Directors’ Briefing
• Attaching files is a good way of transferring
important information.
2 Getting email
There are several ways your business can
implement email.
2.1Use a free free online email service.
• Online email services are accessed through
a standard web browser (like Microsoft
Internet Explorer).
• Popular online email services include
Google Mail (, Yahoo! Mail
( and Microsoft Hotmail
Email and the law
A When you send an email, you are liable
for its content.
• If your employees make libellous
remarks in a private email (or a
newsgroup posting), you could face
legal action.
• Emails can be retrieved from the system
long after they have been deleted.
B It is a good idea to add a disclaimer to
your emails.
• These usually state that information in
your emails is confidential. The legal
standing of email disclaimers is debated,
but they may deter lawsuits relating to
your emails and will provide evidence of
your good practice in this area.
C There are regulations dealing with an
employer’s right to monitor employees’
emails, faxes and phone calls.
• Generally, you can monitor email traffic.
• You can inspect individual emails for
‘specific business purposes’. (See
Website and email law.)
D The use of email for marketing is the
focus of increasing regulation.
All unsolicited commercial emails must
be clearly identified as such.
You cannot send marketing emails to
consumers, unincorporated partnerships
and sole traders without their prior
consent — unless their email address
was collected in the course of a previous
sale or sale negotiation,
• Using a free address can look
You are almost certainly better off
purchasing email addresses to use with
your domain name (see 2.2).
2.2Purchase mailboxes from your web host.
• If your business does not have a network
server, this is probably the best way to get
email for your company.
• The company which hosts your website
should be able to supply email addresses
These are often called mailboxes.
• To look professional, ensure your email
addresses end in your company domain
For instance, each member of staff could
have firstname.lastname@companyname.
• Mailboxes can cost as little as £1 a month,
but they are often included when you buy
space for your business website.
See Your website strategy.
2.3Use your network server to set up and
manage email addresses within your
• If your business has a network server, this
is probably the best way to get email for
your company.
It allows you to manage all company email
• Your network server acts as a mail server,
storing all emails coming in to your
• Each employee then connects to the server
to send and receive their emails.
• You will need to install mail server software
onto your network server.
• Setting up a mail server is a complex task.
Your IT supplier or a consultant can help
if you lack the necessary experience in
2.4There are some key points to check when
purchasing mailboxes or setting up your
• Make sure you have spam protection
Without this, your mailboxes will quickly fill
with junk email.
• You should also scan all messages for
security threats like viruses.
See IT security.
• Ensure each mailbox is big enough to hold
a number of messages (50MB or more).
Cheaper email services commonly offer
smaller mailboxes.
Not enough time
is the number
one enemy of the
business owner.
Make sure you
make good use of
IT and software so
that you can work
as efficiently as
Sean McPheat,
MTD Sales
Directors’ Briefing
• Make sure you can log in and access
emails over the web.
This is called webmail and can be
invaluable when out of the office.
3 Email management, security and privacy
There are a number of management, security
and privacy issues you should be aware of
when using email in your business.
covering the forwarding of messages with
questionable content.
• Set up and enforce an email policy.
See An email policy for your employees.
4 Shared calendars
4.1Shared calendars make it easier to arrange
meetings and plan ahead.
• The risk is small, but you should use
encryption to scramble sensitive data
before you send it by email.
• Many email packages allow you to encrypt
• Never ask customers to send sensitive
details (like credit card numbers) by email.
• A shared calendar system gives everyone in
your business an online diary.
• Each of your employees can record their
appointments in their calendar, just like a
normal diary.
• However, because the calendars are
shared, everyone in your business can see
when their colleagues are busy or free.
• This makes booking meetings much easier,
because there is no need to confirm with
each person.
• Meeting requests can simply be sent and
accepted or declined by email.
3.2Email is a common source of computer
virus infections.
4.2You can run a shared calendar on your
network server.
• You should scan all incoming and outgoing
emails for security threats.
• Be particularly wary of emails with
attachments, if the attachment was
Do not open suspect attachments.
• See IT security.
• Most shared calendar systems come as
part of a complete mail solution.
• The most common shared calendar system
for network servers is Microsoft Exchange.
• Other systems are available too, including
IBM Lotus Notes and Zimbra.
• Your IT administrator or supplier will need to
set up these systems.
3.1Emails are usually sent across the Internet
in plain text. This means they could be
intercepted and read.
3.3Although it is an excellent communication
medium, email can be a distraction.
• Make sure employees do not feel they have
to reply to every email as soon as it arrives.
• Encourage employees to close down
their email software when they have an
important task to complete.
