The importance of being Ernest: with e-mail

I see it almost weekly now that some investigation or inquiry into a scandal or political wrongdoing relies more and more on email as evidence.

Either the emails can’t be found (for obvious reasons) or when they are found they illuminate a further chain of evidence that the guilty party can’t hide.  All in all it points to the importance of a public sector organization to properly manage and store email in accordance with legislative guidelines and record keeping principles.

In the past records management was viewed as a dull and lackluster practice of storing physical documents in the basement of the department.  However; in today’s world it only takes one leaked email of a politician to highlight record management’s importance.

Email is like so many new forms of information (such as instant messages, images, voice mail, social media messages, etc.) have been overlooked mostly as a formal record.  As I work with government departments around the world I have noticed that managing email as a record is becoming more and more prevalent.  The hard part is to manage it well.   Backup tapes or copies will not cut it; therefore proper classification and metadata is needed with a robust governance strategy.  Information Lifecycle Governance (ILG) becomes the means to the end to ensure that risk and security of information in email is managed effectively and efficiently.

ILG then begs a few questions.  Who will own the management of email at the end of the day? Who will communicate and enforce the governance rules to all users ? What will the file plan look like?  I have worked with many organizations on how they can effectively incorporate email into the their overall governance and information management strategy.

The federal team of IBM ECM worked on a pilot project with a US Military agency on automatically classifying email as a record.  I would encourage you to read the whitepaper on this project to see some interesting and eye opening capabilities in being to automate records declaration and management; such as storage savings and efficiency gains.

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