We are using a popular 3rd party email management software. I’m trying to convince our implementation team that we need to separate the attachments from the Outlook email to file separately in SharePoint. The program can do that, enabling us to easily assign individual Content Types & metadata, yet keep those documents linked to the message. There is staunch opposition against this. What are your best arguments and tactics for this kind of change management?
Golden Valley Electric Association
Hi, It would help to first know what arguments are being put up against doing it?
I am not sure what you meant by separating attachments from email. Email should be treated as document itself so do you mean you save email in a library and the attachments in a different one?
I am not sure if I am allowed to mention the 3rd party that we use here but I have this tool which exposes the entire SharePoint environment and OneDrive for business to my outlook. This ensures that my users don’t have to leave their outlook either to drop a document received via email to SharePoint or composing an email to someone and attaching a document on SharePoint.
This encouraged me to create document sets contents types which allows emails to be easily categorized as you drop them in the folder via this tool. Looking forward to hear more from you.
INVESTEC ASSET MANAGEMENT
Far too often in the SharePoint world we see a technical answer to a business question. Is that the issue here? You say you have a 3rd party email management tool in place; why? To manage storage in your exchange server? To reduce operational costs? To apply retention rules for corporate records?
These are fundamental questions in these types of discussions. From your question it sounds like there are multiple agenda’s here. Perhaps that is a good place to start the conversation.
Thanks for the comments/questions. We are developing our ECM strategy and selecting applications to meet our compliance and governance goals. We’ll be introducing SharePoint 2013 as well as selected third-party solutions for our project. We will be training employees to move business email and Attachments to SP libraries and team sites. This requires the filing and classification of email messages and attachments. Some users will, of course, want to keep their email and embedded attachments as one item and classify “it” under one Content Type, rather than removing (extracting) those attachments which should be classified differently. We need to offer a simple yet compliant process. I believe that would be to extract the attachments automatically as explained in my first post. Any opinions and/or experiences with this?
Golden Valley Electric Association
We didn’t go that far into implementation, but I wouldn’t separate the attachments from the email. The email gives context to the attachment and contains valuable metadata. Keeping the entire email ensures integrity of the record. There are odd cases when the body of the email doesn’t contain any valuable information, but think about fax transmittals. You wouldn’t delete the date, time and the fax number printed at the top of a fax. So why would you destroy the email that contains that information?
Plus, when do you keep the email and when do you keep just the attachment? Doesn’t that make the decision much harder on your users? You will not be able to cover all user cases and during training your users will ask a lot of questions.
Records management is something users need to do and not particularly doing it joyfully. If you can reduce the amount of decisions they need to make, change management will be easier too.
Thanks Monica! I appreciate hearing what other organizations find easiest for email management. I agree the email message and attachment(s) should stay together. In our case, when an email w/attachment(s) is moved from Outlook to SharePoint, email and attachments are split apart and all pieces are automatically assigned the same unique ID number. Users can sort or search by that ID column and keep the email and attachments together. In the pop-up properties box, Users can assign same metadata to the entire group, individually, or any combination thereof. Now, any/all of these items are ready to be sent as email Links from SharePoint to coworkers. Sending SP Links instead of Attachments is our No. 1 compliance mission, so I’m interested in how others are accomplishing this, or what the plan of action is. —————————— Golden Valley Electric Association