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Person-independent e-mail addresses

Solutions for person-independent e-mail addresses

  1. 1. Forwarding the e-mail to a person via alias
  2. 2. Distributing the e-mail to a mailing list (distribution list)
  3. 3. Delivery of the e-mail to a group mailbox
  4. 4. Processing the e-mail with a Trouble Ticket System

E-mail addresses at Chemnitz University of Technology are generally person-related, i.e. at vorname.name@unit.tu-chemnitz.de you can reach exactly one person who needs his or her personal user ID and password to read the e-mail.

However, there is often the wish to assign e-mail addresses for institutions (faculties, professorships, projects) or functions (dean, responsible person, info).

  • This address should be independent of the person.
  • The e-mail should be able to be processed by certain persons.
  • This group of persons can change (e.g. in the case of a substitute), but the e-mail address remains the same.

For example, the (imaginary) professorship "Bitmagie" of the Faculty of Computer Science should be reachable via: bitmagie@informatik.tu-chemnitz.de. This e-mail should normally be handled by the secretary, in case of a substitute by a colleague. Of course, the professor would also like to have access to the mailbox.

To deliver an e-mail to a general, person-independent address, we offer the following possibilities:

Forwarding the e-mail to a person via Alias

An incoming e-mail is delivered to a personal mailbox. In case of a substitution, the mail administrator must be informed, who changes the forwarding.

Problem: The e-mail can be read by one person only, the e-mail ends up in his or her personal mailbox.

The personal password must not be passed on to anyone - this would violate the URZ user regulations! You can allow other people to access your personal mailbox by setting access rights - but they will then see all the e-mails there.

To set up an alias, please contact the URZ Helpdesk: e-mail to support@hrz.tu-chemnitz.de.

2. Distributing the e-mail to a Mailing list (distribution list)

Incoming e-mail is distributed to several recipients to their personal mailboxes. In case of substitution, the administrator of the mailing list must change the members.

Problem: The processing status of the e-mail is not visible, possibly several people answer the e-mail (or rely on each other). This could be solved by organisational measures: Define responsibilities; when an e-mail is answered, a copy should be sent to the distribution list.

Further information on mailing lists, e.g. setting up a mailing list

3. Delivery of the e-mail to a Group mailbox

Incoming e-mail is delivered to a group mailbox, which can be accessed by several persons (with their usual personal user IDs and passwords).

  • The access rights can be differentiated (and changed) (e.g. "read only" or "read+write").
  • The personal e-mails are not mixed with the mails of the group mailbox.
  • The processing status (read, answered) can be viewed.
  • In the event of a substitution, the administrator of the group mailbox must give the substitute the corresponding rights.

Depending on whether you and the participants have their mailboxes on the normal mail server or in Exchange, you should also have the group mailbox created there. Below is the description for a group mailbox in the normal Cyrus mail server:

Prerequisite: An IMAP-capable mail program must be used, e.g. Thunderbird, Outlook, or Webmail. Mail programs that are set to the older POP protocol cannot use this variant.

Group mailbox in Thunderbird Group mailbox in Webmail

After setting up the group mailbox, it appears in the folder overview. If this is not the case, subscribe to the group mailbox: Thunderbird: File → Subscribe: Click on the group folder in the hierarchy.

You must then monitor another mailbox in addition to your personal mailbox. For better organisation, you can create further subfolders in the group mailbox (e.g. "Done"), in which certain mails are then filed. However, this requires a certain discipline on the part of all users. In the Thunderbird e-mail programme and in Webmail, this is shown in the picture on the right.

To ensure that sent e-mails also carry the sender address of this group mailbox, an additional identity must be created in the e-mail program. In Webmail, this can be done via "Gear icon" → Preferences → Mail → Personal Information, in Thunderbird via the menu Settings → Account settings: Create the functional e-mail address under "Additional identities".

You can request a group mailbox as a staff member in the IdM portal. There you will find a tab Group mailboxes under E-mail. Click on Create new group mailbox and enter the desired e-mail address of the group mailbox (lower case letters and minus signs are allowed) as well as the duration (before the expiration you will be contacted for renewal). After the URZ has created the group mailbox, you can add additional persons responsible for substitutions.

The access rights are set by the administrator of the group mailbox via Webmail. Right-click on the group mailbox in the folder overview on the left under "Shared", select "Edit ACL" and assign permissions for users. Alternatively, via "Gear icon" → Preferences → Mail → Shared Mailboxes: Here select the relevant folder in the bottom left-hand corner under "Shared".

See also: Exchange-Gruppenpostfächer

4. Processing the e-mail with a Trouble Ticket System

If there are several agents to answer requests to one e-mail address, even a group mailbox quickly becomes confusing. In this case, it is advisable to use a web-based system - a so-called trouble ticket system, which offers many more functions for order processing than a mail programme, but also requires a certain amount of training. Criteria for the use of such a trouble ticket system are:

  • The e-mails trigger orders or are requests for services that are to be answered by several agents in a short, defined time.
  • The processes triggered by the e-mails must be processed by several employees one after the other (workflow).
  • The processing of orders or enquiries should be traceable and documented. At any one time, exactly one person is responsible for an order.
  • In the event of delays, the system should react appropriately, e.g. in the case of illness of the agent.
  • Telephone enquiries should also be recorded and comprehensibly documented as a process.

The URZ, as a service institution for the TU, has been using the Open Trouble Ticket System OTRS for its users' enquiries and requests since 2007. All e-mails sent to our helpdesk address support@hrz.tu-chemnitz.de end up here. The user immediately receives a reply with a case number, and the URZ staff answer the enquiries or distribute them to the relevant staff. Queries are automatically assigned to the case. For example, all orders, enquiries and failure reports for VoIP services are processed via OTRS. The orders can also be sent by the users via a web form.

In this way, an agent can see his or her tasks in a web browser:

OTRS: Oberfläche eines Bearbeiters

In 2008, over 9000 requests and orders were answered with the help of OTRS. The trouble ticket system is also used by other institutions besides the URZ. If you would like to use or get to know the system for incident processing, please contact us. Send an e-mail to support@hrz.tu-chemnitz.de – and we will process your request via OTRS.