I'm trying to figure out how to best serve our customers that are switching to Lotus Notes from Microsoft Outlook. When we launched eProductivity, we designed it to be the ultimate productivity application for Lotus Notes users. Our marketing plan didn't include getting people to switch to Lotus Notes from something else. Frankly, I didn't expect anyone would.

I was wrong.

We are learning that people are switching to Lotus Notes in order to use eProductivity, but many of these people have never used Lotus Notes before. The numbers are very small right now, but they are growing.

I should point out that these are individual users, not enterprise deployments. At least not yet. Typically, these are people that learn about David Allen's Getting Things Done® (GTD®) Methodology from a book, web site, seminar, or conference, get hooked on the idea of increasing personal productivity, learn that David Allen uses and recommends Lotus Notes and eProductivity. They then Google for these tools and install them.

Traditionally, Lotus Notes has not been been sold directly to end-users and an end-user wanting to get started or seeking answers can find it challenging, even though IBM has a huge collection of support material. Those that are successful in finding, buying, downloading, and installing Lotus Notes have no problem installing eProductivity, but I frequently hear of people having small questions or problems setting up POP3 or IMAP and Lotus Notes. While I'm thrilled that non-Notes users are finding value in the solution we have to offer, if someone switches to Lotus Notes from Outlook because of my product I want to do what I can to help ensure that their experience with Lotus Notes is a positive one.

I've always thought that Lotus Notes is the ultimate Information Manager, long before GTD and eProductivity came along. At present, Notes is positioned as a solution for IT and enterprises. What I'm seeing is interest from individuals. You can see the obvious gap. This gap represents an opportunity, if IBM can find ways to make this experience easier for new users.

Here's a Tweet thread from this afternoon, between @RapunzelMAP and @unconntam that illustrates this point:
@uconntam Excellent post Tam. I'm having almost same problem. I'm SO excited about eProductivity, everything I ever dreamed of however..
@uconntam I wasn't a Lotus Notes user before, but migrated especially to get 'eProductivity' but can't get Hotmail (POP3) into Lotus Notes..
@uconntam & until I do that, I can't really download the eproductivity template. :oS searched everywhere on the web but realised that..
@uconntam ..this is a bigger issue than I potentially thought. I KNOW that Outlook users etc would migrate [to Lotus Notes] to gain something like eproductivity!

And here's comment (#34) from Ed Brill's recent post: Doing Things Different:
I'm one of those tiny, unimportant, single license Notes users (both on Mac and PC) and I only got excited about Notes because of Eric Mack's eProductivity software. The combination of the two has completely obliterated any thoughts I might have about ever going back to Outlook, Apple Mail & OmniFocus.

My conversation with Eric Mack at the GTD Summit was the best [Lotus Notes] ad I could have ever heard. In 5 minutes, he dispelled every myth I'd had and corrected every wrong impression [about IBM Lotus Notes]...

However, I feel very much alone in the Lotusphere because I have had trouble getting the help I need when I get stuck. All the answers I find seem to come back to: talk to your system admin.(I am the SysAdmin! I don't have an IT department at home. Plus, none of it is Mac-specific.) That's not going to make me change back to my old system, but it has begun to affect my enthusiasm for a product I was completely enamored with about a month ago...

Ed quickly respond to the above post:
@34 Tam, Eric is right, we are not oriented enough to supporting individual end-users. I would like to be able to do something more like the Symphony part of our website ( but we will take some time to get to that. My team is trying to make some short-term website adjustments to help you and others like you.
This is encouraging. I should also add that last week I had an encouraging discussion with Michael Masterson of IBM Lotus about this and I'm hopeful that his tweet will come true  and that he will make it easier for individuals to purchase, download, and install Lotus Notes. But that's only part of the challenge. Since Notes has historically been an enterprise application there are virtually no end-user focused communities for end-users of Lotus Notes that I am aware of (other than our Notes on Productivity forums which are not very active at this time).

I'm delighted to read Ed's response and I believe IBM will adapt, but I don't know how long that will take. I'm not sure what I'm asking here, but I thought I would share the above and then put these two questions to the community to discuss:

1. What does this mean for IBM? Is it a good thing that individuals want to purchase and install Lotus Notes for personal use instead of Outlook, Entourage, or another app? Or, should IBM stay the course and focus on selling to the enterprise and SMB market?

2. What can we in the yellow community do help these people get started? What resources (blogs, web sites, etc.) can we point them to?

Independent from my writing this post, I received a few emails today from people offering ideas. I have written to them to ask them to post their thoughts here or to give me permission to do so.

Discussion/Comments (13):

Jim Casale ( 5/1/2009 4:03:06 AM
How to best serve Notes users switching from Outlook?

