For most office workers, sending and responding to emails no longer feels like a set task, but rather something that must be done constantly and, in some cases, nearly automatically—almost like breathing. Just look at the numbers: by the end of this year, we’ll have sent and received more than 215 billion emails. By the end of 2020? Over 257 billion.
That’s a lot of emails.
It’s also a lot of important information. Think about all the documents, images and data stored in the average inbox—not to mention the key correspondences, brainstorm sessions and decisions made. Is your company doing what it needs to do to protect this intellectual property? Read on to learn more about some aspects of email archiving that growing businesses should consider.
Let’s start with the basics. Email archiving is exactly what it sounds like: the process of storing and making searchable a person’s emails. And it’s required by law.
Ten years ago, regulations were put into place that require all businesses to keep electronic records of business data, including emails. In case of a lawsuit, each record must be easily retrievable—which means you can’t rely on a general backup. In other words, “I can’t find that file” is not an acceptable excuse.
Certain businesses must also adhere to additional regulations. Publicly traded companies, for instance, need to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, while healthcare and insurance providers must meet HIPAA requirements.
In-house or hosted?
For a business, email archiving means storing every email sent and received by every employee—even those messages that have been deleted from individual inboxes. But where are you going to store those emails?
The first option is to set up an in-house server, allowing all emails to be stored on-site. This method allows for the most flexibility, as you’ll have more control over the platform and can file information precisely how you choose. However, it’s expensive—in terms of both up-front cost and continued maintenance. You’ll need to set up and install the physical servers and pay members of your IT department to manage them.
The other option is to choose a hosted solution, where you pay a third-party source to store your company’s emails for you. This method allows you to access information via the cloud and eliminates the high cost of an on-site server. However, it also reduces control, as specific platform functionality is dictated by the provider.
Neither option is necessarily more secure than the other. Choosing between the two will come down to specific requirements. Is your business cash-flush and in need of a high level of storage control? If so, you may want to choose an in-house option. Otherwise, consider saving money by outsourcing.
Bells and whistles
Whether you’ve chosen an on-site or hosted solution, there are some additional features you may want to think about. For instance, if it would be valuable for your employees to be able to search through past emails—even those up to a decade old—consider implementing desktop access. All that stored information doesn’t just have to sit there, so to speak, waiting to be useful in some future litigation.
And what about other forms of communication? If desired, it’s also possible to archive telephone conversations, instant messages and tweets.
Before you make any choices about what platform you’ll use and how you’ll use it, take the time necessary to think through your company’s many wants and needs.