• If there is a long or complex message that
needs investigation before you can give a
proper answer, do not just leave it.
Take a few seconds to acknowledge
receipt and let the sender know you will
reply as soon as possible.
3.4Employees may use the email you provide
for personal or inappropriate messages.
• Set clear boundaries for what level of
personal use is acceptable.
For instance, you may permit employees to
send personal messages when they are on
• Some emails contain objectionable content
which could offend members of staff.
Make sure you have clear guidelines
4.3Alternatively, you can use an online
calendar service. This option is ideal if you
do not have a server in your business.
• Free calendar services such as Google
Calendar are available.
They are generally accessed through a web
browser like Microsoft Internet Explorer.
• Alternatively, you can subscribe to a shared
calendar service.
The company which hosts your website
may be able to provide this.
• Subscription shared calendars are generally
paid for monthly.
The price depends on the number of users
you have.
• With a subscription service, all your diary
information is hosted on servers owned by
another company.
You pay them to access your calendars
across the Internet.
• The most common subscription shared
calendar is Microsoft Hosted Exchange.
The calendar usually comes as part of a
complete hosted email service, which is
Directors’ Briefing
charged monthly, per user.
4.4Although shared calendars are very
efficient, switching to them can be difficult
at first.
• Your employees may find it hard to adjust
to recording appointments on the computer
instead of in a traditional diary.
• People may be nervous of making the
schedules more public.
Most calendars have a ‘private
appointment’ option for personal
5 Instant messaging
5.1Instant messaging (IM) systems allow you
to hold real-time conversations online.
• Each person using the system can log in
and show themselves as available or busy.
• Everyone has a contact list of other people
on the system they know.
• Conversations are usually conducted by
typing messages into a window on the
• Messages are sent instantly.
Some systems also allow you to hold audio
and video conversations too.
• Some of your employees may already use
IM for personal communication.
If you use the same system in your
business, it may be hard to tell the
difference between personal and business
use. See 6.
• IM can be disruptive, interrupting
employees with trivial questions while they
are trying to concentrate.
You can avoid this to some extent with
the software’s ‘busy’ or ‘do not disturb’
• Audio and video conversations use
considerable bandwidth which could clog
your network.
6 Management and business
Further help
There are other
Directors’ Briefing
titles that can help
you. These briefings
are referred to in the
text by name, such
as Setting up a basic
IT system.
6.1Personal use of business communication
systems can be a real problem.
• Ensure your employees understand when
personal use is acceptable.
• For instance, you may allow personal use of
email and IM systems during breaks only.
6.2Security is another key issue.
• Some IM systems work over the Internet.
These include Skype, Yahoo! Messenger
and Microsoft Live Messenger and are
generally free.
• Other systems can be installed on your
network for internal use.
These include Jabber (also available as
an online service), Lotus Sametime and
Microsoft Office Communicator. You may
have to purchase these solutions.
• If you intend to install an internal IM system,
you will need a network server.
• Most communication systems like email
and IM are not guaranteed to be secure.
• You should ensure your employees
understand that sensitive information
should never be sent unencrypted.
• See IT security.
• IM software allows your staff to get answers
to simple questions quickly.
• It is an excellent way of keeping in touch
with staff who are offsite.
• You may even be able to use IM software
as a customer service tool.
For instance, you could offer online chat as
an alternative to a telephone helpline.
Thanks to Sean
McPheat (managing
director, MTD Sales
and Training, 0800
849 6732).
When you adopt new communication tools into
your business, it is important you communicate
how they are to be used.
5.2IM systems are widely available.
5.3Your company can see a number of
benefits from using IM software.
6.3There may be situations where you feel
use of certain communication systems is
• For instance, it may not be acceptable for
employees to use email to tell their line
manager that they are on sick leave.
• You should communicate any such
situations clearly to your employees,
through training and business policies.
6.4Make sure any new communication
systems are fully covered by your
company’s guidelines and policies.
• See An Internet policy for your employees
and An email policy for you employees.
5.4However, you need to carefully consider
which IM system you use and how you
implement it.
Published by BHP Information Solutions Ltd, Althorp House, 4-6 Althorp Road, London SW17 7ED
Tel: 020 8672 6844,
© BHP Information
Solutions Ltd 2009.
ISSN 1369-1996. All
rights reserved. No
part of this publication
may be reproduced or
transmitted without the
written permission of the
publisher. This publication
is for general guidance
only. The publisher, expert
contributors and distributor
disclaim all liability for
any errors or omissions.
Consult your local business
support organisation or your
professional adviser for help
and advice.