Eric, After I read the recent blog posts about individuals not being able to get support for Lotus Notes I said there has to be a way to help these people get the support they need. One idea I came up with was a Wiki site devoted to just those people - End users who are first time users of Lotus Notes. They can read postings or pose questions about Lotus Notes to get the support they are looking for. I am sure there are other Lotus professionals like myself that would volunteer their time to answer questions and provide content.

My other idea was to start a support service that is geared towards the single user/small organization when the Wiki is not enough for their support needs.

Doug Finner (): 5/1/2009 5:09:09 PM
How to best serve Notes users switching from Outlook?

Setting up ANY email client is a non-fun task for the non-techie what with all those smtp, pop3, servers, user names, etc stuff that has to be juuuuust right.

When I get stuck, my first stop is Mr. Google. A search 'how to configure lotus notes for pop3' brought up a ton of step by step instructions.

That said, it seems like it wouldn't take too much (*) for IBM to put together a 'welcome to Notes mail' directions for the new stand alone user. If I was king of the world, the software would come with 30 days free phone/web/chat tech support...but then again, I'm not king of the world.

(*) I know this statement is not totally true. I've done some marketing and understand the total anguish associated with getting the font right...nothing is easy for business.

Mat Newman (): 5/3/2009 11:22:04 PM
How to best serve Notes users switching from Outlook?


What you're saying (writing) is exactly correct, there is little focus on end users, even in corporate deployments. I cannot count the number of times I've been into a site to conduct an "Advanced Notes end user course for our experienced users" and end up going through the basics. I even had one participant in a recent "Power user" session (who worked in the IT department) ask before we broke for lunch "have we finished with the remedial stuff yet?"

Even the forums on (or IBM Lotus developer domain - you choose) are dedicated to administration and developer feed-back, rather than end-user queries, and although end-users often drop by to ask questions, the frequent advice is to "read the help".

My experience with end-users normally comes down to a simple issue. Outlook is an email client and all of the menu's and options are focussed on manipulating/configuring that email environment (albeit with other options for calendar/tasks/contacts/etc). Lotus Notes is a database application, so the menu's and options are focussed on managing databases generically. It's not until you point this out to users and then explain the function of the "Action Bar" within an individual Notes database - where the individual database options are located - that they begin to understand that email within Lotus Notes is just another database, and the options for managing mail aren't necessarily located under the "Tools -> Options" menu choice. Once you open a database other than mail (eg: even a simple discussion or web-site application is normally enough) people begin to "get" the power of Notes.

I recently started working on a project in my spare time to rebut the "issues" posted on - but I can see that this project could easily become more than that (your wiki idea?)

Drop me a line if you'd like to discuss further.

Cheers, Mat

John Rowland ( 5/4/2009 7:06:43 AM
How to best serve Notes users switching from Outlook?


In response to your very good comments, I wanted to share a Ppt presentation we have used that points out some of those nuances in the Notes client experience.

{ Link }

Eric Mack ( 5/4/2009 8:26:15 AM
How to best serve Notes users switching from Outlook?

Excellent points Mat, thanks for posting your presentation, John. I look forward to reviewing. Happy to set up a Skype call to discuss.

Howard Greenberg ( 5/4/2009 10:27:02 AM
How to best serve Notes users switching from Outlook?

Eric, TLCC offers Notes based courses for Notes users on how to use the Notes and iNotes clients. We even have the list of lessons appear in the Notes 8 sidebar so users can quickly navigate to a topic they need at the moment.

{ Link }


RapunzelMAP ( 5/4/2009 12:24:56 PM
How to best serve Notes users switching from Outlook?


I’m the one of the ones you’ve quoted (@RapunzelMAP) from twitter and as you’ve probably gathered from the tweets, completely enamoured with your software eProductivity. I thought it might be useful to post a more detailed overview of my experiences so far on this topic.

This article is on the ball on this issue. There are huge opportunities there & as this is possibly at the beginning stage of what could snowball, it’s essential that big companies such as IBM are informed about this now.

I’m an end user and after watching the demo video of eProductivity I was sold. This was what I hoped would one day be designed. I’ve seen lots of GTD style software but they’ve never seemed to be as seamless and encompass GTD totally.(+ none were approved by David Allen, probably. For this reason)

I’ve been used the GTD approach to getting things done since I discovered the method a few years ago and so bought the book,( & bought the book for others..)

I tried different ways of using the method but anyone aware of the fact that some GTD folk will tweak their system endlessly to find the holy grail of bring everything in their world together. In the end I settled for using list management software on a Palm TX called ‘lifebalance’ and while it def. has its merits it didn’t complete the GTD method for me and eventually ‘fell off the GTD wagon’.

