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  1. #1
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    Storing e-mails alongside other files

    My company is looking at better ways to store files relating to contracts it undertakes.

    To that end, we are going to introduce a new, standard template of folders which we will use for each new contract, to store all the files (be they documents, spreadsheets, CAD drawings, photos, programmes etc) in appropriate standard folders, relating to that contract.

    So far, so good!

    We then realised that whilst this approach works fine for standard files, more and more information relating to contracts actually takes the form of emails, as opposed to files, and on big jobs we can end up with a list of sometimes hundreds of emails. Currently we move (not copy) such emails into an Outlook folder specific to that contract, but the real holy grail would be to have some digital storage system for all contract related files (be they documents, spreadsheets, emails, or whatever) all stored in the same folder template.

    We could, I imagine, just replicate the normal 'files' template in Outlook, but I was wondering if there is a system at all which effectively combines the two?

    I'm sure what I am looking for must exist, as the issue will be relevant to most companies - not just mine!!

    Thanks in anticipation.

    Neil

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  3. #2
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    Need to know a little more about your environment.

    Are you really wed to a file system solution? Have you considered Office 365?

    Do you have legal issues for document retention to be concerned with?

    Do you have Exchange Server? If so, what version? Hosted or on-site?

    Do you have SharePoint? If so, what version & SKU? Hosted or on-site?

    Joe

  4. #3
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    Hi Joe - thanks for your reply.

    I can check this information with our (External) IT Manager, who is on site tomorrow. In the meantime, I'll give you the answers I know:-

    1 - Don't know what the alternative to a file system solution is. We have Office 2010 installed on site, running over a network with SBS as the network operating system. (SBS 2008 on our main server). I'm not sure if our internet connectivity is fast enough, or robust enough to consider Office 365 (and I'm not certain what benefits this would give us either?).

    2 - We are certainly obligated to keep company records for a certain number of years.

    3 - We do have Exchange installed on site (as part of SBS). It appears to be Exchange 2007 on the main server.

    4 - Don't think we have Sharepoint (we would only have it if it came as part of SBS).

    Thanks

    Neil

  5. #4
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    The alternative to a file system solution could be a SharePoint based repository. You'd store all the documents in SharePoint. You can email enable the SharePoint repository so that it can automatically receive a copy of all emails using Exchange based rules.

    Office 365 can have several benefits. You don't have to host Exchange or SharePoint. Your company is no longer responsible for the maintenance of those servers and software, Microsoft is. You can access email and SharePoint from anywhere. If you are considering upgrading to SBS 2011 there is an SKU that ties into Office 365. in typical Microsoft fashion, there are several different subscription levels for Office 365 each of which add capability and functionality. One of the subscription levels include the Office desktop programs so that as long as you maintain the subscription you are entitled to any new version of Office. the pricing for Office 365 can be very attractive if your company regularly updates Exchange and Office.

    SharePoint Foundation is a free addon that can be installed on Windows Server 2008 SP2. See download SharePoint Foundation 2010 and Technet - Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010 for more information. NOTE: SharePoint foundation is kind of a "starter" edition. There is much more information at the Microsoft SharePoint site.

    Joe

  6. #5
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    Thank you Joe - that is very interesting.

    I will discuss this with my IT man tomorrow...

    Cheers

    Neil

  7. #6
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    Don't forget you can just drag and drop any email from Outlook into the appropriate Explorer folder for the contract. I don't know if that's quite what you're looking for, and AFAIK it can't be automated, but it would certainly allow you to keep the emails with the other files in the same folder.

  8. #7
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    You could also convert the email to a PDF and store it with the regular files.

  9. #8
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    What I have found very useful is 'Evernote'. I'm doing just what you are wanting to do... storing email and documents (pdf, word, etc) along with graphics, audio clips and photos as necessary. It syncs between my Android phone, laptop and tablet in a matter of seconds -- but it is available across different platforms. One person in my office I know uses Apple products and we are able to exchange information quite easily.

    The wonder of it all (for me) is how simple it is.

    Allen

  10. #9
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    Regarding the idea of dragging Outlook items into Explorer windows...We used to do this a lot, but there are drawbacks. The filename is generated from the email's subject line and the last modified date is the date you do the drag and drop, not the received date. So if you drag a set of replies to the same email (for example), they end up in Explorer only distinguished by a number that Windows Explorer appends to the filename (if you drag them all at once, that is - if you drag another reply in later, you get the standard Explorer "do you want to replace the existing file" dialog, which is no use at all). So you've lost all the things that might help you navigate if you were still in Outlook - date order, sent by, etc... We tried to address this by making people stick the email's date into the subject line before dragging into Explorer, but that's not ideal. So this is probably OK if you're simply required to archive your emails for legal reasons or whatever, but not if you're likely to want to work with them in the future.

  11. #10
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    We use www.postini.com
    To archive email, from there it can exported in a couple of formats then added to the project folder for convenience.
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  12. #11
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    With regard to Evernote, I have it installed on my Galaxy Nexus but cannot get it to install on my W7 laptop. I keep getting the following: "(.\Bootstrapper.cpp:886) 0x643:Fatal error during installation" I have googled this error and found that it appears to be a common error, but didn't find a solution and Evernote.com is of no help at all. Any idea on how I can get this to install??
    Glen R. Fotre, CCIM Life Member
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  13. #12
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    A quick look through Evernote's forum doesn't show any compatibility issues between it and W7.
    Try re-downloading the most current update for desktops from Evernote's site. If you download the wrong version (the tablet version will probably not work on your laptop, for instance) you will have definite problems.

  14. #13
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    The law may vary by jurisdiction and the non-compulsory stuff will vary by provider, but your company's ISP may have its own archive of your email. You might ask about that.

  15. #14
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    It's exactly what our eFiler toolbar is for!

    Hi,

    Our eFiler toolbar for Outlook is designed to solve exactly this problem.

    With eFiler you can file all of your emails into file system folders and, thanks to its powerful and fast search tool, you can find and use those emails as if they were still in Outlook. So you and your colleagues can file into dedicated email folders in your project folder template and read them as if you were accessing a shared mailbox.

    With predictive filing location selection, drag and drop filing and filing from Android, Gmail, Phone and iPad via IMAP we have designed eFiler to save time and money as well as saving emails.
    Last edited by JoeP517; 2013-01-22 at 18:34. Reason: remove self-link

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