Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sofware Management Antipatterns: E-Mail is Dangerous

Using e-mail is an important communication tool in software companies, but performing communications mostly with e-mail is dangerous. In this post, this issue will be detailed together with common e-mail mistakes. This information can be generalized for most types of companies.

E-mails may be used for some kind of situations:
  • For sending a report, meeting record etc. which is not confidential, to a manager or a group.
  • For sending a short message which is not urgent, to a person who can’t be accessed via telephone and face-to-face.
E-mails should NOT be used for these situations:
  • For confidential messages and criticisms: E-mails can be distributed to other people or large groups easily, so this is not a good idea.
  • For situations  which could be used as evidence in a court of law : For example, if you say “We will do X item in a month” to the customer with e-mail, it can be a mandatory item for you in the next days.
  • For explaining a complex topic: It will be time consuming to write hundreds of words. Speaking will be more effective.
  • For explaining an important, sensitive topic: Word emphasis, voice tone, gestures and mimics are very important for conversations. E-mails have none of them and this may cause misunderstandings.

And some e-mail suggestions:

  •  Don’t use e-mail bodies as title, this is ridiculous:
Title: Please send me a report about X task.
Body: nothing
    •  Don’t put hundreds of people to your e-mail’s “TO” or “CC” list. Use BCC. Otherwise all people and spam softwares will know all e-mails:,, ... ,, …,
      • Don’t use infinite forwards for e-mails. These type of mails are not funny for most people.
      To: hundreds of people
      Title: FW:FW:FW:FW:FW:FW:FW:FW:FW:…
        • Don’t use e-mails as FTP. Use a file transfer protocol for sending messages larger than a few MB. A common wrong usage:
        Attachments: AnImportantDocument.pdf (123 MB)

        • Don’t use e-mails as a version controlling system. Manage your documents with a real version controlling system:
        Attachments:  “CustomerReport_last_20122010_newest_veryVeryLast_1_1.doc”.

        • Don’t use so many smiley images, big signature images, long signatures, colorful decoration templates in your e-mail. These are generally disgusting and unnecessary. Besides, they will increase network load.


        1 comment:

        1. Excellent article. I wish that all people could read this!

          Can I repost it ( with reference of course ) in my blog?