Survey Finds Email Management a Major Legal Discovery Risk
If you follow John Mancini, President of AIIM, on Twitter, then you've heard this news already: Email is still a major Legal Discovey risk.

AIIM (news, site), together with EMC (news, site) and ASG (news, site), conducted a survey on email management with 1,100 AIIM professionals from industries such as government, IT and financial service industries. They asked questions about current policies and processes and what they found was interesting and a little confusing.

Email Ain't Going Anywhere

We all know that whether we really like it or not, email is one of our primary communication tools and often our primary collaboration tool. Now that may be changing with the social computing solutions that are coming into the enterprise, but it's not going to change over night. And it's certainly not going to change completely.

So organizations have to think carefully about email policies and procedures and ensure they are followed. They also have to have solutions in place to support discovery of information stored within email servers and archives. There is no way around this.

With regulations and compliance requirements coming out the wazzu, one does have to wonder why organizations are still failing to manage their email content better.

Maybe even more important on a day to day basis, searching for information hidden in personal email folders or on email servers is a serious time drain and often a major pain in the butt.

The Email Management Survey

The survey is titled, Email Management – the good, the bad, the ugly. It was conducted over the web with approximately 1,100 members of the AIIM community between March 23 and April 23, 2009.

This survey considers an email management system either a standalone solution or an integration of an enterprise content management or records management system and an email client.

Topics covered in the survey report include:

  • The Importance of Email management
  • Technologies in Place to Support Email Management
  • How Companies are Dealing with Growing Email Volumes
  • Business Drivers for Email Management, including compliance and legal discovery
  • Future Plans for Addressing the Issues Related to Email Management
  • Levels of Spending

And Survey Says...

We spend a lot of our work day in our email client. According to the survey, respondents spend more than an hour and a half per day processing their emails, with one in five spending three or more hours of their day and over half have hand-held access to email on phones, Blackberries and PDAs.

Top Email Concerns

Because we spend so much time there, we all have issues related to how email is managed. The figure below shows the top issues that concern organizations with regards to email. Archiving topped the list, probably because most don't have an archiving solution in place. Closely following archiving is compliance and legal discovery and findability.


Top 3 Issues Related to Email

Finding Information Fast

The survey also says that one-third of organizations have no policy to deal with legal discovery and:

  • 40% would likely have to search back-up tapes
  • 23% feel they would have gaps from deleted emails
  • Only 16% have retention policies that would justify deleted emails

All of which leads to why the figure below shows it could take up to 30 days to pull together all the information related to a particular client (or case).


Time to Product Organizational Information Related to a Client

Dealing with Important Emails

This one is interesting, respondents were asked what the standard practice was for dealing with important emails. Over 40% stored "important" emails in their personal Outlook folders. Wow. Better hope that guy isn't on vacation when you need to pull together the information required for legal discovery. Printing and filing paper copies doesn't make a lot of sense in this day and age either.


Standard Practices for Important Emails

There's a lot more interesting information available in this survey. Much of it still demonstrates that organizations still continue to ignore the potential threats that come with a lack of email management.

But it also goes to show that we don't value our time as much as we should. Information should be at our finger tips, but not by clicking and typing and searching everywhere on earth.

Information important to our work will continue to be stored in email, but organizations really need to manage that storage just a little bit better.

What to Learn More?

One of the nice things about AIIM research is that it's free. This is thanks in part to the contributions of EMC and ASG as underwriters of this report. AIIM is quick to point out that although EMC and ASG supported the survey, they did not influence the results in any way.

You can download the full report and get all the findings for yourself.