Information management challenges exist when you begin an email retention policy project because it can mean changes for the way people interact with their email. These projects often contain several complexities including keeping end-users in compliance with the policy and keeping mail quotas from continually reaching the limit. As you consider these many complexities, remember a rule-based, server side archiving system may be the solution to serve all stakeholders, while achieving a sizeable ROI. Independent consultant, Rob Axelrod digs deeper into this topic in part two of his three-part series entitled, “Deriving ROI from your Domino Archiving Environment.”


By Rob Axelrod

The question of whether to and how to archive, and where its benefits are, is bound up in three areas: compliance, user productivity, and server/client performance. Here, in Part 2 of my three-part article, I delve deeper into compliance and cover the significant opportunities for ROI around compliance when you implement a powerful, rules-based archiving system in your environment.

Imagine this scenario: A company’s legal department has developed a document retention policy that contains the following key rules:

  • All emails that are not considered official business records should be deleted within 90 days.
  • Anything that is deemed a standard business record needs to be retained for a minimum of a year and in some cases longer, depending on the nature of the document. Once that time has elapsed, these documents should be deleted as well.
  • These rules are documented and users are expected to read and comply with them.

Seems simple enough, right? All you would need to do is implement a tool that would allow users to flag the official records, and then have a process that would delete any documents that were either not marked as such or that were older than 90 days. Here is the catch: What if this company also had mail quotas where users were running up against the limit on a regular basis because of the quantity of mail that they received? What would users do to stay under the limit? They could delete documents, including ones that the policy designated should be retained, but that would significantly impact their productivity because they need those documents for their work.

In reality, the user’s solution was to use the local archiving feature of Notes to move their documents into a local lotus archive. Since it would be tedious to select individual documents to archive, most users would just schedule archiving to move all documents older than 60 days into their local archives. This created a compliance situation that was the worst of all worlds:

  • Documents were being moved to the local archive before the server-based document management agents could prune the mail files.
  • Users would never manually prune their local archives, so documents that should have been deleted were effectively retained forever.
  • Documents that should be retained now only exist on a local hard drive and are vulnerable to loss through corruption and hard drive failure.
  • Worst of all (this is where the ediscovery compliance ROI comes in), when the organization is facing legal action, those local archives become fair game for discovery.

The cost to do discovery on local archives and the exposure that is presented by the indefinite retention of documents in non-regulated organizations is tremendous. Imagine the same retention rules, but with a server-based archiving system that helps users to follow the rules. A server-based application could be configured to look for documents that met specific criteria, such as flagging by the user, and those documents could be moved into an archive on the server after a specified period of time. The archives are backed up and secure; they are searchable by both the user and legal teams without having to inconvenience the user. You would be able to increase the users’ quotas on their primary mail files since you would know that no users would be frivolously retaining documents since to retain a document they would need to take a positive action on it. While there are initial set-up costs to implement the mail archiving software and server, those costs would be quickly recouped in the reduced time required for the discovery process, and more so if a single incident of litigation was decided in favor of the company as a result of the improved archiving process.

The above example assumes a company in which retention policies are determined by the inside counsel. The value of having a rule-based, server-side archiving system increases significantly if you move to an organization that is specifically regulated by industry or governmental bodies. Then, in addition to the nebulous benefits around discovery and litigation costs, you have more concrete cost savings around avoidance of fines and censure. Based on the current economic climate, getting IT funding for just about any project is difficult but this is one that can be made much easier with a little help from outside of IT. In almost all cases the need to archive is driven by either Legal or Human Resources. Since disks have become relatively inexpensive and IT can provide multi-gigabyte mail files, the problem of retention and archiving falls even more heavily on those other groups. Five years ago archiving was often driven by the need to save space on a primary mail server. Now the driver really does need to come from compliance. The good news to getting this project off the ground is that while disk costs have come down, the cost of non-compliance with document retention policies has gone up.

Look out for the last part of the three part series where I will cover the value to your organization of having a centralized system for journaling and discovery.

Are you looking for a solution that will help you achieve a return on investment from your Domino Server software environment? Check out Sherpa Software’s Mail Attender at

Other articles in the series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3