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There's something about your email...

One of the most significant information management issues plaguing organizations of all shapes and sizes is what to do with email! To make matters worse, it is commonplace for different departments within a given organization to use vastly different and arbitrary rules for destroying emails. 

Some destroy them every 60 or 90 days, some after a year, and others, in fact, never delete them at all! 

The first 2 of these approaches flout records retention laws (federal, state, local, and international). And the last increases the risk of privacy law failure (most comprehensive privacy laws require you to delete personal information that you no longer need) as well as the risk that the wrong, legally deletable record will show up on the witness stand.

And, to make matters worse, according to major industry surveys, almost 70% of records managers doubt that their IT department understand the importance of electronic records – despite the fact that about ¾ of these same companies rely on IT to manage their emails. 

This is not good.

From an information governance best practices standpoint, the best practice is to identify which emails are considered to be records and to manage them based on a retention schedule. 

OK, how?????

The first step is knowing which emails are business records. The good news is that this typically involves about 5% of the total business emails of most companies.

But the bad news is that that 5% is likely to be really important and that you need to find it. To make things easier, here’s a 3-part test:

First, does the email talk about a transaction or describe the progress towards a transaction, like an email that discusses product pricing for favored customers or that discusses intellectual property terms in a contract!

Second, does it relate to a business activity or a compliance obligation? An example would be an email that discusses recent changes to an HR policy!

Finally, does the email relate to other business activities that could potentially impact a business dispute – for example, an email back from the same supplier mentioned above stating that they are, in fact entitled to a higher discount than the one you gave them in the contract!

Email is a critical business asset that can work for or against you and that may even be explosive in the wrong hands...not just a tech problem-- its high time that we started treating it that way!


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Knowledge Preservation, LLC
567 Woolf Road, Milford, NJ 08848

(973) 494-6068

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