A lot of people can relate to that, & it doesn’t mean the method doesn’t work, but is testimony to the fact that once you ‘get’ GTD you are then only as good as the tools you use to keep it all together. I’ve only ever used web based email. I’ve been stuck with a hotmail account that I’ve used for 10 years and don’t want to change my address at present. I’ve never ported hotmail into outlook.

As a self employed singer songwriter who runs my own websites etc I have to wear lots of different hats & while I have a programmer friend who helps me with some computer issues & has recently designed my fan database,(hope it can synch with lotus notes lol) it’s usually me and Google who solve my problems.

My first problem with Lotus Notes (8.5) was getting my hotmail into it! I did read a ridiculous amount of web pages on this and followed the instructions meticulously. I read that other folk also had had the same problem. After reading a blog, I wrote to a Norwegian self confessed geek for help, he tried but couldn’t solve the issue. Then a lotus notes professional on twitter saw my predicament, sent me a detailed email, even setting himself up a hotmail account to help replicate my problem. I still could not get it to work. I ended up going back to an older version of Lotus Notes, 7. It worked. No idea what was wrong with 8.5 but that didn’t matter, I only wanted Lotus Notes to use eProductivity,so far so good, I could see my mail in Lotus notes.

That done, my next job was to work through the interactive demo of eProductivity. This was plain work through sample emails and tasks to teach you how to GTD in eProductivity.

Which brings me on to the present, I’m on the last but one instruction email in the interactive demo of eProductivity, it requires me to transfer a sample of my email into eProductivity so I can test out the GTDing with my own mail. I followed the instructions but no mail transferred.. I KNOW this is not an eProductivity software problem but something to do with Lotus Notes, (I looked in the help file & from what I’m aware of, it’s possibly to do with my email account in Lotus Notes not being the ‘default’ one. The instructions are to locate the domino designer.. this is where I go.. uh oh what’s that? Where’s that? Or if I can’t find a particular ‘button’. I personally feel awkward asking eProductivity people for help on this, I know they’ve not banked on being software support for the back end/Lotus Notes folks but I’ve put in almost a week of effort on getting this all going (That’s testimony in its self to me seeing the value in eProductivity – there must me millions out there like me who would benefit from this software)& I’m determined to get over these teething problems and just hope that folk can help me familiarise and get over some initial problems.

On the subject of what else Notes can do, I’m looking forward to finding out. I’ve already reviewed the eProductivity database that is a free thank you that is given to you once you download the trial, and already I’ve seen how Lotusnotes will become my central information management system. I am however wondering how I will learn it all. So even though I’m tempted to say ‘imagine if it was a standalone system for non techies like me’, I also see the possibilities of getting to know Lotusnotes properly.

On a side issue, I rang my talented programmer friend as my first port of call on help with Lotus Notes. He’d used it at work a long time ago but said “it’s out dated software” & couldn’t help me. Being an avid reader of all the latest blogs on these issues, I realised that actually it was his view that was possibly outdated’ & quoted what someone had said on one of your other blogs, that you don’t see Lotusnotes in the marketplace and possibly that it’s really only as good as the templates that companies are using with it. I’ve urged him to watch the vid. (He bought the GTD book & a palm PDA when I introduced him to them, so perhaps he’ll convert to this too  )

The last thing I want to point out is that the one person company is a growing trend

& with social networking becoming such an integral part of everyone’s life, the gap between big and small companies is getting smaller in many different ways.

I’m a typical right brained non linear thinker.. I generate more ideas than I have the time to bring to fruition. I’m an information addict.. with a terabyte drive already filled to the brim of word documents and media on countless subjects. I have created chaos at times with just collecting too much ‘stuff’, pulling in different direction and it’s overwhelmed me to the point that my creativity then takes a backstep. Hence GTD.

It is not just the big companies that need information management and good systems, we all do. eProductivity will help everyone from the one person company, busy mums to huge corporations. We all handle more information today then possibly our grandparents handled in an entire lifetime. And it’s all happened so quickly. GTD has caught on because its uses can apply to everyone for everything. My feeling is that a good piece of software like eProductivity will spread like wildfire in the GTD community and beyond and before long there could be tons of folk like me sending out endless help ‘tweets’ feeling so close yet so far to the ‘mind like water’ state a lot of us dream of. I do feel close, hope I’m not too far.. I want to clear up the admin and get on with writing & performing some songs :o) It’s about time. (Feel free to edit this very long message!)

John Rowland ( 5/4/2009 2:43:29 PM
How to best serve Notes users switching from Outlook?

"On the subject of what else Notes can do, I’m looking forward to finding out."


This is yet another fascinating thing about Lotus Notes (at least with versions up through 7) -- with Notes Designer (comes with the install), easily created and easily modified data-driven apps can be developed by YOU the END USER for no extra charge, just your time.

