E-Commerce Times Talkback
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The Internet revolution has had the unintended effect of decreasing the use of oral communication and increasing the importance of text -- particularly e-mails -- as the primary means of business communications. Why has e-mail become so popular? Why use e-mails instead of phone calls? It is harder to control the conduct of phone calls than e-mail, their length, subject matter, depth of content, and the availability of other participants.
I would be interested in hearing the author's opinion regarding the proper way to decide on who the recipients of e-mails should be, especially those related to urgent problems or action items.
My boss has a habit of addressing e-mails that report problems that need to be fixed or action that needs to be taken to several department heads.
The question then becomes who is going to fix the problem or take the action.
There have been numerous instances where I and several of my co-managers start working on the project at the same time, duplicating efforts and sometimes working at cross purposes.
I know enough to promptly "reply all" when it is clear that I can handle the issue at hand, but sometimes it takes further investigation to find out exactly what the problem is, and who in the company can fix it.
Sometimes the oppositie happens. All of us read the e-mail, and all assume someone else will handle the problem, and nothing gets done.
I have always felt that the e-mail should be sent to one person, and copied to others who might be affected, so that the chain of responsibility is made clear from the beginning.
Even more frustrating is when someone who got one of these group e-mails fixes or discovers the cause of the problem, and does not promptly inform the rest of the group what was done.
For urgent problems I prefer trouble ticket systems to e-mails, and for ideas and directives from upper management, I prefer project management software. For trouble ticket systems, you need to make sure there are scheduled and assigned "officers of the day or shift" that are immediately notified of a new trouble ticket report, and back up communications so that the ticket continues to be disseminated until the system receives feedback that someone has taken responsibility for following through on the problem.