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The Biggest Loser? One Company's Microsoft Exchange Server

Last year, Richard Lindner, IS manager at the Shepherd Color Co., dropped 75 pounds.

This year the company's 250 employees got a turn to trim the fat -- from their inboxes.

Inspired by Lindner, Tina Stewart, the IS support supervisor at the Cincinnati-based company, came up with an idea to get users to delete email from their inboxes. The Biggest Loser campaign -- named for the reality TV show that catalogs contestants' weight loss -- brought the company's Microsoft Exchange Server capacity down significantly. Prior to the campaign, the server was using 85 gigabytes, just short of its maximum capacity, and it took more than 24 hours for backup. With the Biggest Loser campaign in effect, the company reduced server usage by 27%.

Purchasing a new email server would cost $10,000 to $20,000, "which is a lot of money for a company our size," Lindner notes.

In June, Lindner and Stewart sent all users an email explaining how to shrink their inboxes -- and introduced the contest to see which department could delete the most email, attachments and files from company servers.

"At the water cooler, people were really talking about it and wondering who was winning," says Lindner. At the end of the day, it was the QA team that cleaned everyone's clock: As a group, it reduced email by 55%. As for Lindner, he's kept the weight off too.

Stefanie McCann was formerly editor at large at CIO Decisions magazine. Write to her at

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