How do you GroupWise?

Did I just use GroupWise as a verb? I did! Verb's indicate action and I wanted to make a point that GroupWise is action software. You use it to communicate, organize tasks, keep track of appointments, manage contacts etc... So I am asking, how do you GroupWise?

How you GroupWise is one of the things that is at the top of my list to improve. Ask the engineering team, we are always talking about how you GroupWise and how we can improve your GroupWise experience. One thing I hear over and over when visiting customers is that their end users felt the client is old, no improvements, felt dated etc...  I couldn't understand that. We update the client, add new features, improve functionality with each release. So why was this the perception of GroupWise? My user experience with GroupWise was vastly different from what was being reported to me. Then I started visiting with end users and I saw the problem. So many of our users GroupWise today the same way they would GroupWise with 6.5!

After asking a lot of questions I found there were a lot of reasons for this. Some users were comfortable with it. I get it, change can be difficult. Some users didn't know it could be changed or even that GroupWise had changed! Some administrators didn't want change, that meant help desk calls. I understand that, but in the long run we make the problem worse. Users actually want change and are used to change and if we don't give it to them, they get a negative feeling about the software.

So how many of you GroupWise the same way as you did with GroupWise 6.5? I went and dug up an old screen shot of the client from back in the 6.5 days to make a point.

To give this context, this is a 2003 client. Since then GroupWise 8, 2012, 2014, 2014R2 have all shipped and they all have numerous versions of the client for those releases. Now lets take a look at the default GroupWise 2014 R2 SP2 client.

There are some differences. You can see improvements and changes in the default client. Overall, I get it why end users were complaining. It is largely similar. So how did this happen? Why with so many updates over the years does it appear that the client hasn't changed?

I have a general feeling that we listened more to administrators and less to the end users. We weren't ignoring either side, but we certainly had a better relationship with administrators. I don't want to change that, but I do want to focus on the end user experience. On thing we were told in regards to the client was the equivalent of "Don't move the cheese!" Meaning, don't change the user experience because we don't want the help desk calls. That has backfired to some extent and now users feel like there are no new features in GroupWise, where there are hundreds of them! This feeling is probably creating more headaches and calls and complaints to the help desk then not "Moving the Cheese."

Now we have identified the problem, how do we solve it? Well first I am going to show you how I GroupWise. My client that I use every day looks very different. So I will go through my personal favorite settings. These are things you can do today and start to GroupWise differently. After I show you how I GroupWise, I will talk to you about how we solve this problem in the future.

I am going to demonstrate 5 quick steps to change how you GroupWise. Keep in mind these are personal preference and they may not be for everyone. Take from this what works for you, but I do encourage everyone to try some change. Move that Cheese!

1- I like to change the color scheme. I personally like cooler colors. This is simple to change. Follow these steps:

  • From the Tools menu choose Options

  • Double-click on Environment

  • Click Appearance

  • Under GroupWise Color Schemes - Pick one.   (I like Sky Blue)

  • Choose Ok

This brings a subtle difference, but it works for me:

2- The next thing I like to do is to only display the folder list on the left.  Some people love the favorites and their separate calendar list.  I see the value, I am just telling you what I like.  To remove those from your view, follow these steps:

  • From the Tools menu choose Options

  • Double-click on Environment

  • Click Appearance

  • Under Display Folder List Uncheck:

    • Favorites Folder List

  • Simple Folder List

  • Check the following:

    • Full Folder List

  • Long Folder List

  • Choose OK

I feel that I get more real estate in my client with these settings. I also personally have an extensive list of folders under my cabinet that you aren't seeing in this test system. I like to have my cabinet expanded so I see a list of my many, many folders.

I know I am taking the scenic route here. I do want to show these settings one at a time so individuals can pick and choose what they want to see.

3- I like to change a few settings in the mailbox view. I am going to do a couple of these all in one step. I like to change the sort order, I like to group emails by when they were received, and I like to see a preview. To set this up, follow these steps:

  • In the Mailbox, click on    to sort in descending order

    • This is really a personal preference.  I like new on the top.  Others like a first in/ oldest at the top

  • From the View Menu- Select Display Settings.

  • From Display Settings check/enable

    • Show Group Labels

  • Message Preview

In my opinion this gives you a significant change in the view of GroupWise.

I don't have a lot of email in this demo system, however you can start to see the differences. To me it is no longer just a list of emails. I can see the individual emails better. I get a nice two line preview of the message. They are grouped together from when I received them. I like the newest at the top, especially when grouped together.

