Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Where did you go wrong?

Ever wonder why companies move to Exchange or Gmail for email? I often ponder this as well. I also deal with it weekly, sometimes too late in the game to save the poor souls.

I can understand the feeling that "it's just email", which we all know is not the way to keep a company on Domino. If they really only use it for email, they will leave Lotus eventually. Shame on me, you, IBM and others for not encouraging more workflow and application solutions in their earlier days of the network.

Maybe it stems from politics. A new CIO,or more likely a new CEO. They want "Outlook". Notice they never say "Exchange". DAMO (Domino Access for Microsoft Outlook) allows for your users to have Outlook and run a superior server on the back end....Domino. The CXO will never know. Yet rarely does this get done.

The admin left, got fired, the server is in the middle of nowhere and thus it is difficult to find a Domino admin. A lame excuse if I ever heard one, yet also commonly put out as a reason for dropping Domino. If you are reading this and this is your predicament, call me NOW! Because of a similar situation we have hired 3 people around the country to cover these types of situations.

Server crashes all the time. I don't think so. Not if you have set it up properly, maintained it properly and of course cluster it which would mean you have 100% uptime.

The Client crashes all the time. Not on every one's machine. Just like Windows, Java or any other program if you have a problem, fix it. When your car gets a flat tire, do you trade it in for a new car? Again, if this sounds like you, call me NOW!

The UI is ancient. Really? So a tabbed interface is ancient? which is why Microsoft and Apple and Firefox use it? Show me another mail client you can manipulate what you see and move things around, not to mention dock or undock pieces and parts to anyplace on your desktop. Sorry that is the R8/8.5 UI. You probably have an R5 or R6 or R7 client which your IT staff has failed to upgrade in years and thus you are stuck in an old client.

And Outlook 2003, going on 6 years old now, is really new, isn't it.

Yes, if this is the case call NOW and we will help you, against your IT staff's wishes move to R8. Hang on, you can do it for yourself, go download it from IBM's Lotus site.

"Sharepoint is our strategic direction". Excuse me while I fall on the floor laughing. I had someone recently give me that line and I asked if they could elaborate on what that meant or quantify it in a value and ROI way. Received a nasty look and they walked away. Next time I should not ask about the ROI I guess.

What should you be doing more regularly with your customers, especially the ones only using Domino for email?

Talk to your clients, but listen once you have them in a discussion and let them lead you more to a solution they envision which will be much easier to "sell" to them afterward.

Show them. Try pointing them to an app on your website, encourage dialogue to find how an application can fit into their world. Xpages apps, even simple ones will go far.

Communicate with them. Send them links to and ask them what they want to try to use.

Show them again, and your favorite developers blog posts.

If you really get stuck, skip over your contact and go for the CXO directly so they can't say no one ever tried to talk to them or show them what is out there for them. After all you have nothing to lose at this point.


  1. I too have a client that is a "Microsoft Shop" due to a culture change instituted by a CIO that is no longer with the company. This culture change has continued - the company just rolled out their new "intranet" built on SharePoint and it's absolutely hideous.

    If I had a dollar for every time I told my boss "we can do it in Notes", I'd be rich and the company would have saved a good chunk of change.

  2. @mike, yes,, the bungee CIO, now you see him now you don't. I think Scott Adams and Dilbert invented them.

  3. Microsoft have a way of bringing 80% of the solution out of the box, which, for an SMB can be enough to make a significant enough impact that they can overlook the other flaws in the system.
    For example, Sharepoint has a workable project management tool, including gantt charts. The team/project template in Domino has gone through almost no change since version 6, and people *like* to see charts.
    In small businesses the end users have a bigger say in which tools they want to use. The more motivated employees will research and try new tools, but only if they can fit it in while they are doing their *real* job. If they see that they can get ahead then they will demand these tools and IT will give it to them because - it's simple to install, the end users know how to use it and they *want* to use it (that's 2/3 of the fight in getting the tool used at all).

    They will run into issues of security and such, but the *real* work is getting done.

    Once IBM continue to push email as the primary end user application, they will always be faced with the possible replacement of Domino/Lotus because "it's only email".

  4. @wayne IBM stopped pushing email as the primary reason to use Domino. It has however not pushed enough on other uses, from a LDAP platform to a RAD application platform.
    Or even a workflow collaboration tool.
    Sadly IBM and marketing aim at a loftier site than you and I see.
    But that is a whole other blog post.

  5. I began to tell people that mail is in fact just a Notes application. Some people realize that Notes is more than just email when I say that, but the reaction i get the most often is "Oh...", and that's it.

    I think Sharepoint is what is "a la page", the flavor of the month, and many companies/IT VPs go with it because, well, that's all you hear these days.

    I am in a market that has been shrinking for many years and I often get in to companies when the move to Exchange has started. Right now, my job is to write functional specs so we can convert a nice Notes apps into the .Net world. Really sad, but I couldn't do anything to convince them: political decision to get rid of Notes.

    What a shame

  6. I like the way you can easily have different PIM apps open in Notes. You can get something similar with Outlook, but it's more convoluted. And I'm looking forward to working with 8.5.1, which looks like it will finally deliver what was promised way back with 8.0.

    But Keith (and you knew this was coming), do you seriously not have any issues with Domino Designer 8.x crashing or hanging? I've used every build from 8.0 beta 2 through 8.5 gold and they all crash or hang at least once every couple of days. I've tried everything from clean builds of XP SP1/2/3 to Windows 7 RC1.

    I know I'm not the only one, either. My friend Ninke has been posting the weird error messages he gets in Notes 8 Standard. It doesn't inspire confidence in build quality. The admins and developers I know consider every release of 8 thus far to be beta.

    I have tried DAMO and it's just flaky. You have to license the Notes client AND Outlook so it gets expensive, too. You might as well just use Exchange, because the reality is that for e-mail Domino is no better than Exchange. Domino does more, yes, but if all you need is e-mail you might as well use Exchange (or postfix/sendmail).

    Outlook 2003 is old, but so is Notes 6. You took a jab at an old version of Outlook in the same breath you blast people for doing the same with Notes. It's just a touch hypocritical. :-)

    As far as I'm concerned what went wrong was R8. IBM fumbled the client in a big way, but at least there was Notes 8 Basic to fall back on. When they started botching Domino this started smelling like R5 all over again.

  7. @benoit, Yes a shame and I understand, business is business and a job is a job. My goal was to try to help people before they find themselves in your predicament or some of mine.

    @charles, i'm not a developer so I probably rarely get as deep as you to find issues with designer. Remember end users never use Designer so that is not a reason for not upgrading.

    I like 8.5 over 8.0x and so do my clients and others who were thinking of leaving the Lotus platform.

    As to the age issue, at least someone COULD update to R8.5 or R7 even compared to being stuck with Outlook 2003, but to go to Outlook 2007 you must update Office to 2007 which not everyone wants either.

    I was pointing a way to upgrade is feasible without an OS or Office revision. Hypocritical, no, poorly worded, perhaps.