Any tips on organizing a shared Outlook inbox for 70?

Question: “I work with a team of four admins. We work for 30 to 70 people and use a shared Outlook inbox where managers put in requests for projects, meeting set-ups, etc. Generally, we monitor the inbox hourly, but lately we’ve had so many requests, several have fallen through the cracks. What’s the best way to organize this to ensure that we respond to all requests without any of the admins duplicating efforts? ” — Anonymous

Liz August 23, 2010 at 12:10 pm

If you take on a request, respond to the requester that you will complete their request so that the requester knows who is handling it. Then move the email to the task folder! Make sure you move it to the folder, not copy to folder. This will accomplish several things. First and foremost it will clear up your inbox thereby making it easier for everyone to see when a new request comes in. Moving the email to the task list also lets you see who is completing said request, allows for progress to be tracked, notes to be maintained, and status reports can be sent to the original requester.

Tami August 23, 2010 at 8:38 am

Make Folders! Each admin can have a folder labelled with his/her name and within that, sub folder with pending and completed work. If the tasks are a first come/first serve basis, then they can be moved into an admins folder once they have started the task. I have several folders in my Outlook. Once I’ve dealt with an e-mail that I don’t want to delete, it gets moved to the appropriate folder. Your bosses can also utilize the “Task” list and list tasks to be done there. Once they are finished, you have the option of checking them off. They also can have the % of completeness changed throughout the task, which would be helpful to avoid redundancy.

Fellow Admin Assistant August 20, 2010 at 7:46 pm

You can use the organize function and color code requests. You probably get the same requests over and over so give each one a color or color a category. Use red for absolutely urgent requests and be clear not all requests can be urgent just because they’re trying to turn their tardiness into your crisis. It sounds like you are all responsible to take whatever the request is… once one of you opens it you should forward to the other 3 admins, and the person requesting, that you are the person handling that particular request therefore eliminating duplicate efforts and it be known who to follow up with if needed. You’ll have to set up a color code list showing what goes with what type of request (blue = order coffee) and distribute it to everyone.

Jeanne August 20, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Admin Pro D

Flagging with colors may help…this can display that the item has been read, but would have to be agreed upon for all who use public folders within your company.

Jewel Thompson August 20, 2010 at 4:57 pm

I can think of a few different ways:
1. Color coding each Manager’s name or type of request and assigning the colors to each admin – that admin would be responsible for that item
2. Creating folders for each manager and having the email go directly to that folder when it comes in and create a recurring calendar event that pops up to remind everyone on a specific day or time to check the folder for new projects.
3. Another option would be to forward the messages to the Tasks list and assign a f/u time so a reminder will pop up for it.

Lori August 20, 2010 at 4:46 pm

Maybe try assigning a category color to each Assistant and have them categorize each request they have taken care of or are handling. It would be very apparent then which items still need to be handled. Good luck!

Cindy R August 20, 2010 at 4:42 pm

We have a few “general” email inboxes that several of us check. We have setup a system using categories – each person has a color in the catagory and when one is working on something, places her “color” in the categories to let everyone know it is being worked on. When completed, we use the check mark in the flag column.

Liza August 20, 2010 at 4:38 pm

If you have Outlook for Microsoft Office 2007, you can assign color codes to emails. For my inbox, I assign a different color for each function I am responsible, AP, AR, HR, etc… You could each be assigned a color and if you are filling a request, assign your color to that email.

You could also add folders; in-progress, completed, etc.

You could create a folder for each request: Maint on Copier, PPT Project for SH mtg, etc.

Or your could utilize all of them. It depends on how everyone organizes things and which layout you can all agree on.

Most importantly, you have to follow the layout!

Mere August 20, 2010 at 4:35 pm

After someone reads the email request and takes ownership of getting it done, you could add a category colored box. Each admin could have their own color. You would know at a glance if the request was being handled and who had ownership of getting it done. If the category option does not show up on your view, you can add it with the customization option.

Journey August 20, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Have you thought about using the Tag feature? A color tag with their name can be set up for each Admin so as not to overlap on who is handling the request. If there is not a color on the email you know no one has looked at the request. Once the job is completed by the Admin who tagged it you can then move it to a different folder in case there are questions later.