How does a small non-profit track emails of 7 different users?
June 2, 2013 5:15 PM   Subscribe

The manager of a non-profit owner wants to track inbound and outbound emails of 7 different users.

This non-profit has 8 people working for it.

Most are remote workers. They work at home most of the time. They use a combination and laptops and smartphones for emails.

The problem the manager has is tracking their emails. There are 7 email addresses e.g.,, etc.

He needs to be able to know if email enquiries are being responded to or not.
And he needs to have a copy of their sent emails. Their I.T. infrastructure is basic and they would like a Cloud-based solution if possible. Any ideas or possible solutions? What has worked for you?
posted by jacobean to Technology (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What email system are they currently using and do they want to stay with it? Are those actual email addresses or forwarders?
posted by radioamy at 5:33 PM on June 2, 2013

Response by poster: They are mostly using Outlook 2010. The users seem fine with that.

However, the guy running the organziation does not know whether certain emails have been responded to. If there has been a response sent, he does not have a copy of the communication...This makes administration very messy.
posted by jacobean at 5:44 PM on June 2, 2013

I think you/they are coming at this from the wrong angle. This is presented as needing a tech solution, almost as if he wants to spy on the employees.

If someone higher in an organization wants to know people are replying to certain emails, it's typical to have people cc or bcc the boss on the replies.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:21 PM on June 2, 2013

The usual approach is to use functional (as opposed to personal) email addresses, which it sounds like they are already (mostly?) doing. These should be aliases for mailing lists - and the boss should be on all of them. And everybody should "reply all" to all the mail that comes over these addresses. This has been standard practice at most/all companies I've worked at, and has the advantage that, e.g. if somebody mails "" and the regular support person is out sick, their backup sees it too.

I'm assuming that each employee has his/her own personal email address as well, of course.
posted by mr vino at 6:55 PM on June 2, 2013

One option would be to use some sort of help ticketing system. The one we use at work is called Remedy, and is a horrible, horrible option for your use case, but has all sorts of reporting features. For example, our goal is to respond to all initial contacts within 24 hours, and this lets us see if that happens or not. It also keeps track of all correspondance, etc. There are lots of these types of systems out there.

On Preview, mr vino has another good solution.
posted by rockindata at 6:57 PM on June 2, 2013 would be great for a use case like this. My company uses it for support -- it's great to see who has responded to what in one centralized organized place
posted by wrok at 7:02 PM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]

This non-profit has 8 people working for it.

This sounds like MeFi except for the non-profit part. I'm the person who makes sure emails are responded to (and decently quickly) and what we do is have a cc address or whatever and responses go to everyone. And to keep the deluge down, we have filtering rules that either send the cc's to people's archives or at least labels them (we may all use gmail) so that people can file them how they want. This way if there's a question that looks like a mod question but turns into a pb question, he can see the past emails and know what's up. This is what we do instead of a ticketing system but I think if the place grew any more we'd really have to go with a ticketing system since for the mods who don't work very often, there's a lot of email that's not really relevant to them.

Also there's no reason that sent emails can't sync to the server, is there? I do some shared support for another organization and we just work out of the same inbox and share all the same sent mail which syncs to the server.
posted by jessamyn at 7:35 PM on June 2, 2013

Does the solution have to function without the cooperation of the seven employees? Are they hostile to the boss's desire to know what is going on?
posted by alms at 8:55 PM on June 2, 2013

jacobean: "He needs to be able to know if email enquiries are being responded to or not. "

I'm assuming this is the entirety of the request, not that the manager wants to know all correspondence of employees at all times, etc. There is a technical solution to this problem, one that mostly works quite well. It's called a ticketing system, and there are dozens. We use a RequestTracker, a ticketing system, which works as thus:

1. Emails for addresses to be monitored are routed to RT.
2. RT stores the email, and places it in a queue. Instead of read/unread it uses new/open/resolved/rejected/stalled.
3. After placing a ticket into a queue, all watchers of that queue are notified of a new request via email.
4. Replying to the ticket email replies to the requester and all watchers.
5. Either via control messages in the header or via the Web interface, employees update the ticket status.

The RT web interface allows a manager to review open inquiries, and see their progress. A sufficiently motivated manager can write some SQL queries to generate a time series of throughput, time to response, average wait time, or what have you. A sufficiently crazy manager can make themselves watcher on all seven queues, and get all that email.

A slightly less deranged manager will delegate that mail to someone like me =(
posted by pwnguin at 9:06 PM on June 2, 2013

Best answer: Yeah - you need a ticketing / helpdesk system.

There are loads of these, and they're all slightly different, and they're all not quite right. Look at :

and search google for reviews of, and companies that provide
- Issue Trackers
- Helpdesk Software
- Ticketing system
- Support Software

Because you're a non-profit, one of these companies may be actually be happy to host a solution for free.
posted by zoo at 12:35 AM on June 3, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you to everyone who contributed.

I am currently trialing the solutions recommended by Zoo.

Thanks again.
posted by jacobean at 3:19 PM on June 8, 2013

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