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Finger On The Pulse Of E-Mail

Here are some tips for getting e-mail under control and balancing your company's offensive, defensive, and I.T. requirements.
The next step is to determine your direction from among three basic strategies for E-mail management:

  • Implement an E-mail management solution using only a single vendor and product. It would address your E-mail management requirements only, and wouldn't necessarily provide the ability to address future electronic-records management or electronic-content management needs.
  • Implement an E-mail management solution and an electronic-records-management solution using a single product from one vendor, two products from the same vendor, or two integrated products from two different vendors. The goal: An integrated solution for E-mail management and electronic-records management.
  • Implement E-mail management, electronic-records management, and electronic-content management. This could be implemented using a single product or suite from one vendor, multiple products from one vendor, or multiple integrated products from multiple vendors. The goal: A strategy for electronic-content management that provides integrated components and services to address the range of content-management needs over time, including E-mail management and electronic-records management.
  • Your best bet is often to implement E-mail management as a first defensive step. Keep in mind that it would address your E-mail management requirements only and wouldn't necessarily provide the ability to address future electronic-records management or electronic-content management needs.

    CONSIDER THIS
    Each E-mail management strategy has unique trade-offs. Here are some guidelines to help you decide which is best for your company.
    Strategic Approach Pros Cons
    E-mail management If effective, will adequately fulfill your business requirements for E-mail only Fails to address any electronic or paper record except for E-mail and attachments
    Particularly targeted at high-priority needs, reducing E-mail discovery costs Requires an additional repository for archived E-mails
    Can be minimally disruptive to users, business processes, and IT Most vendors are either somewhat unstable or offer limited electronic content-management integration
    Electronic-records and E-mail management If effective, can adequately fulfill your major business requirements for both electronic records and E-mail Few vendors can adequately fulfill requirements for both E-mail and non-E-mail records
    Addresses all electronicrecords Most vendors are either unstable or have proprietary electronic-content-management strategies
    Could manage paper records More expensive and complex than E-mail-only option
    Permits a unified strategic policy and practice approach to all company records Potentially high risk if two separate products are used
    Can be minimally disruptive to users, business processes, and IT  
    Data: Doculabs

    Addressing E-mail first offers several advantages. E-mail is a high-risk area, but it can be addressed at an enterprise level, unlike other areas of records management that require a more heterogeneous approach. An effective management project will adequately fulfill your business requirements for E-mail only, reduce E-mail exposure-and-discovery costs, and be nonintrusive. It would be only minimally disruptive to users, business processes, and the IT environment.

    You'll need to be wary of the corresponding drawbacks. For instance, this approach fails to address any electronic or paper records except for E-mail and attachments, so understand that E-mail management is the first phase of a long implementation program to address records across your company. This approach requires at least an additional repository for archived E-mails and will have other IT implications.

    DoculabsFinally, most E-mail management vendors either are somewhat unstable or have limited comprehensive records-management and electronic-content management stra- tegic integration, so it's critical to understand the trade-offs among the relevant solution providers.

    David Gaffaney and Richard Medina are analysts and Christine O'Connor is a technical editor at technology-consulting firm Doculabs.

    Illustrartion by Timothy Cook

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