP Multimedia in Seattle is about 
to announce a serious round of layoffs...

- Honda Motor Co. to build a $400 million, 1,500-
worker plant in the Midwest as part of a $1.18 
billion global expansion... 

- The recording industry sued XM Satellite Radio 
Holdings Inc., alleging its Inno device that can 
store music infringes on copyrights... 

- XSTRATA launched an $18 billion takeover bid for 
diversified Canadian miner Falconbridge...

- Jim Kelly is stepping down as the managing 
editor of Time magazine and will take a senior 
editorial position at parent company Time Inc...

- United Auto Workers members overwhelmingly 
authorized their leaders to strike Delphi Corp. as 
the bankrupt auto-parts maker seeks to void its 
labor contracts and cut pay by more than half...

- UPS will increase the capacity of its Worldport 
hub at Louisville International Airport by 60 
percent in an expansion expected to cost more than 
$1 billion and employ more than 5,000...

- Vitesse Semiconductor Corp. said it had fired 
several top executives and expanded a probe into 
its accounting practices...


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Bulging Inboxes Drive New Email Solutions 
By CHRIS REITER From Dow Jones Newswires 

Steve Gongaware, director of business development 
at Management Science Associates Inc., knew some-
thing needed to change last summer when his efforts 
to email a proposal to a prospective client were 
going nowhere.

After several days and no response, he phoned the 
prospect and discovered that his first email never 
arrived. Subsequent messages showed up, but spam, 
antivirus and other filters corrupted the all-
important attachment.

"I kept striking out, and it was getting kind of 
embarrassing," says Mr. Gongaware. "It seems like 
email gets less and less effective for communicat-
ing."

As almost anyone with an inbox can appreciate, 
email can be both a godsend and a nightmare for 
businesses. Spam clogs email systems, and hackers 
use email to deliver software programs that seek 
to disable computer systems or steal data. Filters 
designed to combat these problems can interfere 
with legitimate communications. Internally, a 
flood of email, both business-related and personal, 
hurts productivity by slowing everyone down. 
Messages are often misdirected, and it can be 
difficult to keep the information flow organized.

These problems can be particularly difficult for 
small businesses, which don't have the information-
technology departments to handle them and can ill 
afford productivity lapses because of their small 
staffs. So small businesses are looking at a 
variety of software tools that help them manage 
their email or offer alternative communication 
systems.

A Web Solution

Mr. Gongaware of MSA, an information-technology 
services company based in Pittsburgh, ultimately 
gave up on email in his effort to send his 
proposal to the prospective client. Instead, he 
used software created by another Pittsburgh 
company, a start-up called SalesGene Corp., to 
post the proposal on a Web site dedicated to the 
project. He then sent the prospect a login name 
and password for the site by email.

Soon after that, Mr. Gongaware got an email notify-
ing him that the prospect had accessed the site, 
which helped him time his follow-up phone call. 
"Since I knew he was looking at it, I was able to 
call him at the right time," Mr. Gongaware says.

The SalesGene product, called Landslide, allows 
companies to set up Web sites that can store 
documents, messages and other materials relevant 
to a specific sale. It gives salespeople an alter-
native to sending emails with bulky attachments, 
and helps manage the flow of information by 
preventing multiple versions of documents from 
floating around in email systems.

Mr. Gongaware says he was so pleased with his 
initial experience with Landslide, and so frustra-
ted with the declining reliability of email, that 
MSA is in the process of rolling out the software 
across the company, which employs about 900 people.

Similar document-sharing services are available 
from providers including WebEx Communications 
Corp. of San Jose, Calif., and Microsoft Corp., 
Redmond, Wash.

John Fisher, controller at Forgital USA Inc., had 
a different email problem -- an internal one. 
"There were too many people fooling around," using 
email for personal communications, he says. That 
made them less productive, a problem that's 
magnified in a company the size of Forgital, which 
has only 50 employees.

