Need a bit of education on how Outlook works please

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EdNerd

Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2007
Email Account
Exchange Server
I have a "grand scheme" idea that if ti works will save us much time and effort here at work. Unfortunately, I think there may be some flies in the ointment due to our corporate IT requirements. If I can't find a way to work with, through, or around them, this may not work at all. But I don't understand enough about how Outlook works to know which direction to head next.

Currently, we scan 100-250 files a day and save them to various directories on our network of servers. It's mostly two or three people doing all the scanning, which creates a huge bottleneck. We have a new system of scanners coming on line that will scan directly to our email address (Outlook with an Exchange server). My thought was that the individuals creating the files could scan them to their own email, and then forward them to a mailbox account set up just to receive these scans. At that point, a rule and a macro can save the attachment out to the proper server directory (based on the attachment filename and/or text in the body of the email). Automated like this, it would save lots of time and free up people to work in their actual job description.

I have test this on my own individual computer and it works. I sent myself an email that matched the criteria in my rule, and it fired a macro that saved the attachment to the correct directory. That's good for me - but I'm not sure if it will work in a wider implementation. Here's why I say that:

(1) We must use a "Computer Systems Access Smart Card" to log into any computer. Pulling the card out of the reader automatically locks the machine. And periodically the Exchange Server will poll our machines and make us re-input our password before it refreshes the Send/Receive. Plus, the Admin scripts force a restart of every system on the network every night. All of this means that no one is here after the restart to log into the machine with a card and keep it refreshed while these files get sent. I guess that's okay, as long as we all understand that the files will not be available on the servers until someone shows up for work and logs into that computer.

(2) By IT policy (which is set in stone and will not move - period!!), macros are initially disabled unless specifically enabled. I live by VBA macros in Word, Excel, and Access - not so much yet in Outlook, but I'm getting there! - so every time I start up one of these programs, I'm presented with a security warning and must choose to enable macros, or nothing runs. Again, that's okay as long as everyone is willing to wait for an indiviual to log into their workstation so the rule and macro will process the attachments.

(3) If we set up a multi-person mailbox, every person on the distribution will get all of these emails, yes? Which means every person on the distribution must have the same rule and macro to process these attachments, yes? Which means that we will get multiple copies of the attchment on the server - one for every person, yes? Probably put code into the macro that checks for a file of that name and if exists do not save - easy enough to do.

Ideally, I would like to set this up on an unattended computer. If I worked with the SysAdmins to stop the nightly restart so I could (theoretically) let it run all weekend without interruption, would that be a viable part of the solution? Not sure what's causing the intermittant polling - is that an Exchange issue or a SysAdmin issue? Can I create an add-in for Outlook with the macro to distribute to the others on the mailbox list? Would the add-in run the macro if somebody did not enable macros? Can I easily distribute the rule, also? Finally, how hard would it be to, after successfully saving out the attachments, send a response to the mailbox and delete the original email? If it's deleted from the mailbox, does it delete from each individual computer that's part of the distribution?

Any help on these questions is greatly appreciated!!

Ed
 

Diane Poremsky

Senior Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2016 32 bit
Email Account
Office 365 Exchange
Macros only work if the account is open in Outlook. So... it will work as long as someone keeps the mailbox open in their profile.

If multiple people have access to a mailbox, they will see the messages in the mailbox when its in their profile. It's not quite the same as a DL... Unless you do something to mark the messages (or delete them) yes, everyone running the macro will process the messages and you'll have to deal with dupes. I'd probably have one person designated to run the macro to avoid this problem. Move, delete, flag, or add a category to message when the attachment is saved.

Rather than forward to a mailbox for processing, I'd probably have each scanner-person run a macro to save the attachments that land in their mailbox. No need to forward them to another mailbox this way. (If you need them stored in a mailbox, the macro can forward them.)

Do you use SharePoint? This is a perfect problem for SharePoint to solve - you could send the messages to a mail-enabled SharePoint list - which is configured to keep only the attachment. That solves the problem of running a macro and only working during certain hours.
 

EdNerd

Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2007
Email Account
Exchange Server
Thank you, Diane, for the reply.
> >"Macros only work if the account is open in Outlook"

Yeah, that was my big concern, especially with regards to the pushed restart every night.
> >"yes, everyone running the macro will process the messages and you'll have to deal with dupes"

Dupes in the server folder is something I can deal with: just use FSO to check if FileExists; if yes then don't save.

And I can code the macro to delete the message after inspecting the attachment.
> >"I'd probably have each scanner-person run a macro"

That's upwards of 150 people!! And if there's any changes, I'd have to make sure all of them get the update! Much easier to make this an add-in (I assume Outlook does add-ins like Word and Excel - yes??) that only goes to a half-dozen people who are a little higher in the food chain of responsibility.
> >"This is a perfect problem for SharePoint to solve"

We do use SharePoint. And i know even less about that than I do Outlook! So I will investigate this and see if it's an option open to me.

Thank you so much!!

Ed
 

Diane Poremsky

Senior Member
Outlook version
Outlook 2016 32 bit
Email Account
Office 365 Exchange
Yeah, you can compile it into an addin.

While sharepoint would make this easier, it doesn't help if you must keep the files on a file share - but if you can move the documents into sharepoint, it could be a better solution. I don't know if there is a way to automate sharepoint to save the files in the file system - but if so, that could automate the entire process - send everything to sharepoint then sharepoint could run a process hourly to save the files to the file system and remove them from sharepoint.

I didn't look at these articles all that closely, but it looks like you might be able to do something with sharepoint and use the file system. Whether it is worth the time to do it... I'm not sure. I'd use SharePoint myself (actually, already do save files to it), but I'm not moving hundreds of files a day into SharePoint - 5 or 10 a day, max.

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/varun_malho...arepoint-document-library-to-file-system.aspx

https://www.simple-talk.com/dotnet/...-on-the-file-system-with-remote-blob-storage/

http://social.technet.microsoft.com...-filesystem?forum=sharepointdevelopmentlegacy
 
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