For the past few weeks I have been spending about four days a week with my newest client – my Mother. When we lost Dad last Spring, Mom became the sole owner of Gulf Coast Welding Corp. – a fabrication company that builds ASME code vessels, rolls steel plate and overlays equipment with corrosion resistent coatings. Mom and her staff have done a great job keeping Gulf Coast going, but recently she asked me to step in to help update some of their systems. The first thing I noticed was that there is no internal email capability – needless to say that is an environment that is somewhat uncomfortable for me and of course we are in the process of remedying the situation. In the mean time I have a whole new appreciation for Outlook and thought you might enjoy hearing the top 5 things about Outlook that I miss the most.
#5 Meeting Requests & Shared Calendars
It took us 4 weeks to establish a regular time and date that would work for the 9 participants of our weekly production meeting. How much easier would this task have been if we had access to each other’s calendar or at least the Outlook scheduling tab on meeting request items. Sheesh!
#4 Emailing to Individuals
I really miss being able to just fire off an email with a question as it comes up (especially since some Gulf Coast employees work 4 tens and are not always there when I am) or forward information I receive externally via email rather than print it out and lay it on someone’s desk. Hard to believe what a huge difference in productivity (not to mention tree killing) this simple ability makes.
#3 Email History
Its no seceret – I have a terrible memory. Being able to go back and see when I have and haven’t sent an email is huge and a lot more reliable than my memory of whether or not I remember to tell someone something important.
#2 Emailing to a Distribution List
Each week when we have our production meeting, we distribute minutes from the week before along with various other reports at the beginning of the meeting on paper. It is so much more helpful to have these materials beforehand and really, they don’t all need to be printed out if we all get a chance to review the information before the meeting.
#1 Assigning Tasks in Outlook
We are in the midst of making a lot of changes at Gulf Coast and change definitely means lots of tasks. We’ve been tracking our action items in the weekly production meeting minutes, but that system is no where near as effective or real time as assigning tasks in Outlook. For a consultant tasked with implementing change, being able to track progress on tasks is invaluable and easily the thing I miss most about Outlook on this job!
I look at not having Outlook for the first few weeks at Gulf Coast as being very similar to not having power for two weeks after hurricane Ike – it really makes you appreciate it when you get it back!