OUTLOOK / OFFICE 365 DEPLOYMENT SOFTWARE - PROCESS OVERVIEW
Our “Outlook / Office 365 Deployment Software” (for Outlook 2007, 2010, 2103, 2016 and Office 365) is a workstation-based software application that:
- Completes the initial installation of the “new” email signature for the user.
- Checks our cloud-based signature portal on a routine basis for any updates to the user’s email signature.
- If an update is found, downloads it and sets it as the default signature for the user.
- Resets the user’s default signature to the required standard at least once every 24 hours.
The result is well enforced compliance coupled with automated installation (and updating) of the email signatures generated through the DigiTechBRANDING online service.
ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The web-page you’re looking at skips over the essential steps of creating the email signatures. Here’s an overview of our design & HTML coding process, and here’s an overview and live demonstration of our online management portal.
SYNCHRONIZATION BETWEEN OUR PORTAL AND OUTLOOK
After accomplishing its initial task of installing and locking the user’s signature, the Outlook Deployment Software runs in the background for the sole purpose of periodically checking for updates to the user’s signature. It does this by querying our server on a schedule and looking to see if the user’s signature has been updated since the last successful download of the signature. In most cases the result will be no change / no download. However, when a change has occurred to the user’s signature it will be downloaded and will replace the current default signature.
There are two scenarios where the user’s signature will have changed:
- The user (or designated administrator at your firm) has used the signature management portal to make a change to their signature (adding a cell phone number, changing their title, etc.)
- Upon request, we have made a global change to the signatures (adding a trade show annoncment, changing the office address for all Dallas employees, etc.)
Updates occur with no user input required, and are non-disruptive as the downloaded signature files are no more than 6k.
REMOTE DEPLOYMENT VIA GROUP POLICY, MS SCCM, ZENWORKS, SYMANTEC ENDPOINT MANAGEMENT PORTAL
The Administrative version of our software is designed for push deployment via tools like Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (MS SCCM) or third party tools, such as ZenWorks or Symantec Endpoint Management Portal.
Once deployed to a user’s workstation, our software will do nothing (when installed in admin mode) if the user has not yet created an email signature using our portal. However, once they use the portal to create their signature, the Outlook Deployment Software will:
- Discover their signature.
- Install it into Outlook.
- Set it as their default.
This results in the following efficient email signature deployment workflow:
- You use MS SCCM (or comparable) to push the Outlook Deployment Software out to workstations.
- You direct your users to visit the email signature portal we’ve created for you so that they may create their signature.
- After they’ve filled out the form and clicked “Finish”, the closing screen on our portal will inform them that their signature will be automatically installed within the next 6 hours.
Any future update to their signature that they make, or that is made by someone else in your firm for them (Marketing / HR) will be automatically applied, as will any global updates we are asked to make to all the signatures (such as the addition of a new social media site, logo revision, special announcement, etc.)
Modifications by us can apply to all of your signatures, or to just a particular location, for instance, if an office is moving we can add an announcement before and after the move so that people will be aware of this.
KEY FEATURE #1 - ENCOURAGED / ENFORCED COMPLIANCE
Upon completion of the Outlook Deployment Tool software installation, the user’s default signature will be automatically reset to the standardized signature at least once a day, making it difficult and impractical for them to use a non-approved signature over the long term. Any lasting updates that the user needs to make to their signature will have be done through our portal, thus ensuring continued compliance with your corporate standards.
KEY FEATURE #2 - DATA MANAGEMENT WHERE IT BELONGS - WITH USERS (OR HUMAN RESOURCES)
If you fill out a data entry form for yourself - name, title, address, email, phone number, etc. - it’s easy. If you’re asked to fill it out for someone else - spouse, sibling, coworker - it’s suddenly much harder. People know their own contact information! Asking them to type it in for the purposes of creating their email signature is not an excessive request - it’s a smart one.
Virtually all other enterprise email signature services rely on Active Directory to populate the email signatures. Even if your Active Directory is perfectly maintained this approach often falls short. Why? Because a good email signature program is likely to request some user information that is not in AD:
- Personal LinkedIn URL
- Executive Management or Attorney “Bio” * URL from the company website
- Professional Credentials etc.
As soon as one data element is missing from AD, the efficiencies of synchronizing with Active Directory for signature data have largely evaporated - if you need manual input by the user for one thing, it’s not much more to ask them to manually type in the other data elements. Furthermore, once you’ve become willing to think beyond Active Directory, many restrictions as to what can be contained in your email signature are lifted. Our goal in establishing our service was to never have to say no to any email signature content request, and to date we’ve managed to achieve this.
We do understand that some companies do not want to entrust the content of email signatures directly to employees (generally we hear concerns over people inaccurately stating their titles). In this case we’ll generally recommend that the link to the email signature not be released to employees, and that the HR department manages the signatures via this two step approach:
- Provide us with a spreadsheet containing user data and we’ll upload it to create the large initial batch of signatures for all employees (saving the vast majority of the data enty requirements).
- Manually edit these signatures as needed, and add new-hires manually as they come on board.
Keeping email signatures current and active is one of the largest hassles of any email signature program - our approach is efficient, intelligent, and keeps it simple!
KEY FEATURE #3 - FULL SERVICE CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT
Over the years we’ve managed the email signature campaigns for many of our clients. We’re in the best position to do so because we have written the email signature HTML, and thus know how to modify it. All that’s required is for you to send us by email any kind of reasonable mock-up or other instructions as to what you want, and when, and we’ll put it in place for you, let you preview it, and upon approval, update your signatures to reflect the new campaign.
KEY FEATURE #4 - LACK OF EXTRANEOUS / COMPLICATING FEATURES
Our “Experience-Based” Philosophy: As one of the orignial companies working in the area of email signatures (since 1999) we’ve seen technical changes, competitors come and go, but mostly we’ve seen how companies really use email signatures and the problems they often face in doing so.
NOT INCLUDED: The service we offer is as noteworthy for what it includes as for what it doesn’t include:
- Analytics Dashboard - Not included because email signatures are not expensive and they’re intuitively important, thus their use does not need to be validated. Furthermore, they are not the equivelent of email marketing - they’re just a useful, professional, introduction - there’s nothing of any consequence to measure.
- WYSIWYG Signature Editor - Not included because the best editor is always worse than a highly skilled professional coder. Creating the editor is hard, and using it successfully is hard. Turning your project over to a full-time email signature professional is easy and smart.
- Campaign Scheduling - Not included because based on 16 years of practical experience it isn’t important. At most our clients have three or four major trade show appearences throughtout the year that they want to announce in their email signatures. We’ll take care of this for you on your schedule and with with zero hassle.
- Active Directory Sync - Not included because AD isn’t always kept current, complete, and accurate. Given an easily accessible data management tool, like our online portal, users (or your HR department) are actually great at getting (and keeping) the information in their signature correct.
If you want want one or more more of these features, there are other good email signature software options on the market.