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E-mail's bulletin board gets the word out.

Corporate information--like news releases, insurance and stock plan updates, training classes and department softball games--often gets taped up on bulletin boards, distributed in newsletters, or spread by word of mouth.

No one is quite certain if all employees get the message.

But no longer. Enter electronic mail and, particularly, electronic bulletin boards, where news items and company facts are displayed for all employees to see. With the touch of a key, mass company-wide messages are no longer a hit and miss gamble.

An example of how electronic bulletin boards have made a difference can be seen at the Iowa Public Service Company (IPS) and Iowa Power subsidiaries of Midwest Resources Inc., Iowa's largest utility supplier. Prior to E-mail, news releases were sent out to over 3,000 employees through a combination of newsletters and phone calls. The installation of an electronic mail system over five years ago opened up a whole new realm of communication.

"We wanted instant and effective communication," says Nelson Shulenberger, Product Analyst in the Computer Resource Center of IPS. "Installing E-mail has done wonders for us. The use is intense now. We send 1,200 new messages every day."

Iowa Public Service Company has focused in extensively on the bulletin board feature of electronic mail.

"We use the bulletin board to transmit all kinds of company information," states Shulenberger. "We post monthly operating letters along with a daily newsletter that keeps people up to date on things that are going on."

That electronic newsletter serves another function for IPS. Employees are encouraged to ask questions about the company and its policies, anonymously if they choose, and those questions are then answered on the daily newsletter.

"We also put upcoming events, computer and professional training classes, and tips for using E-mail, personal computers and other mainframe systems on the board. The use of the bulletin board feature has really taken off here in the last six months. People are seeing more uses for it and they want to put more and more there."

The bulletin board has gotten so popular, in fact, that Iowa Public Service Company has had to partially restrict employees' ability to add to it.

"We don't want too much information out there," explains Shulenberger. "But aside from that, we encourage everyone to use the E-mail system."

Also taking off at IPS is the use of electronic forms.

"We use E-forms for everything from change requests for the accounting system to payroll forms to invoice reclassification forms to customers information sheets," says Shulenberger. "This is another feature that's booming."

Shulenberger gets requests all the time to make up new E-forms. The company now has forms for travel requests (car rentals and airline reservations), job postings, and rooms and audio/visual equipment requests.

"We have a lot of people using E-forms for phone messages," states Shulenberger. "Rather that writing down the message and sticking it in a slot, a person simply types it up and sends it electronically. The recipient only has to look at his or her mail to see their phone messages. It's much easier."

The scheduling of rooms and equipment is also easier with E-mail.

"Our company is really spread out," explains Shulenberger, "and all of the secretaries use the room scheduler. If you haven't scheduled a room through a secretary on E-mail, there's no guarantee that you'll get it."

Iowa Public Service Company also uses E-mail's scheduling feature to schedule pool cars as well as audio-visual equipment.

"At any time, any employee can look at the schedule menu and see which cars, rooms and audio/visual equipment are available."

For over five years now, Iowa Public Service Company has been using SYSM, an electronic mail system from H & W Computer Systems Inc., in Boise, Idaho.

"We chose SYSM because the features were there," Shulenberger says. "It's easy to use, easy to learn and easy to follow."

He thinks one of the best things about E-mail is the ease in carrying on a correspondence over the system. "Rather than playing telephone tag with someone, you can send a message on SYSM and answer it back and forth until your conversation is finished. There are no more loose ends."
COPYRIGHT 1992 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Iowa Power Services Company
Author:Cohen, Christy
Publication:Communications News
Date:Aug 1, 1992
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