It has been more than seven years since I first got interested in using SharePoint to improve the way emails were managed in my organization. I recall being surprised to find that the Out-Of-the-Box integration of Outlook and SharePoint did not allow me to drag and drop to save emails to SharePoint. This lack of drag and drop saving was a real blockage to the adoption of SharePoint as an email management platform. To quote one of my users: “I can keep important emails by dragging them from my Inbox or Sent Items to a private or public folder in Outlook, and if you want me to store those emails in SharePoint it needs to be just as easy to use.”
Today there are numerous add-ons available on the market that plug this gap. However in my experience when you install one of these products and show your users their reaction is interesting. Once they see that their fundamental need to be able to drag and drop has been met, they reveal a whole range of other requirements – many other aspects of functionality and usability that they need to have if they are going to be fully effective in using SharePoint for email management.
In mathematical terms, the ability to drag and drop to save emails is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the success of a SharePoint email management project!
In addition to drag and drop saving, business users want the following:
- No prompting for metadata when I save an email.
- No duplicates – i.e. only one copy of an email in any one area of SharePoint – no matter how many recipients attempt to save that email.
- Easy to both move an email to SharePoint (i.e. delete it from my Inbox) and also to create a copy of an email in SharePoint. Emails that are already saved in SharePoint should be clearly marked in the Inbox.
- Efficient bulk saving of emails – ability to save a large number of emails to SharePoint in a single step, which happens in the background so that I continue working in Outlook as the save proceeds.
- Once I save an email to SharePoint (e.g. by dragging and dropping it), subsequent replies in the same discussion thread should be saved automatically, or with very little effort.
- Easy to save incoming attachments to SharePoint, including the ability to supply common metadata across multiple attachments, rather than have to supply metadata separately for each attachment.
- Saving an attachment should not fail when its file name contains characters that are illegal in SharePoint – ideally the original file name (including invalid characters) should be retained.
- Easy to retrieve a file from SharePoint and make it an attachment to a new outgoing email.
- Just as easy to insert links to files in SharePoint, rather than embed them as attachments.
- Search based on metadata and / or keywords for emails and other files stored in SharePoint – preferably without needing to leave Outlook to do the search.
- Easy to navigate around the SharePoint store to find a particular site / document library / document set or folder that I need to save to or retrieve from – even when that SharePoint environment contains a large number of site collections / sites / libraries / document sets / folders.
- Emails that are sent directly to a document library (by using the address created when that library is email-enabled) should be saved with the same format and naming and metadata treatment as emails that are saved by drag and drop.
MacroView Message is an add-on that has been proven to meet all these requirements. See this video of Best Available Email Management for Microsoft SharePoint.
MacroView Message is the subset of MacroView DMF that runs in Microsoft Outlook. MacroView DMF also adds customisations to Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, to Adobe Reader and Acrobat and to Windows itself so that you can create a complete document management solution on SharePoint.