Here’s an issue you may not have given much thought to, but that could become a major issue at some point: saving email communications to employees and clients that contain company policy changes, contract changes, alerts or other critical communications.
Most companies have no email retention policy in place regardless of their company size. Retention of email was not considered unless the company needed to free up electronic storage space, and then they normally just picked a previous date and deleted or archived anything prior to that date. A true email retention policy is not just about freeing up space; it’s about reducing a company’s overall risk. Companies that have longer email retention policies (or no email archive regulations) in place could potentially be taking on unnecessary risk. But, why is this the case?
Here are four big reasons why you need an email retention policy and archiving system:
While the emails and data subject to regulatory statues vary by industry, all emails that contain employee and client records, contract negotiations, company policy changes and employee reviews and reprimands should be stored and archived for easy retrieval. By listing all regulation and email retention and communication requirements that your company is subject to by law, your company can create a solution that helps you to stay in compliance and reduce your company’s risk.
- Litigation Support
If you are ever sued, you may be ordered by the court to produce documentation to support your case; such documentation includes emails. However, pulling emails off of a tape drive backup can be a massive undertaking. On the other hand, having years of email history can also play against you in court since longer email retention policies can increase your company’s exposure to legal examination. This occurs when email conversations and decisions are captured in correspondences, leaving a paper trail. To balance this, companies should determine an email archiving solution that meets their needs and addresses the types of email communications that should be saved and the length of time they should be archived.
- Free Up Storage Space
Archiving and retention policies can help you to free up space on your email servers. If you run out of space on your email, it can be quite frustrating. Setting an inbox retention time can automatically help with email storage. A comprehensive email and document management policy should include guidelines for which emails to store and where those emails should be saved. While each company’s needs are unique, a general guideline for email archiving best practices includes saving emails pertaining to company policy changes, decisions made by company leadership, administrative and human resource correspondence, invoices and receipts.
- Improve Workflow Systems and Procedures
Another benefit to email archiving is your ability to search, document and organize information pertaining to servicing customers, delivering a product, sending out a proposal and selecting vendors. Establishing protocols for email archiving can help you recall important conversations for past projects should you need to look back to see why a decision was made. An email archiving system would allow you to perform searches of both keywords and attachments to find emails in minutes—even seconds—rather than hours or days. This can be a huge help should you need to quickly recall a critical email.
So how do you design and implement an email retention policy that works for your company?
By working with your IT provider and your legal department or company leadership, you can make sure that all requirements are being met and that you are implementing a solution that works best for your company’s unique needs. There are many important decisions to keep in mind that will impact each area of your company, and it’s likely that each department will advocate for certain retention periods or prefer one solution over another. Working with a professional can help you stay on track while navigating the legal requirements and technology options.
If you’re ready to design an email retention policy that works for your company, contact your Warren Averett Technology Group consultant today or ask a member of our team reach out to you