I have posted recently on challenges posed by the email inbox here and here. One of the advantages of our extranet system is that it contains a bulletin board system (BBS) inside the application. While not all of our clients communicate exclusively through the bulletin board, over 50% of the communication goes through there.
The advantage of the BBS is that it threads discussions much like Google’s gmail. There is no danger of a message or a comment to a message getting lost within the extranet. Everything is preserved in a single place and sorted by client and matter. Everyone on the team can see the communication, drastically reducing the chance that something will get lost in the mix. The problem with email is that it is typically uncategorized. Sure, people create folder systems in their email inbox and work diligently to put ingoing and outgoing emails into the appropriate folder. That approach is foolhardy. It takes way too much time to file emails by folder. Further, the risk that you’ll miss an important email makes the approach incredibly high-risk. By working through the extranet, emails are automatically sorted and categorized. This is one of the many advantages which an extranet has to offer.