Hi everyone! Now that Vista, Exchange, and the Office System are available to businesses, we thought we’d switch gears on this blog. So far, the blog has focused on the records management capabilities in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. However, around the office, we always talk about compliance and records management as spanning the entire information lifecycle and not just one particular product or service. When we were researching customer needs for the 2007 release, one of the themes we constantly heard was that there is a need to manage all types of content – no matter where it lives – and a need to integrate various products together for a complete end-to-end experience.
E-mail is a key type of content in organizations. Therefore, the next couple posts will focus on managing the information contained in corporate e-mail. We’ll introduce some of the compliance and records management features in Microsoft Exchange 2007 and Microsoft Outlook 2007. Of course, we’ll be sure to mention the tight integration with MOSS 2007 as well.
At first glance, e-mail is a pretty strange place to talk about records management. When most people think of managing corporate records, they think of archiving signed contracts, financial statements, and the like. They don’t think of trying to manage ad hoc communications like e-mail.
Increasingly, though, e-mail is where a lot of an organization’s important information lives. A recent AIIM survey showed that over 70% of information workers spend a fifth of their time or more on e-mail related tasks. Certainly here at Microsoft we live in an e-mail centric world. On average, over 3 million e-mail messages are sent internally within Microsoft every day!
For many organizations, what used to be communicated in written memos or other easily archivable formats is now being sent as e-mail. Since e-mail is where business is being conducted, important information that needs to be retained is stored there as well.
What’s more, the need to manage e-mail has been emphasized in recent headlines. For instance, this year marked a landmark case in electronic records retention: Perelman vs. Morgan Stanley. In this case, Morgan Stanley was heavily punished by the judge for consistently failing to produce e-mail records during the discovery process. On several occasions, employees at Morgan Stanley found tape backups of e-mail records related to the case even after the company signed statements stating that they had turned over all relevant records. Morgan Stanley had no consistent process in place for managing the flow of information in e-mail, and this could end up costing the firm hundreds of millions of dollars.
Flashy court cases aren’t the only wake up call, though. The oft-mentioned changes to Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure finally codify the requirement to manage electronic information. Specifically, these new rules focus on the eDiscovery process and they make it clear that companies must have a policy for managing all types of electronic information, regardless of where it is stored. If you want to learn more, our partner Iron Mountain has an excellent whitepaper on the new rules.
And yet, in a recent ARMA survey, 43% of respondents have no plan for managing e-mail records. So we have a situation where a lot of information is being generated, there is a new and urgent need to manage that information flow, and most companies don’t have a plan yet.
It was with this customer problem in mind that we developed a solution to the e-mail management problem. As we describe the solution in the next few blog posts, we’ll be talking about things like:
· How end users can classify e-mail messages according to a corporate schema
· How e-mail can be retained and then ultimately deleted based on its classification
· How storage quotas can be enforced on individual folders (e.g. this folder is limited to 200MB)
· How important e-mail can be sent to a SharePoint Records Center – directly from the Outlook client
· How Exchange and Outlook search can be used to search for e-mail during the eDiscovery process
To a certain degree, managing e-mail is very different from managing other corporate records. The sheer volume of information requires broad strokes and less attention to each individual item. Process and rules becomes very important.
However, even though there are some differences, records are records because of their content, not their format. So we’ve made sure that the e-mail management features we’ll describe in the next few posts align with the “big picture” we outlined in the early posts on this blog. Themes like “low tax on the end user” and “low deployment costs” will run through our e-mail experience as well.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned!