5 Things to Audit for Your Email Retention Strategy
You know that you need an email retention strategy to adequately run your business, because email is part of the unstructured data that organisations have to learn to manage. But you’re already strapped for time, so email archiving gets overlooked in favour of projects that are deemed more important.
However, you must take a moment to address email retention because of the significant (and not always positive) impact it could have on your organisation. When you think of how you can protect your business from the pitfalls of non-compliance with strict email retention laws, then its importance becomes increasingly clear.
There are 5 things you need to review to get your strategy covered:
1. Your Requirements
Do you know what kind of emails you are required to retain, and for how long? Since these vary, you need to make sure you’re aware of any new regulations apply to your industry or locale. The email retention laws in Victoria will be different to those in New South Wales.
2. Your Policy
Next, you need to audit your policy and whether it can be improved. Is your current email archiving system useful? Does it empower your organisation or does it silo data so that it’s not available to anyone except those who own it?
A good example would be PST files – they are outdated, difficult to use, and leave too much room for human error. Employees may be aware of their responsibilities but fail to follow through on them, especially when it comes to backing up their PST files. Or they could accidentally delete an email that by law you are required to retain – and may be needed in a future dispute.
3. Your Tools
In auditing the software and hardware that’s being used to retain email, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does it allow you to easily search through your archive? There’s no point having a massive data warehouse if no one can benefit from it. Your archive should be able to apply filters to pick out what you need, as eDiscovery is a time and resource intensive process.
- How well can you scale? Since email is the main way that businesses communicate, you will always have more of it to retain every day. So you need to make sure that you don’t spend too much on adding data limits to your inbox, or buying more rack space.
- Can you ensure archive security? This is a big one for compliance purposes. Consider role-based access as a way of making sure users are limited to what they need to access (and no one can permanently delete anything).
Use the above to figure out whether you could benefit from upgrading your current email archiving tools.
4. Your Natural Disaster Plan
If your email archiving system is on-premises, how do you ensure contingency in the event of a natural disaster? You must have a backup plan so that all is not lost in such an event. Consider migrating your data to a cloud-based archive.
5. Your Audit Calendar
How often do you go through your email retention strategy? It’s not the most riveting of projects, but you should be reviewing once a quarter at the bare minimum. You don’t want to ignore it until it’s too late, and your organisation faces serious consequences.
Take the time to step back and review your email retention policy on the above items and you will be in a better place to respond to eDiscovery requests, as well as comply with strict email retention laws.
For information on email retention and compliance in Australia, download our free ebook:
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