E-mail management in SharePoint – why third party software is required

I have recently been working with a case management solution for a client. One of the most important requirements was that the e-mail conversations related to the case needed to be stored in a structured way that allows other people in the organization to access it if needed. The content of the e-mails also needs to be searchable, which the SharePoint search engine will do out of the box.

Even though SharePoint has a quite sophisticated integration with Outlook, it’s not as easy as one might think to move incoming and outgoing e-mail messages from the user’s personal inboxes to SharePoint. Sure, you can connect a document library in SharePoint to Outlook, but that will only give you read access to the files. If you want to store e-mails in a document library you need to use the explorer view or upload the msg files manually. That’s just not good enough if you want the end users to really adopt the tool and not just continue as usual, storing e-mails in their own exchange folders!

After trying out a few different options, we decided to go with a third party add in to Outlook called Colligo Add-In for Outlook. This component allows you to connect SharePoint libraries to Outlook and work with them just as folders in your mailbox. It also automatically extracts metadata about the e-mail such as subject, recipient, sender, etc and stores it in corresponding SharePoint columns. The possibility to just drag and drop e-mails to from the mailbox to SharePoint makes a world of difference for the end users.

There are a few other third party components available as well, but we decided to go with Colligo mainly because it’s a client solution that doesn’t require any server side component at all in the SharePoint environment.

Of course, the best thing would be if Microsoft could refine their Outlook integration a bit, and provide this functionality out of the box. Until that happens, we’re really happy that there are plenty of third party software vendors that can provide solutions for SharePoint’s weak points.

10 Responses to E-mail management in SharePoint – why third party software is required

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention E-mail management in SharePoint – why third party software is required « Christoffer von Sabsay -- Topsy.com

  2. Utvärderade ni SharePoint Workspace 2010? Fungerar väldigt bra med drag and drop där…

  3. Hi Wictor – SharePoint Workspace would be okay if you only need to work with the libraries at one site. We have one sub site per case though, and users are often working with several cases at the same time. Another thing that Colligo does it that it’s extracts the metadata from the e-mail message automatically. Workspace can’t do this, so we would need to write our own event receiever that parses the msg and sets the columns values to achieve this.

  4. Five out-of-the-box ways to get Email into SharePoint (blog post) provides some more options http://camerondwyer.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/five-out-of-the-box-ways-to-get-email-into-sharepoint

    • Hi Cameron and thanks for the link. It’s good to have several out of the box methods for storing e-mails and the options you mentioned will surely be good enougth for many organisations. The best thing though would be if it was possible to map SharePoint libraries to Outlook with read/write functionality and metadata extraction . Perhaps in the next version of SharePoint/Office?

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