Hi all--hoping that some pros in the community can help me think about a major challenge facing the team I just took over.  The team manages a shared Outlook Inbox that receives external inquiries that need to be farmed out to other parts of the organization, received back, reviewed, sent to others for review, and then ultimately responded to.  We are government, so cannot use any software outside of the Microsoft suite, but we do have Teams, Office365, OneNote, Planner, and Powerautomate.  The system the team has been using is extremely clunky/flawed.  When a message comes in, folks color code it to a staff/area, forward it to the relevant part of the broader organization, move the outgoing message to a folder, and then there's typically a number of back and forth emails on the topic that aren't together.  Things easily fall through the cracks, there's no good way to "comment" or discuss internally, and it's very difficult for me as the manager to quickly figure out where a particular inquiry is in the process.  Another challenge is tracking--we need to track all of the inquiries, the deadlines, status.  Currently, we are doing that manually in OneNote, but some sort of integration would be amazing.

I'm not by any means a tech or MS expert, but have been looking into whether there are better ways to do the task management part of this that can link to email and haven't found anything that looks great.  It looks like there is lots of proprietary software that could help us, but that's just not an option.

I'd welcome any tips, suggestions, thoughts.  Thank you so much in advance!

darylj's picture
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Sorry for the delay in responding. Have you looked into a custom form/list in SharePoint? 

You can use SharePoint Designer to automate custom workflows and notifications. 

We migrated from an email based “system” (if you could call it that) which was full of holes and cracks for requests to fall through. It was not too rough to migrate once I got familiar with SharePoint Designer. 

Feel free to reach out if you want to discuss in more detail. 


rayagarcia's picture
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We have the same type of issue in my group.  A shared mailbox with requests from customers and system-generated emails.  The best we could do is designate one person on shift to manage the InBox each day and get it to zero by the end of shift.  The night shift ends up doing most of the clean-up and there is a lot of times where the InBox gets neglected and full again.

@darylj has the right answer when people are submitting requests.  SharePoint implemented to handle status requests from our customers saved us a lot of time. 


jrb3's picture
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So what are others in your agency using to solve this, or in offices like yours in other agencies?

For the startup I'm falling into right now, I'll have to start from scratch.  I expect to throw together a Google spreadsheet (low volume) then grow into ZenDesk or some such.  I'll draw on insight from the Career Tools podcasts 16-18 April 2020 "The Manager Tools Work Management Spreadsheet" to create that tracker.