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Five email archiving best practices

From understanding email archiving needs to implementing a document retention policy, this tip offers best practices to help you effectively sell and implement email archiving solutions.

Help customers understand why they need email archiving

Many IT managers don't understand why exactly they need email archiving before researching an email archiving solution. They may just be reacting to one issues – like an audit – rather than many more potential issues that may arise later – like Sarbanes-Oxley storage compliance. Make sure they know they can solve various problems with email archiving, from litigation support to storage management.

Create or update e-mail retention policy to reflect business needs.

Many of your customers won't have an up-to-date data retention policy. A good policy will address what the document retention policy covers, the customer's data retention philosophy, responsibilities and procedures. It will also have retention timeframes for all types of records, including unstructured data like Microsoft Office files, semistructured records like email and structured records like mainframe databases.

Regularly perform a legal or regulatory refresh.

Be sure you have a plan to review customers' data retention policies annually to address changing laws and regulations. Government agencies won't inform them of the changes.

Include all stakeholders in a data retention policy

A data retention policy should reflect input from everyone in a company because it will affect everyone in a company. Help a customer create a team that represents most departments, and interview employees on how and why they create documents; if they reference them later; and where they store the documents.

Simplify retention schedules

Create "high water marks" for similar types of documents, so employees follow one retention period that meets all retention requirements for all employee-related records. That will be much easier than having them try to remember various retention periods.

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About the author: Bill Tolson is practice manager for Contoural, Inc., an independent provider of business and technology consulting services that focuses on compliance, intelligent data management and storage strategy.

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