In the days before email, business was done face-to-face, over the phone by letter or, if it was urgent, via fax. Now, as well as sending letters as attachments to emails for instant, free delivery; entire conversations can be continued by sending emails back and forth. All those messages generate a lot of information and record the fact that certain documents or information have been passed on and received.
Effective email retention is very important to the running of a business in just the same way as it is important to retain hardcopy files. If you received a letter or invoice from a client – or if you sent the same by post – you would naturally retain that information for at least six years. There is a danger with email that such records can be inadvertently lost or sent to the recycle bin unintentionally. If that were to happen, your business could face a fine for failure to retain relevant information that may be needed for court proceedings or for data protection purposes.
It is difficult, though, to know how best to ensure that the right emails are archived safely whilst the SPAM or irrelevant emails are deleted to free up storage space. If your business has no clear policy on email retention then staff could unknowingly delete emails that should have been kept just to free up some inbox space (since an over-filled email system can slow down response times significantly).
If you have a policy for email retention then make sure all staff are aware of it and use it properly, so that archived emails can be accessed quickly and easily. Who has time to spend half a day trawling through archived emails to find one in particular?
If you do not currently have an email retention policy then now is the time to develop one. If you need help in doing so, then contact an email services company, such as Mimecast, which can give advice on how best to organise and secure your emails to make sure that retention regulations are adhered to and that your storage is not overburdened with useless data.
So how do you find the right email archiving solution for your business?
If you use email as part and parcel of how you run your business, then you need an effective email archiving solution that will enable you to retain relevant emails whilst freeing up valuable storage space from SPAM and emails that can be safely deleted.
Some email providers automatically archive emails after a certain amount of time (typically six months or a year). That may be inappropriate or unnecessary for your business, as it lumps all emails (ones that need to be kept and ones that do not) into the same category and makes it difficult to find and retrieve emails as necessary.
Email is the predominant form of communication for many businesses; many receive initial enquiries from potential customers through email; invoices are sent and paid or disputed in the same way and contract terms are often debated or agreed to over email. All of those records – and that valuable information – would be retained for at least six years if held in paper form as a matter of course. But somehow when that same information is held in email form it is treated with less care. Better, in many ways, than telephone calls, emails record exactly what each party has said and agreed to or otherwise – information that can prove very valuable in court proceedings.
It is not practical or environmentally friendly to print off every email sent or received (or even just the relevant ones), and people tend to assume that they will always be able to access the information in the future if needs be, because it is held electronically somewhere. But that is not always the case, and an effective email archiving system will not only make sure that important emails are retained but that they can be easily and quickly accessed at any time in the future if required.
There are a number of options when considering which type of email archiving system will work best for your business. For expert advice, you can contact an email services company such as Mimecast, which can offer this advice and also advise on more general email management issues, such as email retention and email security if you wish.
[author ]This is a guest post by Adam a new Londoner, who has interests in recruitment, all things techy, a passion for travel and a love of fashion. He blogs about recruitment, travel and IT/technology as well as latest trends in mens and womens fashion. If you want Adam to write you specific content, feel free to message me on Twitter (@NewburyNewbie).[/author]