New feature: Email distribution list management and archiving

For better or for worse, email is the primary means of online collaboration in most organizations. Social intranet software offers a better way to share thoughts (blogs), work together on documents (wikis) and exchange files (upload & attach). But reducing reliance on email is not easy — as Prof. Andrew McAfee writes on his blog, any replacement for email has to be 9X better before users will switch.

So at ThoughtFarmer, we’re taking a different track: instead of trying to replace email, we’re leveraging it. With version 3.5, we introduce a powerful new feature: Email distribution list management and archiving. Here’s how it works:

1. Create a page

We create a new page called “Tough Engineering Problems”.
Step 1: Create a page

2. Join people to it

Then we “Enable Group Features” and join people to the group.
Step 2: Add people

3. Add a distribution list

Now we choose to synchronize group members with Microsoft Exchange. We can sync with an existing group or create a new group. In this case, we create a new Exchange group “engineers”. The email distribution list will be “engineers@openroad.ca”.
Step 3: Sync with a distribution list

4. Collaborate via email — and ThoughtFarmer

Any email sent to engineers@openroad.ca will be forwarded to all members of the group. But more importantly, ThoughtFarmer listens to the conversation and archives it, adds in photos, links up employee profiles, and indexes it for search.
Step 4: Collaborate via email *and* ThoughtFarmer
One of the key benefits of this feature is that it requires no change in behavior. People can continue collaborating on projects via email if they want to. But now, the collaboration is archived, searchable, and placed in the context of other project resources in ThoughtFarmer.

Email distribution list management and archiving is a feature of ThoughtFarmer 3.5, which is currently in beta release.

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