If you’re anything at all like the majority of modern workplaces your day-to-day business is taking place almost entirely over email. Emails are what drive both your inter-employee and client-based communication and because of this they contain valuable company data assets – lots of information that you may need to access at some point in the future. This is especially true if and when any legal issues arise. Email data is able to be subpoenaed by an investigatory body and this means that you need to understand both which company data is being stored (and which is not) and how to access it appropriately when the time comes. With that valuable data scattered throughout thousands of emails in and out of employee mailboxes how can this be accomplished effectively? Archiving provides an answer and email archiving applications exist to help your business plan and manage your data accordingly.
Archiving is a process whereby emails are removed from inboxes but not deleted. Instead they are stored indefinitely and thus always searchable. The reasons to begin archiving your company’s emails are simple: you want to protect your business’s most important data and you need stay in compliance with the law. Think of the archive as a company-curated file cabinet that can be opened and searched easily when necessary. Because emails are such a rich source of inter-corporate information electronic discovery (e-discovery) has quickly become a major component of investigations big and small. Because of this businesses simply must have policies in place for managing their email communications effectively.
EMAIL ARCHIVING FEATURES
Microsoft Office 365 and Google each have archiving software solutions (Google’s is called Google Vault) with a similar feature set that is customizable to support your specific business needs. They each allow all users basic email archiving ability which is individually configurable as well as administrator-level multiple user configuration options. Admins can adjust the amount of time (un-archived) emails are retained after user deletion as this time period will be based on the specifics of your email data policy and on any compliance standards you are upholding. Admins can also selectively filter and auto-archive certain user emails based on search criteria (keywords, email addresses, etc…) or toggle which users’ data is being archived in full at any given point. The former means it’s easy to create and enact policy around which types of data you’d specifically like to retain indefinitely while the latter process of “placing a hold” is typically used if your company feels litigation is imminent for a specific user. Each service also provides admins with auditing features and rich data reports – on other words the ability to see what actions your users have taken over time and to analyze the information externally as you like.
Office 365 and Google Vault also offer e-discovery advanced search features for finding user data contained across calendars, archive and other email folders, and email attachments. It is worth noting that with Google Vault you can also find information about files contained on Google Drive (Office 365 has no analogue to Google Drive at this time). Office 365 on the other hand provides an interesting feature that Google lacks: the ability as an administrator to search for and delete messages from user inboxes. This would be helpful if sensitive information were accidentally sent out (Microsoft details the process here).
What’s most important to understand is that as business communications across email continue to expand e-discovery and email archiving practices will mature and expand as well. Your business needs to be prepared to file, retain, and reproduce corporate email data appropriately.
If you need more information about email archiving please don’t hesitate to contact Bi101 for a free consultation on your specific needs!