And there was a more tangible impact at Forgital 
of the loose use of email and the Internet. Mr. 
Fisher says the company was forced to destroy two 
computers a few years ago because they had become 
so infected by viruses that "we couldn't get them 
cleaned up." Such expenses are difficult to absorb 
for small businesses in a tightly contested market.

So Mr. Fisher clamped down, tuning out employees' 
complaints that they were being unfairly punished 
for their colleagues' sloppy email and Internet 
habits.

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Forgital, a Houston-based subsidiary of Italian 
machine-parts maker Forgital Italy SpA, now blocks 
all outgoing and incoming email traffic except 
messages to or from approved addresses. It does so 
with software supplied by security-software firm 
Burstek of Bonita Springs, Fla.

No More Fooling Around

This follows an effort to curtail personal Web use 
by allowing the company's employees to access only 
Internet sites that Forgital determined are 
necessary for business. These approved sites don't 
include Web mail services such as Hotmail or Gmail,
which means Forgital's employees can send personal 
emails only on personal time.

This has raised productivity, because, Mr. Fisher 
says, "people aren't fooling around anymore."

Another concern that some companies have about 
email is its inefficiency -- too many messages 
going to the wrong people, and too many not making 
it to the right people. These companies may not 
need the kind of restrictive security software 
Forgital uses, but may benefit from so-called work-
flow software.

Neil Montgomery, president and chief executive of 
Davis Controls Ltd., realized recently that the 
disorganized nature of the company's internal email 
was hurting productivity. "Email orphaned bits of 
information," he says, describing the tendency of 
many email messages not to reach everyone they 
should. "We needed to have all the information in 
one place" to ensure that all the appropriate 
people had access to it."

Eliminating Guesswork

So the Oakville, Ontario, engineering firm adopted 
e-Synergy workflow software from Exact Software, 
an Andover, Mass., unit of Dutch company Exact 
Holding NV. The software helps route internal 
information such as account notes and project up-
dates, as well as relaying requests such as 
scheduling vacations and submitting purchase 
orders. By automatically sending messages to the 
appropriate person and tracking the response, 
the software helps take the guesswork out of such 
day-to-day tasks. And that means fewer misdirected 
messages or mass mailings that might reach the 
right person but also clog the inboxes of others.

Davis employees now use email only to communicate 
with the outside world. The e-Synergy software 
still allows them to communicate with each other 
individually, and companywide personal missives 
like baby pictures or birthday wishes are posted 
to a bulletin board that everyone can see.

"We understand and accept the fact that people 
still need to communicate with each other social-
ly," Mr. Montgomery explains. "We don't police 
this, as we don't want to reinforce anyone's idea 
that Big Brother might be watching."

Altman Lighting Co., another user of Exact's e-
Synergy, used to have problems with misdirected 
mass mailings clogging inboxes.

"We spent a lot of time reading emails that didn't 
pertain to us," says Roger Pujol, assistant general 
manager of the Yonkers, N.Y., maker of theatrical 
lighting. The lack of clear communication processes 
created inefficiencies and a lack of oversight. 
"Things would get done three or four times or not 
at all," says Mr. Pujol.

Like Davis Controls, Altman Lighting no longer 
uses email for internal communications. E-Synergy 
saves employees about an hour a day that otherwise 
would have been spent culling irrelevant emails, 
Mr. Pujol says.

Davis's Mr. Montgomery is even more upbeat about 
the impact on his company. He says the 50-person 
engineering firm is able to process three to four 
times more work than before with the same amount 
of staff. The better control of information and 
improved productivity is a matter of survival for 
companies the size of Davis, he says.

"Customers are becoming more and more impatient," 
says Mr. Montgomery. "I can't imagine trying to 
manage a business competitively without these 
kinds of tools."

DID YOU KNOW?

If you do not handle all financial transfers between you 
and the corporation as you do those with either a standard
investor or employee, then you might place your corporation
status and protections in jeopardy. You would document a 
loan made to or received from a third party, and you must do
the same between you and the corporation.

So what did you think about this issue? Drop me a line and let 
me know at mailto:mandi@gophercentral.com 

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