Email is the primary method of business communication nowadays. Despite the fact that SMS messaging, social media and phone calls are still used email is still preferred by 37 percent of those who responded to a recent survey.
Because email is so popular, and because it leaves a trail of communication, email archiving is a necessity for many businesses. Archiving , the act of not only storing and preserving emails but also making them easily searchable, is driven by:
- Business continuity
- Records management policies
- Email content monitoring
- Email system optimization
- Email message backup and recovery
- Litigation and legal discovery
However, more than any other reason listed above organizations look to an email archiving strategy because they are required to have one in place to be in compliance with government regulations. In fact, there 12 different major compliance requirements in the United States alone and other countries have them in place as well.
But launching an email archiving project isn’t the easiest thing in the world. It takes strategy, buy-in and the right tools to make sure that it goes smoothly and meets your organizational needs.
Getting the right people together
Before anything is bought or any policies are written it is important that the right teams sit down to discuss your email archiving strategy. In too many instances one department will decide that this is needed and outline the project for everyone else. This usually ends in failure.
To promote a successful project, representatives from Human Resources, Legal, Information Technology and senior management should all be included in the planning stages. After all, you want to make sure that your solution meets the personnel and legal needs of your industry, but you also need to make sure that any solution works within your organization’s network as well.
While the other stakeholders are working on their end, the email team has its own responsibilities to attend to.
Of course making sure that any archiving solution that you purchase works within the confines of your network and email policies is the first step. However anyone who has had to make a purchase before would have already thought of this and done their due diligence to make sure everything works properly.
But that isn’t where the research phase of your responsibilities should end. Not even close.
Not all email archiving solutions have an auditing function that stores emails in a tamper proof manner. If people are able to access emails that have been stored it could render them useless as evidence or support for your organization. If you are looking into email archiving for legal protection or regulation compliance then this feature is a must have.
Email archives keep infrastructure costs down when done properly. Users no longer have to store emails on the server, or even in a network shared folder. The only drawback to this is the user has to be able to access archived emails so that they can retrieve stored, or deleted, messages on their own. This, of course, should also work with the auditing feature.
Instituting a new archiving system means that all of those emails, contacts and other things stored in the users’ personal files need to be moved over and eventually forgotten. Any solution put in place should have the ability to migrate these files over so nothing is lost. Once this is done a simple group policy can turn off the use of PST files across your network.
Once everything is in place make sure that your coworkers are made aware that your organization will be archiving and storing emails. They should also know what is being saved, including personal emails sent via the work email system. Even if your email policy restricts the use of work email for personal reasons, people still send and receive the occasional email about what’s for dinner or to make plans. Additionally, you need to make sure that there is no way around the archiving system. All it takes is for one crafty employee to circumvent the system and all of your logs and emails will be called into question thus negating the entire purpose of your solution.