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An Inside Look at the Switch to Outlook

Last July, Information Technology (IT) changed from the previous e-mail system, GroupWise, to Outlook, a program run by Windows Live. Pat Schoknecht, chief information officer of IT, and Troy Thomason, manager of communication systems, sat down to explain why Rollins made the switch.

“The campus was unhappy with the performance of GroupWise… a search committee made the final recommendation that we choose Outlook,” Schoknecht said. Thomason added, “There were problems with the soft ware… it was becoming a great drain on us and the customers… Group- Wise had to go.” IT and the committee compared GroupWise, Gmail, and Outlook; they ultimately chose Outlook. “It is the primary e-mail system used in business,” Schoknecht explained, also saying that, unlike Gmail, Outlook was created as a business tool.

They worked hard to make the transition across campus as smooth as possible for everyone. “We worked closely with Microsoft to solve the spam problem,” Thomason said. “We also have more flexibility [with Outlook] to move things around.”

While IT seems satisfied with Outlook’s performance thus far, how do the students feel? “It’s easy, but sometimes teachers don’t get your e-mails, which is frustrating, or their emails come to your spam,” Dilsia Fernandez ’14 commented. However, she also added: “I like how if you’re already on Outlook and you get a notification, it goes straight through and shows the message.”

Schoknecht and Thomason were shocked to hear that students and faculty still have complaints about Outlook. They were under the impression that the spam problems and other difficulties from last semester had been resolved.

“One of our biggest problems is people letting us know they have an issue.” Thomason emphasized that IT generally has no clue that there is a problem until someone tells them and, obviously, if no one says anything then that problem will only continue.

“They just need to call us when there’s a problem.” So, it seems that Outlook is here to stay. Rollins has only been using it for six months, which, according to IT, is not enough time to deduce if the problems people experience are permanent or not. For the time being, the best those disgruntled users can do is tell IT the issues they have been experiencing and hope that their outlook will improve.

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