Outlook 2010 Dramatically Increases End-User Productivity

Microsoft recently unveiled the Technology Preview of Microsoft Outlook 2010, which includes a number of new technologies that dramatically increase end-user productivity. We will highlight three of our favorite features, namely Quick Steps, Clean Up, and Paste Options.

Outlook “Quick Steps” can be accessed from a Quick Access Toolbar that sits at the top of the main Outlook 2010 workspace. Default Quick Steps in the Technology Preview (which may change in the final shipping version of Outlook 2010) include “To Manager,” “Forward: FYI,” “Meeting Reply,” “Team E-Mail: Reply & Delete,” and “Team Meeting.” Users can also create their own Quick Steps; for example, “Move to PST” or “Ignore Conversation.” So you can create a one-click rule in order to opt out of any conversation thread that you don’t care to get in your inbox, and either have those automatically moved to the Deleted Items folder, or have them moved to another folder or a PST. Being able to triage email faster, and in bulk, provides a substantial productivity boost to the typical knowledge worker who is spending hours every day sifting through email.

Outlook 2010 also includes a “Clean Up” feature that will automatically triage any redundant copies of messages in a conversation thread. For example, if there have been 15 emails in a particular thread, most of these emails will be represented in the last email in the thread, so all of the original messages can be cleaned up–either by deletion, archival, or other action as defined by the end user. In some ways this is similar to the old thread compressor add-in. In environments that are particularly chatty, Clean Up can cut down the email in a particular inbox by between 25% and 50%, reducing the number of clicks spent triaging email, and ultimately reducing the amount of time a user needs to spend cleaning up his or her inbox.

Finally, Outlook 2010 inherits a feature of Office 2010 called “Paste Options.” Simply put, Paste Options allow you to define how “Paste” will function in various applications. Historically, copying and pasting into Outlook has not provided much control over the format of the copied data. Copying from a Web site into an email message, for example, generally resulted in inconsistent formatting in the email, which needed to be cleaned up. Similar issues arose when copying from another email or from an Office document. The net result was time wasted editing emails prior to sending, just to ensure that font size and types were consistent throughout. Paste Options allow you to choose from several predefined options, namely:

  • Keep Source Formatting
  • Merge Formatting
  • Keep Text Only

Any one of these can further be set as the default paste action:

  • Within the same email
  • Pasting between emails
  • Pasting between emails when style definitions conflict
  • Pasting from other programs

Users can even set default paste actions for pictures (e.g., paste in line with text, in front of text, behind text, etc.) Paste Options functionality, then, results in substantial time savings for end users who do a lot of copy and pasting into email.

We find that Outlook 2010 provides over 10% increased efficiency in time spent in email. Taken across a company of any size, and set against the inordinate amount of time the average worker spends in email, Outlook’s productivity enhancements may well represent the most compelling return on investment inherent in all of Microsoft Office 2010.

David Sengupta

One Comment

  1. Posted October 16, 2009 at 4:48 PM | Permalink

    In your example of 2010 Quick Steps you say that users can also create their own Quick Steps; for example, “Move to PST” ….

    Good grief – I would have hoped that we could have moved away from P(e)STs by now.

    Is it right that PSTs remain the only way users can have offline access to emails if they don’t deploy 3rd party archiving products that offer offline access along with 2010….?

  2. Tom Caldwell
    Posted October 16, 2009 at 7:06 PM | Permalink

    It sounds great for power users or those already familiar with the post XP-2003 interface changes..however I have to agree about PST. Its obese compared to groupwise client storage of similar messages, and its not dynamic at all making it cumbersome to backup/migrate/take mobile when it gets to 4 gig + including sent and archives. Why not a differential backup with pw protected mobility to load anywhere as office needs become more “access anywhere/anytime”? I still believe that SOA is better and more trusted than cloud based connectivity or security, which a mobile “PST” would allow for. Just some random throughts on what would be useful for entrenched users instead of trying to sell them a new wheel [office mobile/live]

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