Email Management and SharePoint

My colleagues in the Exchange team have introduced a wealth of new capabilities in Exchange 2010 to support email archiving, retention and discovery but I’m often asked how an organization should think about managing emails in SharePoint as part of an overall collaboration and content management strategy.  While there are no hard and fast rules, it pays to think about four distinct scenarios:

  1. Personal email management
  2. Project and case management
  3. Email archiving
  4. Records management

Each of these scenarios has a set of desired outcomes and set of capabilities that best meet those outcomes so let’s take each one in turn.

Personal email management

Personal email management is all about empowering end users to take control of their inbox, making it easier to organize, find and take action on email.  Users want a mail client that makes it easy to manage email on a day to day basis and expect their IT department to take care of backup and restore.

Project and case management

Project and case management is all about sharing information and managing a group of related artifacts in a single location with a common security model, metadata model and information management policy.  Users are looking for a solution that makes it easy to collaborate and find information while leveraging workflow to drive common business processes.

Email archiving

Email archiving is all about taking control of the proliferation of email within an organization, driving down the cost of provisioning ever increasing inbox requirements and applying broad brush time based disposition.  Email archiving is typically driven by IT who implement rules and retention policy that is typically transparent to end users.

Records management

Records management is all about identifying business critical content, driving appropriate classification and then applying relevant retention management policies.  Accurate classification of content and applying appropriate metadata ensures that information is easy to find and use throughout the enterprise.  At the same time, appropriate use of retention policies ensure that businesses can gracefully age content that is no longer of value while adhering to relevant government and industry regulations.  Email is a critical part of any modern records management strategy and so businesses need to make it easy for end users to identify and classify email that is considered to be business critical content.


Outlook 2010 and Exchange 2010 provide great capabilities to deal with personal email management and email archiving while SharePoint 2010 provides an ideal platform for storing email that is part of project and case management or an effective and encompassing records management strategy.

Of course there is a natural flow or continuum as email may start by being well managed in a user’s inbox, it may have an email archiving policy attached to it but a user may decide to manage it as part of a project and then finally declare the email as a record upon project completion.  As I said at the start, there are no hard and fast rules but hopefully I’ve given you a better frame of reference for working out what systems are required to support email from creation to disposition depending on the required business outcomes.

If you want to hear more about this topic, I’ll be presenting a webinar with Colligo, one of our partners who provide an add-in for Outlook that makes it easy for users to drag and drop email in to SharePoint, applying the appropriate Content Type and metadata attributes as part of the process.  The webinar is on June 17th so sign up now.

Ryan Duguid
Senior Product Manager – ECM and Compliance
Microsoft Corporation

Comments (5)
  1. Todd Partridge says:

    Thanks for this high level overview Ryan.  I'm curious about how deep the integration is between Exchange and SharePoint 2010.  Can email now be single instance archived into SharePoint and managed by a record?  Can this record declaration be initiated by a user in Outlook?  Is the email copied or moved from Exchange to the SharePoint records center?

  2. Counie says:

    I thought that drag and drop functionality between Outlook 2007 and SharePoint 2010 would be an OOTB feature.

    Is it possible to have an email address associated with a document library in order to email content to it ?

    i.e. they can send email ( or cc ) containing business critical content to this email address.

    SharePoint then processes the email and adds it to the relevant location in SharePoint.

  3. @Counie:

    OOTB Options


    Option 1 – Save file manually as an .msg file from Outlook, then upload to SharePoint through SharePoint UI (2003/2007/2010).

    Option 2 – Create a network drive location pointing to your SharePoint site(s) then save to these locations using the Save As dialog in Outlook (2003/2007/2010) – for more details see…/1172-how-to-save-content-from-office-documents-into-sharepoint-2010

    Option 3 – Configure incoming email for SharePoint lists/libraries (each list/library gets its own email address that users can send to). Emails are stored in .eml format not .msg.

    Option 4 – Drag/Drop to File Explorer View of SharePoint Library (Note: Email Attributes and additional column mapping is not captured)

    Option 5 – SharePoint Server connection to Exchange (Server side driven, IT burden, no capture of custom metadata)

    Option 6 – Drag/Drop to a SharePoint discussion Library

    All of the above options have different limitations and depending on your business requirement you will most likely find the options available out of the box are either restrictive or not very user friendly or both.  As you are most likely aware, there are a number of 3rd party products available in the market, including OnePlaceMail (who i am associated with).

    OnePlaceMail – Outlook to SharePoint


    You are welcome to download OnePlaceMail which is delivering Outlook to SharePoint integration  to assist with Email Management and SharePoint.

  4. Avi.Sampson says:

    Great article.  For few out of box SharePoint Outlook integration options the following link can be helpful.

    For 3rd party options, users can try the following Outlook SharePoint plugin

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