One of the problems with ditching Exchange and moving to Google Apps has been the lack of public folder functionality. Public folders are those folders that your Exchange admin would set up where they could give multiple users the right to view content and other users the rights to add and edit content. They are sort of a cheap intranet; at least that’s how we used them.
We successfully migrated 300+ users to Google Apps finishing late this Spring. Part of that required that we solve the lack of public folders. For those public folders where we would just put documents for access, we helped our users migrate to using Google Sites. With sites, users can easily post information or documents. Some of our users also use shared Google Docs for this purpose.
We still had the issue of having multiple users easily access one email account for customer service or other public facing email addresses. We turned to Email Center Pro for a solution that really improves on the public folder paradigm.
The things we like about Email Center Pro:
- Like public folders, there is a many to many relationship between email boxes and users. In other words, users can be assigned to multiple mailboxes and multiple users can be assigned to the same mailbox.
- The user interface is a very nice dashboard that has
- A drop down list of all the users mailboxes,
- A list of all the other users that are currently logged into that mailbox,
- The ability to save searches,
- Recent activity log,
- Account usage,
- The message inbox, and
- a customizable graph of mailbox activity that is exportable to CSV for further analysis.
- Plus there are about 15 more widgets that are available to add.
- Emails can be assigned for response to ensure that no emails are missed or forgotten and that they only get responded to one time.
- The Email Center Pro inbox can send you an alert when email arrives so you don’t have to keep checking.
- You can create and use templates for common responses, ensuring that communications are consistent and saving time.
- Create notes for other team members
- You can create a link from the email to a case in your case system. In our case we use Salesforce. This works nicely when you need to update the case with information from the email thread.
So, we didn’t solve all the problems with just Google. But that’s the great thing about Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, they understand that complimentary functionality and seamless integration is the name of the game. All-in-all, with the public folder functionality replaced and improved, the transition to Google Apps went very well. We are very happy with the choice and the many new features that Google and Email Center Pro have added to our email handling.