Understanding Email Archiving and Policies

By Damian Alderson – Email archiving is one of those things that many companies tend to ignore. It’s one of those tasks that are tedious, time-consuming, and always seem to get out of mind. But, the truth of the matter is that email archiving is important and something that every business should think about.

In today’s corporate context, where rules are tightening, appropriate email archiving is no longer an option; it’s a necessity.

What is email archiving

Email archiving is the process of keeping a copy of all emails sent or received within an organization. Administrators and users can quickly search the archives for specific information.

Email archiving usually falls under the responsibility of a compliance and records management officer. The archive becomes the central repository of electronic messages. This provides the records management officer with quick access to any emails needed to meet legal compliance.

There are a number of technologies used for email archiving. These range from simple mailbox filters to enterprise cloud archiving solutions.

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The importance of email archiving

Improved storage management

Email buildup may quickly clog your servers and wreak havoc on productivity. In order to conserve space on their servers, some companies even set email limitations. Aside from the sheer amount of emails exchanged each day, another consideration is email size.

However, you are not required to use these restricting techniques in order to keep your live servers functioning successfully. Email archiving allows you to conserve space and avoid server overload while not interfering with your everyday communication.

Allowing unrestricted communication is critical for productivity. Furthermore, by enabling automated email archiving, your staff will save time manually deleting emails to free up space, and your IT team will be more productive since they will not have to recover unintentionally lost emails.

Ensuring regulatory compliance

Because email is the major mode of business communication, your email archive will include a great deal of sensitive business information, not just about your company but also about your clients and business partners.

Most businesses, particularly the government, financial services, and healthcare, have stringent restrictions in place to secure this data. These rules and regulations differ from one state to the next.

Enterprise email archiving can assist you in storing your emails in accordance with these rules. Just be sure to do your homework and select a solution that allows you to comply with particular federal, state, and industry requirements that pertain to your organization.

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eDiscovery made easier

Even if you strictly adhere to all regulatory requirements, legal concerns may arise. In the event of a legal dispute, your email archive can be used as evidence. Because most corporate contact nowadays is done electronically, mostly via email, you may be asked to turn up your emails as evidence in court proceedings.

eDiscovery refers to the process of locating and distributing emails and other forms of electronic material that can be used as evidence. eDiscovery will be a lot faster and easier with the aid of an email archiving service, saving you both the time and money you would otherwise spend on the legal procedure.

Better management of knowledge

Not only is email an excellent tool for corporate communication, but it also doubles as a searchable data store.

Your email base contains all of your critical files and papers, appointments, and contacts. Your email system has a record of contact with your company partners, clients, prospects, and so on, in addition to internal communication.

Email archiving allows you to safeguard this sensitive material while also using it as a corporate knowledge repository, allowing you to conveniently access business information whenever you need it.

Email archiving solutions offer valuable knowledge management features including comprehensive search and retrieval functionalities, allowing your firm to properly manage the knowledge base included in the company’s email archive.

Aside from that, you can utilize this knowledge base to discover what subjects are most frequently addressed, how long it takes your staff to react to emails, and so on, and use these insights to better your day-to-day operations.

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Ethical monitoring

Even though employee monitoring is a contentious practice, there are ethical methods to conduct it.

While some form of employee monitoring is necessary, your employees are unlikely to be comfortable if they believe they are being spied on. To create trust and guarantee a healthy connection with your employees, make sure you have a clear workplace policy and that you publish it openly and honestly.

Once you’ve established clear rules and limitations, you can utilize your email archiving system to define specific keywords that will alert you when these rules are violated.

Monitoring your workers’ communication does not include reading every email they send. Simply said, it means checking automatically not only for breaches that might destroy your company but also for harmful activities like mobbing and sexual harassment that could significantly injure your staff.

Email Archiving Best Practices

Here are some pointers to help you enhance your email archiving and get back on track.

Double-check laws and regulations

Certain rules and regulations should be considered while selecting an email archiving service and developing a retention policy. These restrictions might be more or less stringent depending on the sector in which your company works.

If you fail to comply with these requirements, you risk not only losing your reputation but also incurring major legal and financial penalties. As a result, you should thoroughly review all applicable rules and regulations to ensure that your email archiving system and retention policy are compliant.

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Get legal counsel

Depending on the sector, your firm may be subject to a slew of various rules and regulations and ensuring that you’re abiding by them all might be difficult. As a result, your legal staff should play a critical role in developing a retention policy. They’re already aware of all of the necessary legislation, email retention obligations, and legal language. Their role is to ensure your company’s legal protection, so consider them as a resource while developing your retention strategy.

However, while developing retention rules, your legal team should not be the only instrument at your disposal. Make sure you bring in additional teams to ensure that every department is well-represented and on the same page when it comes to document archiving and retention periods. Having at least one representative from each department on your retention policy A-team who can weigh in on this critical issue will prevent anything from falling between the cracks.

Aim for the longest retention period

With many laws and regulations demanding varied retention durations even within the same sector, creating comprehensive email retention rules that address all of them may be difficult.

Unfortunately, many employees find it difficult to adhere to a single email retention policy, let alone numerous retention periods. That’s why it’s best practice to design policies with the longest retention time feasible in mind – this way, you’ll guarantee that your retention policy satisfies as many rules as possible.

For example, your organization may be required by three distinct requirements to maintain email data for one, three, or seven years. In such a situation, it’s preferable to protect all of them at once by selecting a seven-year retention duration across the board.

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Use automation to make employees’ lives easier

You can automate your email archiving process if you’ve established a good email preservation policy. By automatically collecting all outgoing and incoming emails into a safe, tamper-proof archive, contemporary email archiving systems reduce all of the stress and hazards associated with manually archiving emails.

The ability to automatically delete emails from the archiving repository once the retention period has ended is one of the most important aspects of any excellent archiving system. This helps you to save time and money, giving your personnel more time to focus on other important responsibilities. Automation may help you ease staff retention, reduce the chance of errors, and maintain compliance.

Update your retention policies on a regular basis

You can’t just create a retention policy and forget about it. Retention laws and regulations can vary on a yearly basis, and if your email retention rules aren’t up to speed with the most recent modifications, you might face major repercussions.

Make a yearly review and update of your current policies with the assistance of your legal team to avoid any unpleasant surprises and to guarantee that you remain compliant. If you fail to do so, all of your hard work in developing retention procedures may be for naught.

Remember to inform your employees about policy changes

A modified email retention policy only makes sense if people who are expected to follow it are aware of the changes, so after redesigning your retention regulations, don’t forget to educate your staff about the adjustments.

Also, don’t forget to update your email archiving solutions and set new deletion dates for your archived emails so you don’t store them for longer or shorter than required.

Wrapping up

Whether you want to strengthen your retention policy, purchase an email archiving solution for the first time, or just make a transition, examine your existing position and consider the issues you may face in the future before making a choice.

These suggestions are a good place to start but don’t forget to consider the sector in which your firm works, your location and local regulations, the size of your organization, and any other unique situations. After you’ve evaluated everything, you’ll be able to make these best practices even more effective for your company.

 


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