Saturday, July 25, 2009

Productivity Tip: Using Your Email Program to Count

Why would you want to count using your email program? It's a good question ... to which there is an equally good answer. Read on.

This productivity tip will save you time and trouble if you need to collate and count responses from staff for any reason, especially if you work for an organisation with a lot of staff.


Case Study: I worked for a financial institution with 3,000 plus employees and had to identify how many employees needed compulsory training in certain legislation so that we could plan and resource the training.

I emailed everyone within the centre with a request that if they had not completed the training within the last three months, they were to reply to my email without changing the subject line. They were to reply by a certain deadline ... any queries were to be sent via a new email addressed to me and I explained why.

I created a folderin my email inbox called 'Legislation Training' and used Rules Wizard to divert any email received with the subject line: 'Legislation Training Requirement' into the folder. Every time a new email arrived it automatically went into the folder and my email client incremented and displayed the number of unopened emails in the folder in brackets at the end of the folder name. It looked like this: 'Legislation Training (125)'.

By the deadline all I had to do was look at the end of the Legislation Training folder to see how many people needed the training. No counting ... all done automatically by our productivity tool MS Outlook 2002.

As the fast talking salesman on the television said, 'And there's more!'

When I was asked for a list of the names of those who had responded, all I had to do was export the Legislation Training folder emails to MS Excel. Excel allows you to choose the fields you export. I chose the 'From' field and finished up with a list of names since all email addresses were in the format WILLIAMS Royston. Once in Excel it was a simple matter to sort them into alphabetical order.

Not only that, I could now email 20 people at a time and advise them when and where they had to attend this mandatory training.

This is an excellent way to deal with large numbers of people and, although MS Outlook and other email clients do have options for creating forms with yes/no buttons and so on in them, it is more complex than this option.

I hope this short article has been of interest to you and that it helps you improve your work performance.

Robin

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