While people rarely archive their personal email correspondence, companies are legally required to do so – in the US anyway. Deleting business communication is simply not done in companies that are committed to maintaining a high degree of operational transparency and data organization. That is precisely why archiving emails is a practice governed by various legal bodies not only in the US, but also across Europe and other parts of the world.
WHAT IS EMAIL ARCHIVING?
Removing emails from the inbox in a systematic way to be stored in a specific location where they can be accessed by authorized personnel at any point – that is the gist of archiving email correspondence. Seeing that business communication contains sensitive information for all involved parties, companies are obligated to ensure information safety in the time frame specific to their regional and industry requirements.
Aside from safe information storage, companies need to be able to quickly access specific emails, as well as their attachments and other files, should the need arise.
Top of the line email archiving solutions offer plenty of options in regard to what information can be searched in email correspondence to speed up and facilitate the process and respond to standing eDiscovery demands. Moreover, they all tie into the benefits of this particular practice.
With that in mind, let’s examine more closely why companies need to rethink their email management policies to ensure compliance and avoid hefty fines.
EASIER EMAIL MANAGEMENT
Email is still the most used form of business communication with 97% of all communication going through this channel. Hence, the entire concept of email archiving rests upon the notion that all information relayed in this manner is confidential and needs to be handled carefully. Sometimes a deal going through can depend on a single number sent in an email, but can only be used if found quickly when needed.
Therefore, establishing a wholesome communication archiving policy on the company level will ensure easier management of copious amounts of data in a uniform manner. Cleaning up the inbox on a regular basis directly correlates to keeping track of priority tasks and important information, while still having access to the archives.
ENSURED DATA SAFETY
Email archiving is the opposite of deleting emails. While users still get a cleaner inbox and achieve better email management, the benefit here is that they haven’t removed the data and can still gain access as necessary.
In this sense, changing the location of email correspondence also ensures it is not removed with the malicious intent or by accident. Once stored separately, emails can be accessed by authorized personnel:
- Account administrator
- Compliance officer
- End user
Some email archiving solutions have developed permission systems that also allow the creation of custom roles and a different set of search options in accordance with specific requirements.
Moreover, different storage options come with different sets of pros and cons, which is why companies choose between on premise solutions, cloud storage, and most recently a hybrid of the two – virtual deployment. In all cases, archiving service providers have no access to the data until requested and physically allowed by customer companies.
QUICK ACCESS TO INFORMATION
Together with organized, safe email storage goes gaining quick access when needed. Email archiving is especially useful when companies receive eDiscovery requests and need to produce evidence in a litigation.
Because of the sheer size of company email databases, and the degree of detail to which information is stored, searching through files and metadata can be very time-consuming. This can pose a serious problem for companies that need to produce evidence within a time frame – especially a short one. That is why archiving software is developed in such a way that considerably accelerates the process of checking and extracting the needed information.
In essence, high-quality email archiving solutions have numerous search options precisely for this reason:
- Search via sender’s or recipients’ address (including CC and BCC)
- Search via subject line, email body or attachments
- Search by email size
- Search by date
- Combination of a number of criteria
GUARANTEED EMAIL COMPLIANCE
Depending on the location of their operations as well as in which industry, companies are legally required to safely store business information in its original form for a certain amount of time.
Therefore, to achieve and maintain email compliance, companies are increasingly more turning to archiving not only email, but also other forms of digital communication – social media and instant messages, client and customer information, patient information, etc.
In this sense, each industry brings its own set of archiving rules that companies need to follow or face legal and financial penalties.
For example, HIPAA states that all medical institutions must keep patient information for future reference for a period of at least seven years, must be shared and relayed via secure channels only, and kept in according to predetermined standards.
Therefore, when creating email retention policies, companies must do so with utmost precision and attention – consult all relevant legal documents, hire qualified professionals for implementation, appoint responsible persons for proper execution, as well as choose the appropriate tools to support the strategy.
PREVENTION OF COSTLY LITIGATION
Companies involved in litigation can be called to provide evidence before a court of law, which is one of the reasons they are legally required to keep records of business communications for a particular amount of time. When such information is not stored properly, retrieving it can be very costly.
While some may argue that implementing email archiving solutions is expensive as well, having none in place can result in much bigger costs. Fines are issued in millions and billions of dollars to those companies that have not presented records in time, or at all.
On the other hand, access to relevant information can also save companies large amounts of money and time spent on legal battles, when provided evidence results in a positive verdict.
In the end, the fear of huge, unforeseen costs are what is driving companies to make sure they are prepared for potential litigation with other business entities or present or former employees.
Email archiving may be a relatively new business practice, with only a decade or two of modern history, but has quickly proven to be effective in ensuring continuous operational flow, legal compliance and financial stability. For all those reasons, and many more, it is a necessity in any company that is striving toward long-term existence and growth.