Email management is difficult. Apart from the problem of unstructured enterprise information floating around in several systems, email is often used by staff as a collaboration tool rather than a method of  communication. 

The result can be chaos. However, there are many email management solutions on the market that can help you. But which one do you choose? AIIM's (news, site) email management  educational program, might be able to help you start the process of picking one.

AIIM points out that the very first thing you need to do is to understand what your requirements are before even looking at what each of the different systems can do, or achieve. And in the interest of helping enterprises decide that, AIIM's email management specialist Carl Weise has compiled a list around four subject areas enterprises must address.

1. What Are Your Platform Requirements?

In  respect of a company's platform, Weise says companies must identify under what platform the email management system will be operating, and then find out the requirements that platform has for successful deployment.

There are four considerations in this respect. These include:

  • Email Application: Most companies use a single type of email server that facilitates all email needs. However, if this is not the case, you need to identify exactly what kind of email needs you have and what you hope the system you are considering can provide.
  • Email client: Many email management solutions are hosted so its not that important, but some rely on plug-ins, or client integration. You need to know.
  • Protocols: List what protocols you need depending on desired functionality e.g. SMTP relays can interact with all messaging applications, while log shipping is only supported on Exchange 2007.
  • Server: What operating system and version?  Some solutions only work on Windows Server 2003, for example.
  • User Operating System: You need to be clear about  what operating systems your company will be using with the email management system as some plug-ins or clients don’t work on some systems.

2. Archiving Requirements

Given the importance of compliance and eDiscovery, and the fact that huge amounts of information in relation to these processes are contained in email, you must be certain that you have have deployed  a sufficiently robust and secure email archiving system.

Issues that need to be considered include:

  • Will your new  system support single instance storage?
  • Does the system you are looking at have auto-archive, or will you need to archive manually?
  • Does it need to manage personal archive files, or should such files be excluded from the system?
  • What kind of import/export protocols do you need? Do users need to import files from personal storage?

3. Dealing With Litigation Issues

If your email management system is likely to contain files related to litigation issues you will need to be careful about the way they are managed, where they are located, and who can see them.

In this respect issues to consider include:

  • Will your system  be holding files that may be used in litigation?
  • What kind of files will need to be stored and where are they currently stored in your system?
  • What kind of search abilities will you need in your system? Will your company, for example, need to search across all email boxes, personal email boxes, or do you need automatic search by department or subject?
  • For litigation purposes, will you need to keep files in native formats?
  • What kind of email status alerts do you need? Should your system indicate the status of the email, whether it’s been seen, reviewed, or due for destruction? Will you need to flag emails  for archiving or even for entry into your records management system?

4. Email Management and Records Management

While email management and records management are two separate systems, more and more they need to interact as more and more records are being transferred by email. As a result, you will probably need an email management system that can export to your enterprise content management system and through that to your records management system.

The key here is retention related requirements i.e. what needs to be kept and exported and what can be junked? Considerations here might include:

  • Do you want your system to be able to classify messages as records or no?
  • Will it need to preserve messages throughout the entire email life cycle in case of mishap?
  • Will you need a  tamper proof system with a log of entry and exit?
  • Do you need to integrate a formal records retention schedule into the application?

These considerations are only the tip of the iceberg that could sink your email management strategy. They need to be answered before even looking at the many products out there

If you are looking for help with this from a vendor neutral perspective, AIIM have specialist training programs that will provide you with much of the information you need before making a decision. If the above considerations sound like a foreign language, then it might just be an idea to take the training.