Some years back I sold a Kerio® Connect email server to a small local company. It wasn't a direct sale; I had been brought in by another consultant who had explained "These people live and die by email!". As I wasn't closely involved with the actual customer, I didn't ask why email was so critical to them - I just assumed that was important for the usual reasons.
A few years went by and the consultant contacted me again about this customer. It seems that they had previously been using an email client called "Incredimail" and that they had been running that and Outlook concurrently. They now wanted to extract the Incredimail messages and put them into folders on the new mail server. Unfortunately, Incredimail makes that process exceptionally difficult.
I offered to stop in to see if I could help. I'd done some research on Incredimail and wasn't very confident, but I felt there was nothing to lose by going in, so I arranged to meet the other consultant yesterday morning.
He showed me the Incredimail files on one user's PC and we looked at some of the tools he tried to use to extract messages and attachments. He hadn't had much luck and I wasn't able to offer much more. However, I did notice that the messages were quite old and asked if they really needed these - why was it so critical?
The answer was surprising. It turns out that this company is using internal email as a customer document manager. They have to maintain multiple documents for each of their customers and multiple people in the organization may need to work on those files. To answer that need, they email the files back and forth between themselves!
That's a bad, bad way to do it. It risks error (is Jim's copy of that Excel spreadsheet the same as Nancy's?) and wastes storage. It's inefficient and clumsy - there's no one place to find everything related to a customer. They should be doing this differently.
I explained all that to the office manager and she said that they had looked into a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) system once but that the price was impossible for them to bear. I was happy to see that she recognized the problem. Fortunately, I had a free or inexpensive solution: Kerio Workspace.
I've alread talked about how Kerio Workspace can be used as a file server. While a full fledged CRM or document management system is of course much more than that, the basics is just organizing files by the customers they belong to. With the addition of the version control, commenting and fast searching that Workspace offers, this would obviously be far better than passing files around in email.
I had taken a look at one user's email - there was roughly 300MB of files. If that is typical, their entire storage for twenty employees would be under the 10GB limit of the free Kerio Workspace Starter Edition. I explained that if they did exceed that, the cost would be quite small - $600 or so the first year and a third of that in subsequent years.
No, it's not a full fledged CRM or Document Management System. However, it would be a vast improvement over email for this customer. I hope that they will realize that and improve their infrastructure as I have suggested.
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