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How can I send emails to the members of a Hornbill Organisation Group?


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I want to email all the users of a given Application from Hornbill. We have set-up our AD so the Organisation Group syncs into Hornbill daily; giving us all the users and, of course, their email address. An example OG is "Application X Users" and has 200 people in it. We use these groups to allocate the right people as Subscribers to each application so it's a kind of automated user admin. Makes total sense to want to email them from time to time, right?

I tried inputting the name of the Organisation Group into the External Email which is the closest obvious match to that requirement. The group itself is copied-over from a Variable:


But predictably, I suppose, the Product has simply inserted the name of the OG in to To: field and that doesn't work. I had hoped it would interpret that like an Exchange distribution list and send to all the members contained therein.


So what is the correct method of sending to the Organisation units' members, please?

I hope we don't hear it's impossible as I'd certainly come back and say that would be a great enhancement!




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Hi Rob, 

Thanks for you post.  The organisation groups were not really designed for the use as an email distribution list.  However, I believe that there is a fairly simple way to achieve what you are looking for.

I believe that the best starting point is to have an email distribution list created in your Active Directory or email server. 

In Hornbill, each organisation group has some extra fields titled Attribute # that can be used to store additional information.  You can add the distribution email address to one of these fields. 


Using the Translation Mode, you can even rename to field's title to something that better describes the field, such as Distribution List.  




In the BPM designer there is a Hornbill Automation for retrieving the details of a Hornbill Organisation Group.  If you look that the outputs for this automation you will see that it includes these extra attributes.


Next you would then use the above output to populate the Email External Address automation, using a variable in the External Address option


The External Addresses variable will look something like &[global["flowcoderefs"]["groupGet"]["attrib1"]]

I hope that makes sense, and let me know if you have any questions.


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Hi James. We will look into this. It does indeed look like an enticing prospect to achieve what we want; assuming we can mail-enable our AD groups and get the email addresses sync'd in.

You quoted, "The organisation groups were not really designed for the use as an email distribution list". That may be the case but I suggest the Design has fallen short:

  1. OGs are used to provide access to the Services and Catalogue Items in the product
  2. OGs contain email addresses and Service Manager contains email capabilities
  3. Every IT team in the universe needs to communicate with it's user base about Incidents, Service Requests and Changes
  4. Every account manager only wants their users to receive communications relevant to their services
  5. Despite the advent of collaboration tools, most organisations still use email as the primary method to communicate with users

Everything is there ready, like roads that have not yet been connected. Imagine that new Customer itching to sign-up who asks "And I can email Subscribers to Services direct from Hornbill Service Manager as part of my business process, right?"



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@James Ainsworth. We cannot do as you suggest. I think the trend to move to cloud is removing that capability. My technical guys tells me this:

Current setup: We have an O365 Security Group for each major application and we use that to import users into Subscriptions in HB. This is currently managed by manually adding users to the AD group but we are looking to automate that.
What we had hoped: We hoped we could just mail-enable our Security Groups but mail-enabled Security Groups don't exist in O365.
Hornbill advise (above): Create DL's to use to send mail to but this means we would need to create another list/group in AD to manage because the DL can't be used as an import group. This would give us 2 AD groups per Subscription; doubling our overheads.
Other options? There is something called an "365 Group": these would work with mail-enablement but the problem is that this would then enable other services for the users in the group such as sharepoint/forms/etc and will also email the users to say they are in this group which we don't want to do.
The upshot? We are stuck and cannot use the Product to contact our own users :-(. We REALLY want Hornbill to accept the usefulness of a Product feature to join the existing dots and to allow us to contact members of Subscribers through workflow; be that email or, say, an integration like Teams.
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There are multiple issues with trying to implement something like this.  Hornbill is not designed to do bulk email distributions in this way, there is not direct correlation between organisation groups (collections of people) and email distribution lists. Technically of course, as you rightly say, the basic function is quite simple, but in detail there are a lot of issues here.

Things like GDPR, email permissions and opt-ins/outs, dealing with bounce-backs, out of office notifications, invalid/missing email addresses, duplicate email address and so on are all things that need to be handled correctly. 

Now I appreciate you are about to say to me that GDPR is not a problem for you because your users are internal, and thats true for a lot of customers, but if we implement such a capability we also have to consider the many customers that use Hornbill, that do not only deal with internal employees but external contacts, then not only do we need to manage opt-ins/outs, but we need to also deal with managing email origin server reputation and all that goes along with that.  There is a lot involved even though it sounds simple, in practice its not.

I fully understand what you are trying to achieve, and I have empathy with the almost-there bridge image you used, but this is not something simple to do, and its not a common requirement/request, in fact in 9 years this has not come up once in relation to Hornbill.

I am not saying we would not implement something like this, as you say most of the bits needed are already there, but its not something we could do quickly or simply.  In the mean time, it would be better if you can use 0365 distribution lists, we have some on our own O365 account and they do work. 



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