IMAP and a group email

#1
One of my clients is interested in testing something that I pretty much brainstormed up, but I'm hoping to get some additional insight from anyone reading this.

Right now, the client has a primary mail account into which emails flow from their online store, a separate dealer ordering system, and general emails to their sales department.

From there, the emails are then forwarded on to the individuals making up the sales department.

However, in some cases, someone might process a web order, and then someone else who sees it show up in their mailbox on their next mail check (ranges from 3 minutes later to 15 minutes later, and then they try processing the same order.

My thought was to allow the sales department to simply access the primary email account in WebMail mode, which would put everyone on the same page, as it were. Each rep would see the same emails at the same time.

In my head, it makes perfect sense. However, is this technically viable on my dedicated server? For example, I read that Gmail has a hardlock of 15 simultaneous logins. But then they are dealing with millions of emails, and my client is not even a blip on the radar by comparison.

Still, is there an existing how-to for configuring EXIM to allow for maybe 10 or so people being logged into webmail for the primary email account?

This would eliminate the need for forwarding emails, of course, and then relying on each individual's computer doing a re-scan or new email check every short while.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommendations!

--Timothy Kline
 

phpAddict

Active Member
#2
If you're using WebMail you wouldn't at all be limited by the number of users logged in at the same time accessing the same email account. You'd only be limited by server resources and that'd be pretty hard to max out with just WebMail. However, you would still run into the same issue, because even WebMail doesn't instantly update, you have to set how often it refreshes (in roundcube it's Settings -> Preferences -> User Interface -> Refresh). The lowest refresh rate is 1 minute so you'd likely still run into the same problem if someone accessed an email still showing as unread before WebMail refreshed.

Ideally, I would recommend them accessing a back-end that they could update and limit it to 1 person, but if that's not easily accomplished or feasible I have a couple other "free" alternatives...

You could set everyone up using POP and make sure emails are set to NOT be saved on the server. This way as soon as one person downloads the email, no one else will have the opportunity to get a duplicate email. Set each station to download emails every 15 minutes (or however often you like). Joe gets an order, Jane won't get that order. Jane gets an order, Joe won't get it. The only problem in this scenario is say Joe opened his email client at 8:00am and Jane opened hers at 8:01am, since the email is scheduled to download every 15 minutes, Joe would get orders 15 minutes later at 8:15am which would pull all the emails off the server, then Jane would only get orders from 8:15am-8:16am, so Jane would unlikely get many orders and Joe would get the bulk of them.

Alternatively, for another free solution, they should change their process. When I worked in a small tech support department, before they had a management system in place, users would email a generic account (i.e. support@helpmeplease.com) which would forward to me and 7 other technicians. No one could take that job without replying to everyone else in the department with the subject prepended with "GOT IT". That would inform everyone else in the department that I would be the one handling this ticket. There were times where multiple people would reply to it at the same time, but we always did a send/receive after sending out the "GOT IT" email to make sure of who responded to it first. Certainly wasn't an ideal solution, but it got the job done and we never had issues with multiple people handling the same job.
 

phpAddict

Active Member
#3
To expand a little on that POP option, they would all need to access a single email account for it to work the way I described. Forwarding to multiple email accounts wouldn't work. If you also want to maintain copies of all emails have orders@yourdomain.com receive all the emails from the site and no one access this account for fulfilling orders, so no emails would ever be deleted from that orders account. Have that orders email account forward to another email account like fulfillment@yourdomain.com and that be the one everyone accesses and distribute messages/deleted off the server. You'll have all emails stored in orders@yourdomain.com and Jane and Joe will each pull different emails off of the fulfillment@yourdomain.com. There is possibly a very small window of time where duplicates could occur, if Jane and Joe downloaded messages at the exact same time (nearly to the second) before their email client deleted them off the server after downloading them.

If I confused you like I did myself, let me know and I'll list it in steps. :D
 
#4
Those was some great and muchly-welcomed suggestions, @phpAddict!

Already discussed these options with the client and they will be letting me know how they would like to proceed.

Thanks, too, to Roman in Tech Support for his suggestions!

Keep up the good!
--Tim
 
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