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The Five Biggest Email Management Mistakes
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By Brian Murphy

Your company may be guilty of one or more of the most common e-mail management mistakes. This leads to unnecessary costs and risks. Here's a rundown of the most common mistakes and best practice recommendations on how to prevent them.

Mistake #1: It's possible to live without an e-mail management system "for now." The costs of e-mail storage, the impact on overwhelmed e-mail servers, and the legal and credibility risks from not being able to find e-mails when required make complacency a costly and damaging mistake. The damage can go beyond fines and settlements to a loss of corporate credibility that will drive down a company's stock price.

Recommendation: Begin to develop a comprehensive e-mail management program - now. Here are some high-level recommendations:

Establish appropriate employee e-mail usage and content rules. Monitor employee e-mail to ensure compliance with these rules

Apply the organization's records retention schedule to e-mail records

Establish that e-mail messages are only to be saved for legitimate business or legal reasons

Migrate official e-mail records to an approved e-mail management system

Purge e-mails that are not official records from the e-mail system on a regular, but pre-defined schedule.

Mistake #2: Destroy all e-mail by auto-purges or mailbox caps. Some companies conclude that drastic action is needed, so they implement 30, 60 or 90-day e-mail deletion policies or mailbox sizes limits. This approach is inherently flawed and flies in the face of decades of record management practices. Records management best practices dictate that you find out what you legally and operationally need to keep, determine the retention period, and implement that policy consistently, regardless of the record's format.

Recommendation: Do for e-mail what you do for other business records:
Establish a policy that includes legal and operational needs.
Train employees and provide ongoing e-mail policy communications and education.
Give employees the tools by which appropriate e-mail can be archived.
Allow managers to immediately modify the system to identify and protect additional classes of e-mail as required.

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Brian Murphy is a Senior Vice President at Iron Mountain.
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