This guide will take you through all aspects of the communications module.


Communications dashboard overview.


Your Communications Dashboard can be found on the top navigation bar at the top of any of your administration pages (when logged in as an administrator). This page is only available to Project Administrators.


The navigation bar with Communication Icon and link available.


Dashboard.


The default dashboard layout looks like this:


The default layout of the dashboard.


Tiles.


The following navigation tiles are available:

  • Message Templates – the list of message templates available for this project.

  • Messages – the number of messages created so far.

  • Recipients – the number of recipients for the messages.

  • Distribution groups – this is reserved for a future feature.

Each of these navigational tiles will take you into the next part of the system.


Feeds.


The following feeds are available on the communications dashboard:

  • Latest Sent Emails – a list of the latest emails sent out by the system (in chronological order).

  • Most Failed Emails – recipients of failed emails order by the largest number of failed emails per submitter first.

  • Latest Failed Emails – a list of failed emails in chronological order.


Charts.


This chart shows the percentage of messages delivered per message template. This will populate over time and with use.


A chart showing the percentage of messages delivered per Message Template.


Message Templates.


This is the starting point to sending out emails. The list of Message Templates shows the Message Templates that are available and some meta-data about each template.


A list of Message Templates using the standard grid layout.


Functional buttons.


There are a number of functional buttons above the list of Message Templates available to the Administrator. All these buttons are currently under construction and will be available at a later date.


Message Template buttons.


There are also three buttons available for each Message Template in the grid and can be found at the beginning of the row of each template:

  • View – this will take the administrator through to the main screen for a single message template. The main screen is where the message template can be configured. This is explained in the next section.

  • Preview – this provides the administrator with a preview of the message template with the current settings applied. This feature is explained in greater detail further in this document.

  • Create – this is a “Quick create” feature that lets the administrator create and the emails without further configuration. This will be used when the administrator wishes to accept the current settings (either the default settings or previously configured). Once created, the administrator will still need to follow the “Send” procedure (described later in this document) to send out the messages.


The “Create” slide out panel showing the available options.


Viewing a Message Template.


Clicking on “View” for a Message Template will open the Message Template and give you access to configure the Message Template.


The view of a Message Template.


This page is made up of a number of elements:


Functional Buttons.


The buttons available at any one time is dependent on how far along in the process of configuring and send the template you are. At the beginning of the process the following buttons are available:

  • Edit – this will allow you to edit the content of the template.

  • Clone Template – clone this template to provide a new template.

  • History – this will give you a full breakdown of the history of the Message Template.

  • Edit Recipients – this is currently under construction. Once complete, this will allow the administrator to view and edit the list of recipients.

  • Preview – a preview of the message that will be sent.

  • Send Test Message – this feature will allow you to send the email to a email address of your choice.

  • Create – this will allow you to create the messages.

  • Delete – this is not currently available.

Other buttons that become available after clicking “Create->Create”:

  • View Messages – view the messages that will be sent.

  • Send – finally sends the messages.


Edit.


The edit functionality currently requires a good working knowledge of Handlebars Templates and HTML. We recommend talking to Firebird support if you are not confident in making changes to these templates yourself.

We are working on a solution that simplifies editing the content of the email.


The edit page.


BCC setting


You can now send a blind copy of the email to yourself each time it is sent out to a recipient. This is useful to know when a submission has been completed or if you just want to know if emails have been sent (although the feedback through the data in the system should also tell you this!). The BCC email address is set as part of the project settings. Please contact support@firebird.systems if you need any help.


Clone template.


Cloning a template will take an exact copy of the current message template, with the existing filters, message content and configuration. The only change will be the name of the message template – the new template will be called “Copy of ” and then the name of the original message template. The new template will appear at the end of the list of message templates:


The cloned template appearing at the end.


History.


This page will show the history of the Message Template. There is very little history when you first use the Message Template. The history will fill up over time.


The history of this Message Template


Edit Recipients.


This is an advanced section and is recommended for advanced users. For most scenarios, the default setting of “People Without Draft Messages” is perfectly adequate and does not need changing. If you are unsure, please contact Firebird Support.

The Edit Recipients section provides two main features:

  • To configure the target group of intended recipients (advanced).

  • The ability to view the list of recipients for this message.


The options to choose from when targeting the recipients for this message.


Choosing the target group.


The recipient list is automatically chosen by the system, however there are further configuration options available to the administrator depending on what has happened previously with this message template.

There are four options to choose from when configuring the recipients:

  • People Without Messages – People who have not been sent a message using this template already.

  • People Without Draft Messages (default) – People who do not have an existing draft (unsent) message using this template.

  • People With Changed Data – People whose data may have changed since the last set of messages were created.

  • All People – All people identified by the system as being part of the target group regardless of whether they have already been sent a message or a draft (unsent) message already exists (potentially a duplicate will be created).

