As explored in an earlier b:INFORM article, "Email Compliance: Act Now, Save Millions – Information Governance Report Is A Call To Action," email management is proving to be a major compliance challenge for organizations, threatening financial harm and loss of reputation if left unaddressed. Employing a legally compliant and business savvy email management program is a critical starting point in overcoming the complexities and challenges associated with email retention. In order to facilitate compliant email management, an organization must gain control of its email communications by using effective integration tools and processes.
Many organizations rely significantly on email applications and use an electronic document management ("DM") system to address many of their records and information management needs. Email and DMsystems are integral components in today's workplace and are often required to interact. For example, email applications seek to attach documents which are stored in DM and DM must capture and classify a high volume of email records. The ability of these systems to communicate is critical.
In addition to addressing compliance concerns arising from email management, organizations should also focus on issues that may arise as a result of weak linkages between email and DM applications such as:
- loss of productivity due to context-switching;
- duplication and versioning complications arising from email attachments; and
- a security risk posed by copies of sensitive documents being sent externally
By engaging a suitable technological tool that integrates DM and email systems into a seamless working environment, an organization will effectively address its compliance challenges and deal with other information management considerations such as data security and transfer.
In selecting an integration tool, each organization will vary in the types of functional capabilities it requires due to its own unique technical environment and integration needs. In addition to general ease of use (i.e., drag and drop capabilities), the ability to work on documents collaboratively, and the option to send secure links externally, organizations should consider the following key features when selecting an integration tool:
- automatic capture of metadata
- simultaneous filing of email upon sending
- classification support
- recognition of key words to automate actions
- management of attachments as records
- robust search capabilities
It is possible that no single application can meet all of an organization's functional requirements. However, prioritizing the key features listed above will bring an organization significantly closer towards email compliance.
Once an appropriate integration tool has been selected, its configuration and deployment must then align with an organization's email and records management plan. For example, the process and considerations in applying a retention schedule within the new system should be well-documented. In addition, clearly outlining the expectations for users, including training duration and requirements, will be paramount to integration success. In order to ensure that the technological solution employed is having a viable impact, an organization should evaluate the integration tool's success, assess any deficiencies, and make necessary improvements post-implementation.