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Record Management: On the Offensive Against Storage Costs

Most email and instant message archiving is done by copying or moving mail from the mail server to a repository. Mail left on the mail server tends to degrade the speed of the service, so both users and IT staff appreciate the value of archiving. Although the cost of storage continues to decrease per gigabyte, as the volume of mail increases, so does the amount of storage required, adding expense into the business system.

Therefore, the first goal of record management is to reduce the number of records to be managed. There are a number of common sense steps that companies can take to reduce the number of emails and IMs. Some of them are:

  1. Dont CC or BCC unnecessarily.
  2. Limit the use of "reply to all."
  3. Dont send an e-mail if an IM or phone call will do.
  4. Use links to data instead of sending attachments.
  5. Try blogs instead of email blasts.
  6. Use RSS to push information to those interested.
  7. Unsubscribe to newsletters that are not being read.

Record Management: Software Filters Automate Reduction of Messages
Most document management programs have built-in filters to scan for messages with sensitive data such as Social Security numbers, obscenities, and other inappropriate or confidential information. Depending on the level of filtering, these messages may be flagged but delivered, or isolated, analyzed and removed. The filtering process helps reduce the burden on the mail server and, by extension, on the archive.

Record management software also surveys for personal archives, and can de-duplicate items stored on user-implemented archives so the data is backed up only once--but at least once. Ultimately, less storage equates to faster retrieval when retrieval is necessary.

Record Management: On Defense Against Loss
There are three types of loss that companies must guard against through record management. The first is the loss of company information through the use of mobile devices that can access or receive company email and IMs. Not only is there a danger that, once out of a companys intranet system, there is no audit trail of the information, but the device itself might be lost or stolen. Document management systems cannot trace messages from private devices, but some can disable lost or stolen devices remotely.

The second kind of loss is the deliberate elimination of messages. For example, an IT department might be asked to expunge messages with content dangerous to the career of an individual or the reputation of the company. With a good record management policy and executive backing, dubious acts of data destruction are not likely to occur.

The third type of loss that companies must defend against is legal. In discovery proceedings, companies are not off the hook for producing requested documents, and may even be considered negligent if they do not have a record management policy in place. On the other hand, emails that are not available due to a written policy being followed are defensible.

The take-away is that emails and IMs, despite their ever-increasing volume, should and can be managed.

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