We still are not done, I have 2 more things I want to show you.

4- I like to enable the quick viewer. Its simple and easy to do. Follow these steps:

  • From the Tools menu choose Options

  • Double-click on Environment

  • Click Appearance

  • Check Display Quick Viewer and select the option for Quick Viewer at Right

  • Click OK

For me, this setting makes a world of difference. I no longer have to double-click emails to bring them up. I can select them right in the mailbox and quickly read them and more importnatly take action on them.

If you are using photos in your address book you also can see a nice visual photo of who the email is from. This looks great!

5- The last step I will show today is how to change the order of the icons on the toolbar. I try to organize them how I am likely to use them and group them into categories from left to right. Just follow these steps and then look at my end result carefully:

  • Right click somewhere on the Toolbar and choose Customize Toolbar

  • Under Toolbar button style  - Select Picture and text

  • While the Toolbar Properties dialog is up you can rearrange icons on the toolbar

  • Click on any Icon in the toolbar and drag it to the position you would like

    • I like to drag New Mail to be the first Icon on the left, followed by New Appt and New Task

  • If you want to remove an Icon, click it and drag it off the toolbar

    • I always remove the print calendar icon. I find I never print my calendar because I always have it with me on my mobile device.

  • If you want to add an icon, from the properties box select it and drag it onto the toolbar.

    • I like to add the Delete, Reply, Reply All & Forward. I also add the Refresh or Send/Retrieve Icon because I generally run in caching mode

  • When you are done configuring your toolbar, click OK

  • You can even configure the toolbar in the Quick Viewer window.  Right click on that toolbar and choose Customize Toolbar

  • I like to set the Select Picture and text option here as well.

  • Make any other changes you like, when done click OK.

This is what my client looks like after the toolbar changes:

These easy changes make a world of difference in my functionality. Take some time to view the Icons I have on my toolbar, the order and also in the Quick Viewer. Compare it to the screenshot just before I made those changes and note the difference. Now I can take action easily on the items in my mailbox.  I simply select a message and delete, reply, forward etc...  I can do that right from the main mailbox or from the Quick Viewer on the right! Play with it, see how easy it is and just how great it looks and feels. Finally compare this view of the client with the earlier "Default" 14.2.2 client above and tell me how much better that looks and feels!

Hopefully some of you already GroupWise this way, for those of you that don't you can do this today and try it out. Now how do you GroupWise?

We haven't even gotten into all the flagging, alarms, and quick action items. I will have to save those for another post.

One final thing, at the start of this blog I told you there were things you could do today to improve your client experience, I have showed you those. I also mentioned I wanted to address how we solve these in the future.

With the release of GroupWise 18 ("Wasatch").  I have asked the client team to "Move the Cheese."  I want a lot of these settings to be the default settings when updating to the 18 client. I want your support in doing so. I know it can change the client and you can have a learning curve, but our users see that all the time and they need to see the updates and have these features enabled. In the long run it will be better!

In addition to changes to the default client, you will see more user friendly methods of changing settings,  getting previews of your changes before you commit, and changing them back if you decide you don't like them. I will show you those when we get into Beta in the next month or so.

Have any great tips for how to GroupWise? Please share them in the comments section below!


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  • Dear Mike Bills,

    In fact I am one of those administrators you stopped listening to. Heaving read your blogpost last year, my first thought was: 'IT and feelings hardly fit together, I'd prefer IT and facts...'

    We're a small company with approximately 300 GroupWise mailboxes in total of which about 40 of them are Mac users. Roughly 14%. As the old promise given by Novell in the past to deliver a communication system that fits the needs of Windows, Linux and Mac clients was broken for licensing / patent or whatever reasons that are not communicated in the GW community we've now come to the point of no return. You might be surprised, but right now a minority of 14% of our end users is on the way to exchange GroupWise. Our managers tend to ignore 86% and follow the 14% Maccies. It's the Maccies - STUPID. Anyway, that's the fact.

    This illustrates how democracy works in 21st century. Another fact is that 26,4% of the electively citizens in the US voted the POTUS. But that is another story.

    Working in IT business for 29 years now, I can say that it has always been like this: SOHO users are the drivers of enterprise software industry like porn industry was the driver of internet development - not the other way round.

    Thank you for listening a last time.

    Best regards from Germany
  • Joerg,

    I am sorry that I have given the wrong impression. We have not stopped listening to administrators, I spend a lot of time with administrators getting feedback. The addition is that we are spending more time with end users as well and getting their feedback and trying to balance the needs.
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