12 November 2012

Advanced, Server-Side Mail Filtering For Increasing Productivity and Maintaining Sanity


A company that I work with uses Salesforce.com for various CRM functions.  I receive a regular stream of emails from Salesforce.com with Subject: headers that look something like this:

New case comment notification. Case Number 00012345
New case comment notification. Case Number 00533654
New case comment notification. Case Number 00667788
New case comment notification. Case Number 00887644

There are various other Subject headers as well.  These emails get generated anytime a customer or a colleague does anything associated with a Salesforce case.  Like I said, I receive a regular stream of messages like this one.

I find these emails to be really inconvenient.  While it is true that all of these emails include a URL back to Salesforce.com so I can refer to the Salesforce case, the problem is that I am a serious email user and I rely upon email Subject: headers to be able to sort and prioritize my email.  Quite frankly, when I look at an email Inbox with Subjects: like above, I can't quickly figure out which messages require immediate attention and which other ones are lower-priority.

These emails would be a lot easier to deal with if they had Subject: headers like this:
 
SF 00012345 - Acme Inc. - foo.jsp doesn't display under Chrome
SF 00533654 - FrozzBozz Inc. - problem exists between keyboard and chair
SF 00667788 - University of Nowhere - performance problem
SF 00887644 - Acme Inc. - I18N problem

I've been told through various channels that for these emails to be improved on the Salesforce side of the connection is 'impossible'.  I don't know if the problem here is technical or political, but I have heard about other Salesforce customers who complain about the same problem.

Quite frankly, I can't get my work done every day if I am going to be interrupted by a regular stream of email messages with confusing Subjects of 'New case comment notification.  Case Number 00887644'. So, I decided I needed to create a utility to fix this problem.

One caveat that I should mention in all of this is that I don't really deal with Salesforce's CRM via email except from the mail that I receive from Salesforce.  I never send mail to Salesforce -- the way that this utility changes Subject headers is something that is convenient for me but it might interfere with how other systems are configured to deal with Salesforce.

...........

Another problem that I have in this area is that at my work-site I access my email via the company's IMAP server.  I do run my own IMAP server at home for my own email, but at work I really do not want ot be running my own IMAP server.  There is no way that I can run any kind of non-trivial mail-processing code on the company's IMAP server.


So, anyways, I wrote a utility to solve the problems I was having in this area:

https://github.com/kdc1024/salesforce-hacks


I'm very happy to say that my productivity has gone up quite a bit at work since I've started using this utility.  Also, my stress level has decreased by quite a bit.  It is very cool to be able to filter my mail (using a very non-trivial filter) on the server-side.

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