Monday, 5 January 2009

SharePoint via Email

Snow on the ground, a new Villa Calendar on the office wall and a new pair of ‘climate control’ socks on my feet, yes 2009 has really begun. First day back in the office means a thousand emails (slight exaggeration but only just) to go through and booking your next vacation (OK ‘Vacation’ is quite an American word but 62% of my blog readers in 2008 were from the US). So how can SharePoint help with these post-Christmas tasks? Firstly, the rather large Inbox, a disease that hits many of us at this time of year (as well as the festive-flu and catching re-runs of the Vicar of Dibley) even with all our Spam Filters working in overdrive, can be solved with some SharePoint medicine. Like all of the other Officetalk SharePoint Consultants I need to remain up-to-date with all the advances in SharePoint so I join many SharePoint email groups including the excellent SharePoint UK Usergroup ( Whilst these are all great sources of information it can very easily lead to email overload which is why SharePoint can be so useful. From SharePoint Central Administration you can set your SharePoint to receive emails from ‘Operations’ – ‘Incoming Email Settings’. Just make sure that ‘Enable sites on this Server to receive Emails’ is set to ‘yes’. Now when you create a ‘Document Library’ you will get the option ‘Incoming Email’ which can be set to allow the ‘Document Library’ to receive emails. All you have to do is give it an email address to use. This will be an internal address that all your internal mail users will be able to send emails to. How will this help my festive email overload? Well, before Christmas I could have setup a rule on my Outlook or on my Exchange server to move all messages from one of my SharePoint groups directly to a SharePoint document library where all of our consultants could see it. Perhaps I should have given you this tip before Christmas! Mind you, you can set up the rule on your current Inbox now in Outlook and then under ‘Tools’ - ‘Rules and Alerts’ click ‘Run Rules Now’ and watch your inbox shrink. Just make sure you haven’t got an Alert setup on the SharePoint Document Library that informs you every time a new document is added. With the addition of some SharePoint workflow on the Document Library you can automatically deal with these emails even more efficiently. This way if a customer enquiry comes through when you are eating your chocolate egg during your Easter Vacation you can have SharePoint automatically handle it for you. Apologies for mentioning Easter when you have only just finished your final helping of cold turkey. Next job for first day back is to see when you can take the remainder of your Holiday Entitlement. This is a process that your company can easily incorporate into their SharePoint. Using calendar views and some simple workflow you can develop an easy to use system for organising your employees holiday requests. The workflow can automatically send emails to Line Managers requesting confirmation that the request is acceptable and can record in a calendar view who is on leave when. If you would like help to develop a Holiday Request system or any other SharePoint electronic systems please give Frank at Officetalk a call on 01386 833 535. So with my inbox now down to single figures and my next holiday booked I am ready to really start work and think of any other ways that I can make SharePoint make my job easier in 2009 (the year when Aston Villa will finally win the FA Cup again). For those of you interested the ‘Climate Control’ Socks are available from Marks & Spencer priced £7.50 for two pairs.


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