Emory employees going through their work mail this summer may
notice something different on certain pieces: a string of 10 numbers
and letters, stamped in one corner, subtle and unobtrusive, following
the words “Mail Stop.”
In order to help deliver mail to University employees both more
efficiently and more accurately, University Mail Services, Human
Resources and the Information Technology Division have worked together
to create the new mailstop system, which uses the 10-digit code
to route mail to a precise location for each individual on—and
The system, which went live July 20, is quite simple in concept:
Assign an unambiguous code to each employee that signifies the physical
location to which his or her mail will be sent. The first four digits
in the code represent the building (using Facilities Management’s
existing building identification system); the next three digits
represent the building floor, and the final three signify the actual
“bin” into which mail is to be deposited.
The only trick is keeping information current; this is, in fact,
largely what plagued mail routing in the past, and it was a problem
Fred Lewis recognized immediately when he arrived here in 2001.
“I discovered Emory did not have a single database you could
go to and locate staff and faculty mailing addresses,” said
Lewis, customer service manager for Pitney Bowes, the company with
which Emory contracts to run University Mail. “It’s
not anybody’s fault; it’s just the way the University
has grown up. [The system] was based on what people knew, what they
could remember about where people moved and when—and personal
knowledge is a terrible way to sort the mail.”
It was an issue not only for University Mail but also for Human
Resources; as the primary provider of all-campus mailing labels,
HR constantly received complaints about inaccurate labels that resulted
in mail reaching some destinations very late, if at all.
Lewis began working with HR and ITD to develop a better system.
The first step was to create a mailstop field in HR’s PeopleSoft
records. Then there was the task of meticulously going through each
University department to develop the mailstop coding system itself
and assign a mailstop to every individual; Lewis said there currently
are a total of 244 mailstops, most specific to a department but
some to individuals (President Bill Chace, for example, has his
own mailstop code).
After the system was designed, University Mail’s sorting
machines were programmed to sort mail according to mailstops, and
the system went live. And, despite some isolated problems, things
have gone pretty smoothly so far, Lewis said. Only 12 department-level
issues arose that first weekend, involving roughly 300 employees
(out of about 20,000 Universitywide).
“When you consider the volume of people, we had about 300
people who did not have mailstops, and that’s a pretty good
percentage out of 20,000,” Lewis said. “This may not
be the answer, but it is an answer for information distribution
at Emory. We will see improvement in delivery time and location.”
“It’s actually gone better than we hoped,” said
John Goodson, manager of HR technical services.
Though a number of people collaborated with Lewis on the mailstop
project, Goodson and Data Services Manager Carol Miller have been
the point people for HR, and ITD’s Barbara Anderson coordinated
from her division. People from Facilities Management, Pitney Bowes,
PeopleSoft and other divisions also lent their expertise.
Integral to the system’s success, everyone agreed, is how
well the University culture adopts to mailstops. Eventually, Lewis
said, he would like to see people using mailstop codes for interoffice
mail instead of building addresses, and even having employees’
mailstops printed on their business cards. Future modifications
could allow individuals to have more than one mailstop; School of
Medicine doctors with offices both in WHSCAB and at Grady Hospital,
for example, could benefit from such a development.
For now, however, it would be enough for departmental HR representatives
to make sure HR’s PeopleSoft records are updated for all employees
in their departments—and that they are kept up to date if
an employee or a whole department moves.
“The key is having everyone understand the quality and the
nature of the information that’s in the system,” Goodson
said. “Until we did this, we had no way to communicate to
the departments how much bad data there was in the system.”