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by Dale Jones

Only in the past 15 years or so has email been an inherent and necessary part of corporate communications.  It started as an internal method of communicating with other employees, and soon expanded outside the organization to global employees, then to vendors, business partners, friends and family, and anyone else who could send and receive email.  It is now the most used and critical communication method in business.

Since email could arguably be the most influential aspect of corporate communications, it is essential like any other business communication to maintain the corporate branding on the employee’s email signature.  In the corporate world, most companies have a marketing department.  It is the responsibility of the marketing personnel to motivate potential consumers to take an interest in their products, increase sales, increase profits, and project the same consistent, professional, corporate image for a company. 

 Unfortunately, Domino and Notes do not offer a viable solution for controlling the signature, branding or disclaimer compliance in emails.  Each user must create and maintain their own signature elements such as, contact information, corporate tag line, slogan, logo, disclaimers, and other pertinent information.   Compliance for email signatures is a must as most lawsuits will inevitably look at emails for evidence to use in the case.  Plus, new laws, such as the EU signature disclosure directive, affect every corporate email user.

As an administrator of 12,000 users, I can tell you how nice it would be to have a central control system for signatures especially for a multi-national company.  No doubt many of my Domino admin counterparts or developers have created some work-around.  We ourselves have tried a work around.  However, this in-house solution began exhibiting issues on the Macintosh.  Turns out that because of non-admin installs and permissions issues with Mac OS 10.5, the signature mechanism just stopped working.  Oh how I wished for a server based solution instead of the client-based implementation we had been using up to this point.

 A 100% effective solution was not possible given all the potential caveats of each system, the multitude of desktop images that varied by agency (we had over 200 of them), and the ever-changing corporate landscape of rebranding, acquisition, mergers, and closures.  We also had to deal with double-byte character sets for Asian entities and creating (and maintaining) separate signatures for C-level execs and the legal department.  It was a nightmare – but it didn’t stop there.  Beyond these pitfalls lies the greater threat – end users.  If the user so desired, they could alter the content of the file used for their signature, and make their signature look any way they wanted, throwing another wrench into the goal of consistent branding and corporate image.  Oh, and did I mention the signature only works with the Notes client?  No BlackBerry or webmail/iNotes implementation existed for our work-around. 

Hopefully you have not had these experiences.  But if you have or you are looking to avoid the pains of signature compliance and branding, I recently was introduced to a simple and complete solution to your problem — Crossware Mail Signature.  They offer a centralized email signature solution that is a solid, out-of-the-box email signature control system that you can easily customize.  The solution is compatible with every type of device sending E-mail including web clients, desktop clients, and mobile devices (I.e. Blackberries, smartphones, and even iPhones).  On top of that it actually works on every platform of Domino no matter what OS you choose, be it Windows, Linux, AIX, IBM I, Solaris and even the zLinux platform.

This one is one of those “no-brainers” for your Notes email branding and disclaimer compliance.   Plus, you can introduce your marketing department to its advertising abilities.  

 You can demo their software with about 20 minutes of setup time.  Their website is www.crossware.co.nz .   Once you have their solution in place, you can move on to another project with peace of mind.

About the author
Dale Jones has worked as a Notes/Domino Developer and administrator since 1994.  His expertise has been utilized by fortune 1000 companies for custom application projects and complete corporate deployments. Currently he is responsible for managing a 12,000+ global Notes user community and enforcing corporate E-mail policies and standards worldwide.

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