I’m running a business together with two partners. Everyone of us may answer emails sent to the general support email address. But our current workflow is not optimal.

Our current workflow

Everyone of us is using a local email client with two IMAP mailboxes: the support account and a personal account.

  1. A new email arrives at [email protected], asking for support.
  2. This email gets automatically forwarded to each of our personal mailboxes ([email protected], …) (to prevent that someone marks the email as read and the others don’t notice it)
  3. We have to co-ordinate who of us will answer it (to prevent that more than one answer is sent).
  4. One of us answers it (currently from his personal account).

Problems with this workflow

  • Step 3 is cumbersome and takes too much time.
  • Step 4: Everyone of us should be able to see/review all support emails, including answers (which are currently sent only to the personal account of one of us).

What we would like instead

  • A system that shows & archives all support mails (sent + received), where all emails about the same topic should be grouped somehow.
  • The ability to flag a new email somehow, indicating that the flagger is about to answer it.
  • It would be nice if we could answer mails right from this system.


  • Free/Libre Open Source Software
  • OS:
    • If the solution is for desktops: it needs to be available cross-plattform (GNU/Linux, Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows)
    • If the solution is for servers: it needs to run on GNU/Linux
  • We are not in local network, so it needs to work over the Internet.

2 Answers 2


Since your question seems to be OK with web based: Gmail. Create one shared account everyone can use for support.

  • GMail lets you view emails from 2 accounts simultaneously, one personal one support.
  • You read and answer emails using shared account
  • You can tag using either stars; OR using labels (including per-planned-answerer labels).
  • Can answer right from the system
  • Can see what was answered due to conversation threading view
  • Can even see other people's drafts (as a bonus, can resume someone else's draft if needed since it's a shared account)
  • Obviously works on Internet and is as cross platform as you can possibly get.
  • Being a web browser, the client can be open-source (e.g. Firefox)
  • While GMail is technically not open-source, it's 100% open data (you can export data from it 100% daily, in format compatible with any future email program).
  • Bonus: Available on Android phones (again, can log in to multiple accounts)


Since in the comments you identified that you are less interested in support email system and OK with ticketing one, the classic for that is Request Tracker (aka RT).

  • As any request tracking system, it's designed to have multiple users use a single support queue
    • Can assign tickets to a person when working on them (including reassign)
    • Can change ticket status
    • Can see the history of ticket responses in each ticket
    • Can manage ticket workflow status
  • GPLv2 license
  • Has email interface
    • Can pipe incoming emails to an email-to-RT gateway to turn them into RT tickets
    • Can subscribe to RT feed from individual accounts to know when tickets come in and are answered
    • Can even respond with emails to RT to post ticket responses.
  • Has web front end
    • Can manage tickets, respond to tickets, and do full search of DB
  • Has back-end DB so can do whatever advanced stuff you want with the support history data.

OSTicket is what we use currently. (We being Efficito.)

It basically allows you to set up departments, have emails come in, and so forth.

One major disadvantage of Gmail is that if it is a shared account, then you have to change the password anytime someone leaves. With OSTicket you can set up individual user accounts. One thing I would recommend though is consider carefully how it works with email since we have found that we needed to plan out anti-spam measures to keep us from being spammed through it.

As a disclaimer, we are currently building a competing ticketing implementation which will use LedgerSMB as a back-end.

  • How would you flag an email (= ticket) so that it’s clear who will answer it? Can a user assign himself to a ticket? Or add a comment?
    – unor
    Feb 10, 2014 at 3:15
  • 1
    You can lock the ticket during response. You can also post internal notes. You can also assign it. Feb 10, 2014 at 3:17

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