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Summary:

n most large organizations, email is the communication tool of choice. It provides a virtual “paper trail,” doesn’t require the recipient to pick up the phone and is accessible in most places. For some organizations, though, that reliance on email can be problematic.

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In most large organizations, email is the communication tool of choice. It provides a virtual “paper trail,” doesn’t require the recipient to pick up the phone and is accessible in most places. For some organizations, though, that reliance on email can be problematic. If your organization has a project management tool in place that allows stakeholders and team members to communicate and stay up-to-date on what’s happening with the project, having some communications made via that project management tool and some via email has the potential to be an issue.

Keeping Your Project in One Place

Whenever project communications happen outside of the tool you use for project management, there’s a risk that decisions and changes won’t get recorded and the team won’t act on them. It’s a danger of in-person meetings, as well. You may say that you’ll remember to update your project management tool with the information contained in the email, but eliminating potential problems seems like a better choice than trying to keep up with them.

There’s a temptation to justify moving from the project management tools you rely on to email with the idea that there are some decisions that the entire organization shouldn’t be party to. There is some truth to that, but most project management tools have a direct messaging capability built-in.

Email’s Value

There are reasons, though, why many companies rely so heavily on email. If you need information quickly, your team may be more likely to check their email rather than your project management tool. And if you’re working with people outside of your organization, there’s a certain level of hassle associated with getting them set up on your project management tool; it may not be worth the effort, while you can generally expect a contact to have an email account.

Integrating Email and PM Tools

At the end of the day, it seems preferable to have all communication related to a given project in one place. It’s important to realize that email isn’t going away any time soon, though — especially for project management,. That makes it necessary to make sure that, however you handle your projects, there’s a plan in place for making sure that email can be integrated into your system. Although it’s not ideal, even copying and pasting emails into your PM system may help.

How does your team handle project communications?

Image courtesy Flickr user Bruno Girin

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  1. When we developed 5pm project management tool (http://www.5pmweb.com) we were very aware of the power of email communication. So we added the integration with emails right from the start.

    Users can generate email notifications on any event, like creation of a task, or adding a file (the file will be also attached to the email notifications). But, besides that, when a team member gets an email notifications he/she can simply hit REPLY and answer that email – the message will be added right back into 5pm without the need to login into it. This makes simple feedback much more straightforward.

    Example: you post a logo to 5pm and choose to notify the team about it. They get the email and answer to it (“looks good”, “I would try it in red”, etc.) – now all their answers are also logged in 5pm.

    Besides that we support daily deadline reminders emails and other features.

    We found that some companies incorporate heavily the email in their communication. Some of our clients go hardcore and even create tasks directly from email and even report progress on tasks – all that is possible with 5pm.

    Check more on our website: http://www.5pmweb.com/feature_email_integration.php.

    Email is not going anywhere. So instead of replacing it, products should try to incorporate it in the workflow.

    – 5pm Team (www.5pmweb.com)

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