Business Email 101 – Step 3: Defining Email Requirements

Over the last few weeks, we’ve covered the individual chapters of the Business Email 101 guide. This week, we tackle Step Three: creating your email system requirements list. Your email wish list should start off very high-level and include everything you want even if at first blush certain features or capabilities seem cost or time prohibitive. Begin indentifying requirements by:

  • Auditing your current email system for usage
  • Polling users for pet peeves around the current email system
  • Reviewing regulations governing email in your industry

As you complete these steps, the Business Email 101 Guide offers several tips to help you along the way. For example:

Talk to the right stakeholders. A desk-based service representative may have a completely different idea of what their email system should look like than a salesperson in the field. As such, it’s important to take a sampling of feedback from different departments and levels in the organization. Use techniques like Survey Monkey, small focus group meetings, or setup an inbox to gather feedback and suggestions on the new system. Parse all of this feedback into a set of the top repeated needs.

Gather and analyze system data: This phase helps you create a baseline for “checklist features” of the next system. Reviewing system logs, outage reports and other performance data from your current email system can reveal technology gaps that a new system needs to address. Use indicators like the amount of storage users consume, types of devices users access messages from and the average attachment size to guide your feature set requirements. Compare this data with your user polling to further refine what the new system must include.

Security compliance: Obvious measures like spam and virus filters can protect you from malicious code, but are you protected against less obvious threats like the inability to produce messages in a legal proceeding because your emails haven’t been properly archived? Once stakeholder and technology needs have been parsed, the next step is to compare your list with security and compliance needs. For example, mobile email in a highly regulated industry, though a top request from users, may prove too risky or costly to justify. Other requirements around data retention, disaster recovery and privacy should be weighed as well. For example, the free consumer-level email currently in use may be great for the budget, but introduce privacy holes and weak SLAs that make it too risky to use.

For the full list of considerations when developing requirements, read or download the Business Email 101 Guide and turn to Step Three. Catch up on the previous chapter overviews here: Intro, Step One and Step Two.

Lizetta Staplefoote is a Rackspace Marketing Copywriter with a decade of experience writing about small business challenges for healthcare, real estate, and technology. Her passion is researching and writing about the impact of cloud computing. When she's not wordsmithing, she enjoys hanging out with her sons, exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains, and feeding her music addiction.


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