Email Retention Schedule – Seeking Input

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I am very new to AIIM and I’m excited to be a part of this community!

I am hoping that you can help me! We are currently in the process of updating our email retention schedule. It would be incredibly helpful to learn how your company or organization are handling email retention. If you don’t mind sharing and answering these questions:

1. How long do you currently retain emails for?

2. Do you have different retention buckets for different groups or one bucket for all?

3. What is your retention on archived emails?

4. How did you determine the length of time for your email retention schedule?

5. Do you have a document management solution that includes emails?

Any input on this is greatly appreciated! I am happy to share as well, if anyone is interested! Thank you!

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TransUnion LLC
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LC,

1. How long do you currently retain emails for? There is no, or should NOT be, a single answer to this as it depends on multiple factors including whether the retention is driven by compliance/legal reasons or if it is business retention (in which case it is going to be very organization specific) along with how the retention schedule is structured (i.e. what are the classifications based on). I think there are really only 2 one-size-fits-all answers: either a) keep forever or b) everything goes after x period of time.

2. Do you have different retention buckets for different groups or one bucket for all? See above.

3. What is your retention on archived emails? I think you’re mixing terms in this one. Retention is to keep for a period of time and then to take some form of disposition action upon. Archive is one of the possible actions, along with destroy, where a decision is made to preserve the item for a very long, or not defined/predetermined period of time.

4. How did you determine the length of time for your email retention schedule? See answer #1

 

Thank you for your input! I’m not necessarily looking for a single answer – I’m more so polling to see what other RIM and IG professionals are doing. Our proposal moves away from retention buckets based on specific groups and instead pushes for a more uniform, all encompassing retention period for all, but this would not impact our archive. What I meant by archived emails is after our emails have reached their predetermined retention period they move from personal inboxes to the archive where only a limited amount of people can access, which is essentially kept forever. This may also change over time.
Thanks again!

TransUnion LLC
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How long do you currently retain emails for?

. Depends on what it is. If it is determined that it is not transitory, then we look at whether it is just correspondence or whether it is correspondence required due to regulatory compliance, or whether it is more than just correspondence. If so, it may need to be retained for much longer. Is it a report? Depending on what the report it is about, it might be kept for a longer period of time.

Do you have different retention buckets for different groups or one bucket for all?
. Our retention schedule is more topic based, with buckets for some specifics. Everything related to one project would be kept for the same retention, whether it is correspondence (emails, letters, faxes) or planning records, reports, results, summaries. Everything that is financial is kept for the same retention, except for year-end records.
. Buckets for regulatory compliance. Example: Alberta Environment (a government office) requires us to report to them whenever a resident complains of water quality, whenever we discover water safety issues, and report to them exactly what we did about the water situation, and notify residents about any potential water situation, etc. Those records are kept much longer.
. Our retention schedule has eight categories, each with eight or more sub categories with different retentions.

What is your retention on archived emails?
. Emails are placed into categories or buckets depending on what they are about. Otherwise, our IT staff do archive all the emails but we don’t see them and don’t have access to them. Only the ones that are determined to be actual records are brought into our EDMS and retained as per our retention schedule.
. Our IT staff do not purge the email archives, so our understanding is that they could restore an email from years ago if we suddenly realized that there was one that we needed that we did not bring into the EDMS.

How did you determine the length of time for your email retention schedule?
. Not specifically emails, but our retentions all are set partly due to Acts & Regulations for municipalities, partly due to the knowledge of our staff and how long they felt the records might be needed, partly due to whether the topics in the records were of historical value or valuable to us or the public for research purposes.

Do you have a document management solution that includes emails?
. We have our EDMS software for our records, which includes emails, and we do bring emails into this software, however, there is another (third party) software that we could purchase that would be like a connection between our EDMS (Laserfiche) and our email software (MS Outlook) that would make it much easier for our staff to manage email records that need to be kept. They could “declare” any email string as a record and add a few other details that the software would need and the software would take care of the rest. We have not yet made the decision to purchase that software. In the meantime, we rely on our staff to make decisions on each email as to whether it is a record and to take the effort to get it into our EDMS. We know we are currently not getting all of our email records into the EDMS. More needs to be done here!

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Sedgewick, AB CANADA
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Thank you so much! This is beyond helpful to me! Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions – my boss will definitely appreciate this, too!

Cheers,
LC

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TransUnion LLC
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Hi
How long do you currently retain emails for?
. Email messages must be saved to the approved recordkeeping system (if available) e.g. Objective, TRIM, etc. Just like other corporate records, email messages need to be identified, retrieved, and retained for as long as they are needed. Identification means linking the record to the business activity from which it results and related to records using the business classification scheme (BCS).
. Appropriate disposal rules (based on BCS) will determine retention of email (which maybe automated).

Do you have different retention buckets for different groups or one bucket for all?
. As above retention is based on content. For example, emails like minor comments to an Annual Financial Report may have a shorter retention compared with the Final Report. Let me know if you need more examples on this.

What is your retention on archived emails?
. Retention is based on content.
In a previous job, I was able to get sign-off for a blanket retention of 5 years foremail accounts, trigger event was from the staff’s last working day. The policy was role based e.g. destruction of administrative clerk’s email account has to be signed off by the Staff’s Manager + RM Manager, Manager’s email account has to be signed off by the Manager + CEO + RM Manager and so on.

. How did you determine the length of time for your email retention schedule?
. Retention schedule is based on the content and determines length of time each record (e.g. email) will be retained and the reason for its retention and disposition. Retention schedule includes periods od time for records to be retained, method for disposition, measures to be taken when a record disposition must be suspended due to litigation or audit

Do you have a document management solution that includes emails?
. We are using SharePoint is document management system and RecordPoint for records management but we are not ready to automate our retention rules as of yet.
. While we are discussing about emails, is there any email policy anyone is willing to share? I absolutely agree that saving emails as a record is such a huge issue for RM Managers as we rely entirely on staff to save them to a record keeping system.

Either six months, three years or indefinitely, depending upon the nature of the email. We don’t archive emails. To arrive at our approach, we considered the types of information that might come through email and require protection and preservation. We considered how long many projects might last and how long non-record information might be useful for reference. Regarding your last question, yes, that’s possible within our environment.

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Texas: Southwest Chapter
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