Future Proof update May 2009 – Email overload! Time to tame the monster May 20, 2009

Is your organisation being choked with emails? Are so many emails being sent and received that the problem of managing them has become gargantuan in proportion? Does it sometimes seem easier to ignore the problem than look for those elusive solutions?

The good news is you are not alone!

NSW government organisations receive millions of emails each year, with an estimated 40% – 80% of these related to official business. State Records has estimated that government organisations only capture between 0% and 40% of business emails. An estimated 119 million emails are not being captured each year.

The bad news is there is no silver bullet for this monster of a problem. State Records often receives enquiries regarding email management and our advice is always the same. It is the responsibility of all NSW government organisations to ensure that email is appropriately dealt with as a record.

State Records advises that to effectively manage your corporate email there are three requirements necessary. These are:

  • An appropriate technical solution in place
  • Clear policy and procedures
  • Ongoing staff training in email management.

Almost all email – related enquiries relate in one way or another to the above requirements.

Technical Solution

An appropriate technical solution will enable people to place emails in the correct location and remove the need to use email vaults and back up tapes.

Policy and procedures

Clear policy and procedures help to identify what needs to be captured, who should capture and when emails should be captured.

Ongoing training

Staff training encourages correct practice.

All organisations have different cultures. Some will enthusiastically jump on the email and records management train while others will prefer to leave the problem to someone else or worse – ignore it. No matter the organisational culture, the quicker you begin to deal with emails, the faster you will see results and the problem will begin to reduce in size. Slowly people will begin to change their practices and the monster within that is email mismanagement will be tamed.

If you have any suggestions or helpful hints to your fellow ‘Email tamers’ please let us know! The Future Proof blog is there for your use.

State Records recommends that anyone trying to manage emails review the email management section in Managing Digital Records guideline as well as looking at Recordkeeping in Brief 49: Emails and recordkeeping.

One Comments
katharines May 22nd, 2009

Web 2.0 technologies and tools are on the rise, including in Government. In the not too distant future (if nto now) people will use a wider variety of communication tools rather than relying on email. However there is still the problem of email, especially the huge email stores that need to be addressed. Picking up a new technology for communication does not remove the current problem, it just hides it for awhile.

No matter what technology or tool is in use, the problem of recordkeeping still remains. As communication tools become more streamlined with business processes, records management needs to keep up. Sending emails back and forth can disrupt the business flow and get messy. New tools should be examined and recordkeeping should be aware of the potential these tools offer.

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