Return to the email argument

More than three years ago, I first wrote (The email argument) about the challenge of managing project-related email. Or, rather, I pointed out that some ‘extranet’ systems, such as [my employer] BIW’s, discourage use of email so that project communications are managed within a self-contained and easily auditable secure repository (see also The email argument (2) and The email argument revisited).

However, some solutions seem intent on retaining email as a core communication channel. The latest to advocate this approach is Cadac’s MS SharePoint-based Organice (see More SharePoint for AEC) which has just released a case study on managing email (see

Needless to say, but from a BIW perspective (also shared by several clients I have spoken to who tell their project teams that email will not be recognised – that all project-related communications must pass through the web-based BIW system), it makes bizarre reading – for example:

“Managing e-mail adequately is crucial to properly control the exchange of information in projects. … E-mail is indispensable in exchanging information between internal and external project members.”


There are alternatives – as BIW has demonstrated for several years (however, if you absolutely do want to integrate email into your project collaboration solution, then BIW also has an Outlook Integration tool).

A SharePoint aside

While on the subject of SharePoint (not a favourite application of mine, I must admit), I did see a post earlier this evening that was scathing:

“We went from 5 silos in our organization to hundreds in a month after deploying SharePoint. … There is great information being shared and flowing into the system, but we don’t know it exists, nor can we easily share it, nor do much of anything with that information.”

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  1. I have to agree with this one. We’ve been a proponent of centralized discussions since at lest 2001 when we started using threaded discussins for project management. Unquestionable benefits. Having a fast way to add emails into threads is nice, even several automated ways work pretty well. But no question unstructured email is tough to deal with after the fact. If it must be stored as a MSG file, for example with exchange, then we still encourage using traditional full text indexed document managemnt software. Anything to get it out of the distributed mail readers in box is a plus. Wes.

  2. Email is just another form of correspondence on a project and needs to be tracked accordingly – the key is how easily are these formal and informal systems managed and do they meet the goals of the project for information management. I think too often IT department get their confused view of “information management” and “messaging” mixed up with the requirements of project team’s and that’s where the SharePoint “virus” usually comes from.
    Projects need to be well structured and well managed in every element, allowing random creation of information silos is a sure fire way to lose important data which as we all know ultimately hurts the project.

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