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E-mail plugs people drain.


What do you do if, as a subsidiary of a national conglomerate, you get a message from on high to cut administrative costs and improve productivity?

Such was the mandate given to TRW Inc.'s Credit Data Division earlier this year.

Cost reduction meant that some of the Orange, Calif., division's administrative support staff would have to be cut, materials and supplies costs reduced.

The division also wanted to provide electronic-mail capability to more of its organization--without adding to the cost of its current system, which had yearly license fees of $500,000 for 1400 users.

Credit Data Division's Technology Services Department decided to review the current E-mail system and explore the possibility of changing to one that offered more capabilities at a reduced cost.

Bette King, Information Systems consultant, knew integrated E-mail could alleviate some of the problems brought on by having fewer administrative-support people.

"We had been using Spring International's SprintMail for eight years. If offered no integrated options and was expensive."

The system had to offer all the standard options and be easy to use. It had to offer electronic-forms capability. It had to be administered easily. It had to offer PC support.

And cost was a factor.

After a trial, cost threw the decision in favor of SYSM from H&W Computer Systems. It is installed on a Amdahl 1400 mainframe, and 458 Technology Services employees are now using it.

Options Galore

SYSM offered a full line of options, including calendaring, room scheduling, and electronic forms.

The division also purchased two SYSM options that allow the E-mail to send facsimiles and to link with Western Union's EasyLink.

"Everyone understands the benefits of E-mail, so we didn't have to sell that concept," King says. "But calendaring is a harder sell. We are admitting that using an electronic calendar doesn't add to individual productivity--its real value comes when others are trying to reach someone."

Since the administration staff has been reduced and fewer professional people have secretaries, they are hard to contact.

With electronic calendaring, anyone can access a person's calendar.

"I've had people tell me, 'This is great, now I can keep track of where my boss is,'" King says.

Ability to develop and route electronic forms is a potential boost to productivity.

The department has identified some key internal forms that include a six-page performance evaluation and expense reports.

The have been created in SYSM and will be completed as necessary and routed to the appropriate people for approval--all electronically.

Electronic forms will reduce the costs associated with having forms designed and printed, plus reduce paper flow, King says.

Convenient Fax Link

Technology services is one of the first users of SYSM's facsimile link, which allows a user to send a fax through the E-mail send command.

A dedicated PC that cotains a fax card--a must for this option--allows SYSM-to-fax communication.

"We're just barely getting started with this option," King says, "but we expect it to be a big time saver."

One SYSM option that turned out to be a big plus for the division is its interface with Western Union's Easy-Link, which converts E-mail messages through the X.400 protocol.

TRW Inc., the division's parent company, uses SprintMail corporatewide.

Divisions are allowed to use a different E-mail system but must maintain an interface with SprintMail, which necessitates use of X.400.

Although only about 10% of the division's E-mail communications go to TRW headquarters in Cleveland, the connectivity must be maintained.

The division is working out the final details on the X.400 connections.

"OUR challenge is directory synchronization," King says. "WE're waiting for X.500."

In just a few short months, Credit Data Division's Technology Services division has enjoyed success of its new E-mail system.

The cost savings on the system alone are striking. SYSM with both the fax and Esy-Link options costs less than $40,000, with an annual maintenance fee of $5700.

King has turned her responsibilities over to an implementation team, which is offering training in the system.

They are using two-hour demonstration classes with transparecies and handouts to teach SYSM.

King says everyone so far has been able to learn the system easily. "Our audience has been CICS users, and they're very used to the mainframe environment."
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:electronic mail
Publication:Communications News
Date:Aug 1, 1990
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