I wanted to talk about everyone’s favorite subject, email management. Yes, I know your eyes just rolled to the back and you’re thinking of the tech guys that have lectured you in the past about cleaning up your inbox and that you have storage limits and the like. But I want to get away from the tech side and talk very briefly about the policy side.
I would like to touch on the importance of an email policy. An email policy is pretty clear-cut and simple right? Well, if it so simple why do so few organization have a formal email policy or, for that matter, any email policy oversight. Yes email is, or should be, addressed in the employee handbook and if you have an IT person they will most likely come by from time to time and lecture you about having too much email in your inbox. However, it seems that much of the time, management has not fully bought in to the whole idea of an email policy or enforcement of the policy. Many times management just lets IT be responsible for email policy enforcement. Of course, IT should play a role in development and enforcement but there really should be an oversight team that includes IT, legal and records management, and they should have the backing of the C-Level guys. Every organization’s email policy will be different and oversight will vary, and therefore the makeup of the over sight team will differ from situation to situation. However, most policies should address a few basic concepts:
- Acceptable usage
- Signature blocks
- Effective usage
- Personal usage
- Retention and disposition
What should not differ from situation to situation is that top-level management support of the written email policy. This will help ensure that the policy will be enforced throughout the organization, including management. (If management is not going to adhere to the email policy how can they expect anyone else to?)
By having a clear email policy, organizations reduce legal liabilities, manage content and records for optimal retrieval and reduce the cost of storing outdated or useless information. The key to the success for any email content management policy relies on management buy-in.
Miller Montague 7/12/2010