Tracking email replies
August 14, 2012 7:35 AM   Subscribe

What is the best way to schedule and track anticipated replies to emails in Outlook?

Like many of you, email communication takes up a huge part of my working day. Often when I send emails, I am anticipating and needing a reply. Rather than just trust that this reply will come, I need to record the need and track when the reply comes. Is there a way, using Outlook, to automatically mark an email as "in need of response" and then to track whether and when the response is received?

If there isn't a way to automate this effectively, what systems to people use to do this effectively?

posted by kevin-o to Work & Money (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I use the flagging system -- redesignate "purple" to "Awaiting Reply." It's another click or two, but it makes searching for them pretty easy. If you find that most of the emails you send are in that category, you can set up a filter to flag anything you send as "Awaiting Reply" automatically, then manually unflag the ones that aren't.
posted by Etrigan at 7:41 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I use Thunderbird - but essentially do the same thing. Once a day a skim the sent folder and tag those emails that I need to follow up on if I don't get a reply.
posted by COD at 7:44 AM on August 14, 2012

You can use the categories, or you can use flags which can have a due date.

But Microsoft CRM (Dynamics CRM, technically) is exactly for this. You can track emails as activities on the contact's card, or you can use the service module to create cases (which gives you some more flexibility w/r/t/ status, respond-by times, etc). There is a CRM connector for Outlook, you don't have to work out of the web client for much of anything.

There's a cloud version (really, I think the on-premise version is dying out anyway) you can try for 30 days.

I run a support desk out of CRM. It's not perfect from a helpdesk standpoint, but it's very good from a contact management standpoint.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:48 AM on August 14, 2012

Lately I've been using Jello.Dashboard for tracking things I need to remember in Outlook, and I bet it would work well for this.
posted by dozo at 12:26 PM on August 14, 2012

You can do this regardless of your mail client using FollowUpThen. Just send a mail to and it will mail a copy of that back to you at the scheduled time. Alternately you can BCC and not have to write an extra mail.
posted by 23 at 7:26 PM on August 14, 2012

I added a custom field to my Outlook task view for "Waiting For" default: blank. I don't usually actually write a task for "email kevin-o", it would actually be "find out x from kevin-o" or "have kevin-o do x (implied: and tell me when that is done)" with the due date I wanted the answer.

So, seeing that on my task list, I would email kevin-o, then put kevin-o in the Waiting For field.

I can look at all the outstanding things I'm waiting for by putting the Waiting For field as a "group by" in the view and sort on due date.
posted by ctmf at 8:57 PM on August 14, 2012

If there isn't a way to automate this effectively, what systems to people use to do this effectively?

We use RT queues for things, as is common in sysadmin / helpdesk roles. We mark things "stalled" when awaiting a response, and they get reopened when a response comes back. The UI generally hides these tickets, so we know which tickets can be acted upon, but it's trivial to put a search filter on there.

Probably this kind of automation is overkill, but if your trying to manage a project via email, this is exactly the sort of thing you need.
posted by pwnguin at 8:12 PM on August 17, 2012

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