Deciding on a business e-mail solution is an important decision. There are plenty of business e-mail solutions out there, all with their own advantages and disadvantages. Knowledge Center contributor Kirk Averett offers advice on how your company can get the most from its business e-mail solution while saving money at the same time.
today's business, e-mail is the most important communication tool you
have. Today's employees literally work out of their inbox. The key to
success is finding the right e-mail solution for your business
needs. All businesses are different, so there isn't just one packaged
solution that everyone can deploy.
In order to get the most from your e-mail solution (and save money
at the same time), you basically have three options: do it yourself,
use a free Web-based service or pay for a hosted solution. There
are a few businesses that can run on free e-mail, but most others
need a more personalized, reliable and secure solution that costs money
but saves a lot of time, headaches and problems. In the end, the right
solution can be well worth the money.
The overall goal for your company should be getting the most from
your e-mail solution while saving money at the same time. But beware of
the following pitfalls:
Pitfall #1: The cost of managing your e-mail in-house can surprise you
In my opinion, unless you're a Fortune 500 company with a large IT
budget and headcount, you should never consider hosting your own
e-mail. Many companies make the mistake of thinking they can save money
by running their own e-mail servers, but it is more than just
purchasing a server and loading the software. You need data center
space for the hardware with power and networking, licenses for the
software, employees to monitor and administer the systems 24/7 and
training. In the end, depending on your number of users, you could
easily spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Pitfall #2: Managing spam and anti-virus software is hard
A major problem we often hear about from customers giving up on
their in-house solutions is that IT administrators underestimate the
difficulty of spam filtering. They think that their company won't have
much trouble when, in actuality, fighting spam and viruses can consume
hours and hours every week. We often find that companies have moved
some of their top IT folks to manage the e-mail systems. They are
struggling with spam appliances or software, trying to scale their
systems to manage the huge workload. To give a sense of perspective,
one type of spammer technique is called a Directory Harvest Attack
(DHA) and you could face thousands of these attacks per day, every day.
I'm sometimes asked if outsourcing e-mail is a way to eliminate IT
positions and reduce staff. The short answer is no. In my nearly
four years in the e-mail hosting business, I haven't heard of a single
customer letting someone go. Instead, our customers are able to take a
talented IT person and have them work on things that more directly
support their business.
Pitfall #3: Free doesn't always mean free
Free providers can sometimes be an option for businesses who don't
need their own domain names in their e-mail address and who don't need
much support. Free mailboxes generally come with Web-based e-mail
access from a Web browser and sometimes with POP access. "Free"
does come with its own costs though, namely: reduced privacy, ads in
the Web mail interface and often added to the bottom of outgoing
messages, and somewhat less reliability than the average paid e-mail
hosting provider. Again, for an early-stage startup business, these may
be reasonable trade-offs for the usefulness of a decent working e-mail