Friday, September 12, 2014

Rant: Why Do I Have Trouble Convincing People to Use Search in Outlook?

Unlike my fellow coworkers, I like to use the search features because it is faster to find specific emails for me. But for some reason, they are forever stuck using folders to categorize their emails.

Of course, this is not much of a problem with our personal emails, emails that go directly to us (for work purposes). These are primarily with group emails. We need folders for internal, for external, for processes, for projects, etc. Depending who is more direct (which is very subjective at times), emails are filtered however the person handling it wants to filter it.

This would not be a problem if Microsoft Outlook actually returns the correct emails with the correct search terms. I just do not understand why Outlook just does not return the correct results when I request it to search in all folders. For some reason if I search for a ticket number, not all the emails are in the result. This is not even missing a folder, some of the emails found are in the same folder as the missing ones. If I go to that specific folder and search for the exact same term, it returns me the emails missing in the other search from a different folder using search all folders.

The reason I am trying to convince everyone to stop using folders and use search terms is because there are times we need to audit a process and see all emails related to the search term. I cannot afford the time to go through each folder to find emails on something.

Their counter argument is that they cannot find the emails that way. I am like... what?! They just have to type in the folder name that they normally use and there it is. I even demoed this in front of them in our conference call on many occasions. This would also force them to use our standards so that we can all find emails related to specific topics.

For example, I have to trace what happened with Ticket#123. Did we get client agreement for the scheduling? Would this be under folder 'external' or folder 'processes' or folder 'scheduling'? To make it more confusing there is all 'processes' in 'external' and 'scheduling'. That is not to be confused with 'internal' and 'external' in 'processes'. I have actually raised this example to my group and their explanation is that they know which one it would be in. Somehow this makes sense because it works for them even though they could not figure out how the other person files their files. Yet, I am expected to know which folders they had filed it under. Yet, searching for 'internal process' will provide the same materials that they are looking for. And if they just want their specific emails, they just have to type in their name or email id.

Folders are so old-school (in my opinion). This folder structuring has always been a problem. I have been trying to convince them that labels, keywords, and searches are much more effective in our line of work because we handle a lot of different teams.

Anyways, this rant has really triggered within me to evaluate me value to the team. I have tried to instill a lot of different ideas from my experience but none has stuck with any of the new members. Although they recognize that I am bringing ideas, most of them (in my opinion) are so stuck with their old processes from their old teams. I know that I have some prejudices towards their generation of corporate engineers, but they just cannot convince me that they care for new ideas at all.

On a side note about ranting, I am starting to notice that I jump around a lot when I'm venting. It gets more difficult to focus on my original complaint as I get more.... 'passionate' about the issue. I wonder if there is a way I can focus the energy more effectively. But on the other hand, I can use being more passionate about certain things even if I have to become less rational then usual.