Part 6: Retention Policy – Remember the End-users

In the previous 5 installments of this series, we’ve covered everything from driving factors in building your retention policies to data storage and access and even what to look for in a mail archiving software solution. Now, for a very important question; how does your new retention policy and email archiving system effect your end-users?
So, where do we start? First, you should really define who the end-users are. I see them as 2 groups; Mail file owners and Legal personnel. These groups will be the ones who are affected most with the changes to your email data storage policies.

Mail file owners:
As an owner of the mail file, it’s ‘my’ data that will be affected. While it is really not the user’s data, they will feel that way. If they can’t find what they need in the email server archive after you have implemented an email archiving software, they will be the ones calling the help desk to complain. You want to consider a few simple points to make it less stressful on this group:

  • Give them easy access to the data that has been archived. As an end-user, they should not have a hard time finding their data whether it’s a Notes mail archive or Exchange mailbox archive.
  • Allow them to search for it. They’re not going to remember if the data they need is in the mail file or in archived data, so make it easy on them.
  • Once they get to their data, don’t make it in some proprietary format they’re not going to recognize and be able to work with easily.

Legal personnel:
This group of people is going to have a completely different feeling of how this data should be handled. These tips may help as you build out the information stores for your legal team.

  • Organize the data the best you can. This may be by year, location, department or even a combination of these methods. If your policy states that data is removed after xx years, organizing by year will make it easy to remove later on. Often times, legal is not searching all data but subsets within a specific date range. If the data is organized by year, it will provide them with a smaller subset of data to look through, resulting in faster searches.
  • Get them the data they need. I know it sounds basic, but really, this is all they care about. Most likely, they are not going to open the data and read the documents one by one. So make it easy for them to locate what they need.

End-users will honestly want everthing they have ever sent and received. Legal will only want what they feel is needed to stay compliant with their retention polices. Do your best to make both sides happy, but in the end, legal and your policy will drive what you need to do, and you’ll be free to focus on other information management challenges.

To see how Sherpa Software’s solutions help maintain the balance between the needs of the organization and end-users, check out www.sherpasoftware.com.

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