These apps are able to locally store data, media, files, whatever, and have all the "modern" user interface elements, the compute, calculate, discombobulate just like any other computer application. They can be copied to any other Notes client and run locally there. Your friend considers this

outdated. I consider it useful.

This is one of the things that made Notes popular in corporate workgroups before the "IT Admins" took over. Granted, there may have been lots of horrible Notes apps out there in corporations as a result, but Notes gave the grass roots endusers the capability to do this. Still lovin' it 15 years later.

John Rowland ( 5/5/2009 7:01:13 PM
How to best serve Notes users switching from Outlook?


Thanks for having a look at the PPT slides. Most folks just want to be able to "do their job" without unnecessary obstacles. Your business is a testimony that for many workers, it's about productivity, just "give me the tools". We have to find a way not only to do that but to surprise them with things they didn't know they could do. Let's get creative and figure out how to get that done!

John Rowland

Tam (@uconntam on twitter) ( 5/7/2009 7:08:55 AM
How to best serve Notes users switching from Outlook?


While I don't confess to be a complete expert, I'm much more technically savvy than most. My main email issues have stemmed from really odd certificate issues with Gmail (Gmail does NOT support Notes, btw)and a lack of information on how to set up multiple email accounts. I think I have resolved the multiple email issue for my two domain based accounts, but the bulk of my accounts are Gmail.

I've googled to no end and can't find the specific information I'm looking for - it all seems to come back to see your SysAdm. Um, I AM the SysAdm. Plus, everything seems geared towards Enterprise users / Domino. I'm on a Mac and I have no interest in Domino at this point in time, so where do I go from there?

My thoughts, at this point, are if you're not going to support the Mac don't offer the freaking software. If you can't support single users, don't make it possible for us to get the freaking software. I know this is not a perfect world and I understand that the Lotus Notes team can't address every issue, but... Maybe this whole increase in interest comes from the GTD geeks like me and took them off guard, but it's something they need to address. Sooner rather than later or we're going to drive poor Eric and Ed nuts with our requests for support.

I have very simple needs at work and Notes / eProductivity on the PC is more than perfect for me, but my home life is much more complex and I need the system to run as perfectly at home as it does at work. I'm not getting that right now and it's leaving me frustrated.

Could I install the PC version of Notes on my Wintel Mac? Sure. Will that solve my problems? Probably not. In the meantime, I've completely let GTD go at home because I just can't create a trusted system that works for me and I REALLY don't like that.

Is there a way to address my concerns? I don't know. Will one be discovered soon? Doubtful. In the meantime, I have no plans to give up, even though Notes continues to frustrate me beyond belief.

Eric Mack ( 5/7/2009 9:52:53 AM
Here is how to get help with Lotus Notes from IBM

Tamara, I did some research and, according to IBM and Ed Brill's team, you can use the contact information on this page to obtain help.

I hope this helps

Tam (@uconntam on twitter) ( 5/7/2009 10:06:33 AM
How to best serve Notes users switching from Outlook?


Thanks, Eric! (And IBM & Ed!)

JP Liggett PCLP (): 5/12/2009 6:56:11 PM
How to best serve Notes users switching from Outlook?

Configuring notes for POP3,IMAP,SMTP and LDAP can be daunting without any simple step by step procedures. Many ISP's have step by step layouts for outlook. While the ppt file above is a great intro to notes, new users are trying to get it to work. Connecting to their mail server, getting the mail to download and sending mail.

For a quick summary, I'd propose the following:

In order to set up notes for internet mail, you'll create 2 account documents in the personal address book (incoming & outgoing), update your location document and optionally setup a connection to your LDAP directory server.,

Start the notes client and open your contacts

click on advanced

click on accounts

click on create new account

The name of the account must be "Incoming Internet Mail" or "Outgoing Internet Mail" for all your mail accounts.

If you have multiple mail accounts, you can create an account document for each mail provider. By default, if you have more than one incoming mail account, it will be delivered to a single mail file.

Each location document is configured to deliver mail to a single mail file. ie default destination is Notes\Data\Mail\yourname.nsf.

Finally, in internet explorer under options-programs, verify that Lotus Notes is the default program. This will enable the mail links on websites.

Advanced multi-account setups.

If you want to segregate your mail, use separate location documents. Its easy to switch locations in notes by clicking in the lower right hand corner. It allows you to use different outgoing email addresses, and deliver the incoming mail to separate mail databases.

You can create separate mail files and have a hotmail location document point to notes\data\mail\myhotmail.nsf. Each location document stores your email address so you can use separate location documents for each email address. When you create the account setups above, you could link the account to a specific location. ie Hotmail account login is only active when the hotmail location is active.

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