Knowing when to use the different options is the key. For example, if you have sent out “Acceptance” emails to Oral presenters already and you decide to accept a new submission as an Oral presentation, the submitter of that newly accepted submission will not have been told about their submission being accepted. You also do not want to send out the email again to all submitters of accepted oral submissions. By clicking on “People Without Messages” the system will first find the set of recipients who have a submission marked as both “Accepted” and “Oral” and will then filter out anyone who has already received a message using this template. That will leave the subset of recipients who have not yet had a message, allowing you to send to just this group.


Viewing recipient’s details.


Once you have chosen the group to target, you are able to check the number of intended recipients and also the individual email addresses and names of those recipients that the messages are going out to. Just click on “See Details” to see the list of email address and names.


A selected group of recipients to target.


The selected group of recipients with full email and name details shown (after clicking “See Details”).


Preview.


The Preview feature this will show the first email in the set to be created in a slide out panel with the merge fields resolved for the first recipient of the message.


Previewing a message template.


The “Previous” and “Next” buttons help you cycle through the messages that would be created (with the current set of configuration options) to check other messages. This is especially useful if you have included sections that deal with single objects (such as submissions or reviews) and multiple objects. For instance, if you are sending out Acceptance emails, you may have a submitter with multiple accepted submissions. Rather than receive multiple emails, we can include all their accepted submissions in a single email and the wording can be changed to reflect with the single or multiple items.


Send Test Message.


This feature will allow you to send out a single test email to an email address of your choosing. You are able to choose if you would like to test the plain text version of the email.

The first message in the set of emails to be sent is used and the merge fields are resolved for the first recipient of the message.


Sending a test message.


Create.


This page confirms the number of messages that will be created and allows you to see the names and email addresses of the intended recipients.


Creating the messages.


New functionality.


Once the messages have been created, there will be new buttons available on the message template screen.


The message template page after the messages have been created.


Viewing Messages.


This page will list all the messages that have been created and their status. If the messages were created without sending, the status will be fixed as “Draft”.

You will only be able to view these messages once they have been created. The button to be able to navigate to this screen is not available until the messages have been created.


A list of the messages that have been created.


Viewing an Individual Message.


Click on View to see the actual message that will be sent out as an email to the recipient listed in the grid.

From this page you can (or will be able to if the feature is not currently available):

  • Edit. Edit this message – this is not currently available.

  • Message Template. Go back to the Message Template – this will help you navigate back to the Message Template screen in order to continue to manage the template – including sending of the messages.

  • Recipient. Check the Recipient – see more details regarding the recipient of this particular message

  • History. Check the History – if there is any history of this message you can check it here.

  • Delete. Delete the Message – if you do not wish to send this message out, it can be deleted.


Viewing an individual message.


View Recipient.


The recipient page will show you details regarding the recipient of the message, including their email address and the number of status of messages sent to them.

From this page you can:

  • Edit. Edit the recipient.

  • View Messages. View all messages sent to this recipient.

  • View Person. View the underlying person details.

  • Refresh. Pick up on any recent changes to the recipient (usually as a result of message traffic – delivered, opened, bounced etc.).

  • History. The history of messages to this recipient.

  • Delete. Delete this recipient.


Viewing a recipient.


Messages to a recipient.


This page will show all the messages sent to a particular recipient.


All the messages for a recipient.


Send Message Template.


This page is the final step in the process of sending the message. The number of messages to be sent is clearly displayed in the information well at the top of the page.

The send message(s) confirmation screen.


Sent Messages.


The best way to view the message status and the process each message goes through is from either the Message Template page where the overall data shows the progress of all the messages. Alternatively, the Messages page show the individual status of each message.

The statuses each message can be one of the following:

  • Draft – unsent message.

  • Delivered – sent from our system (this does not necessarily mean delivered to the recipient)

  • Opened – the recipient has opened the email.

  • Clicked – the recipient has clicked on a link within the email.

  • Bounced – the recipient’s server rejected the incoming email. This could be for any number of reasons.


Important points to note.


This is new functionality and there are a few things you should be aware of.

These emails are all live, even in any test system you may have with us. Only the “Send Test Email” sends a test email to the email address you specify.

There are certain aspects we want to bring to your attention:

  • Do not double click any button. This may have the unfortunate consequence of repeating the functionality twice. This could include creating the messages twice or sending them out twice.

  • There is only delete functionality for messages that have been created – we advise using this wisely. Please make sure of the actions you are performing as some cannot be undone. If you are in doubt, feel free to contact Firebird support.

  • Some templates may take a while to perform the action, especially if there are a lot of recipients. Please be patient and wait until the spinning wheel completes before attempting to perform another action.


Following up on emails.


During the sending process and for some time after the messages have been sent, you will receive feedback regarding the recipient’s actions. You can see from the Messages page the status of each message (draft, sending, delivered, opened, clicked etc.).

Some messages will not get through to their intended recipients. This is normal. We have done a lot of work to minimise the risk of bounced emails but there are a certain number of factors out of Firebird’s control – such as if the email address was entered incorrectly or if their mailbox is full and not accepting any new emails.

There is a feed on your communications dashboard that will tell you the latest actions regarding your sent emails. There is also a feed to show you the latest failed emails. We recommend inspecting any messages that appear in this feed and following up with the recipient manually to make sure they receive your message.