Reminder email system sends emails only when files have not been received
May 26, 2007 10:09 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a web system to automatically send reminder emails to registered clients who don't submit documents on time.

Our clients register to visit us a couple of months in advance of actually coming. After they register, we ask them to submit several documents (text or photos), by email. These documents have different deadlines: some must be received a month in advance, some a week, etc.
Currently, as all documents are received by email, we have to keep careful track of who sent what, and also send reminders when documents aren't submitted on time. This is busywork that we'd prefer not to have to do.
We are looking for an online system that would allow us to register clients and their visit date, then perform the following tasks:
1) allow clients to upload required documents to the website themselves (best: provide a list of required documents to the client, only displaying ones not yet received)
2) track which documents have been uploaded by each client
3) send a reminder email if a client doesn't upload a required document by the deadline. Ideally, the deadline would be calculated automatically. So, for example, if we register the client as coming on August 15th, and they haven't uploaded their photo by July 15th, the system will automatically send the client an email requesting the photo.

I've searched as best I can, but a big part of the problem is that I don't know the terminology - what would this kind of software be called? It's not exactly CRM, I think, though I may be wrong.
Free software would of course be great, but if there is something that can do exactly what we want, we'd be happy to pay. Something we can install on our own site would be fine, as would a service we can contract with a web company for. Just for reference, we tried Moodle, but it didn't seem to have the automated email sending capability, or really any reasonable scheduling facility. Any advice much appreciated!
posted by bakerybob to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
I find it very hard to imagine doing this without any coding involved (regardless of whether you go the free-software or pay route). That said, it would be a pretty straightfoward web application to build, for any knowledgeable developer. (I could do it.)
posted by tmcw at 12:02 AM on May 27, 2007

Best answer: I agree, someone with experience could bang this out in a day or two in any common web scripting language, assuming that that doesn't include the time to design the HTML/CSS and text of the email (which would all just be templates that you'd edit yourself.) You might consider sites like where you can post your exact requirements and get some quotes. Not to say that there also isn't something already existing out there that might also work, but unless there's some hidden complexity that isn't apparent in your description, what you want is exceedingly simple to implement with a web scripting language and database.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:48 AM on May 27, 2007

Be careful -- you can't really trust e-mail to be 100% reliable, especially now with the evolving anti-spam measures all over the place. You could have a perfectly fine reminder system, but your clients can easily claim (justifiably) that they never received the reminders.

You could get around this by sending reminders twice a day or so until the recipient clicks a "received" link (which activates another part of the system).

I've wanted something like this, so I've thought about it some. A lot of non-profits could benefit from something like this, but only if it could really be relied upon.
posted by amtho at 7:19 AM on May 27, 2007

That said, if you have someone handy who's comfortable with the Unix command line, "cron" will pretty much do the non-reliable, stripped-down version of what you're asking for. You can search online for the documentation.
posted by amtho at 7:20 AM on May 27, 2007

Best answer: My suggestion would be to hire someone to write this for you. As Rhomboid said, it will only take a few days to put this togather. You could get this done for < $100 of those sites where coders bid projects (i can't remember the names of any). if you're a tight budget and have some experience installing php scripts, then you could try to piece something togather from free scripts that are available> Oh and there isn't really a particular name for this software.
posted by special-k at 9:57 AM on May 27, 2007

bid on projects.
posted by special-k at 9:58 AM on May 27, 2007

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