A survey conducted by AIIM, an enterprise content management industry association, found nearly half of US companies have not adopted a comprehensive record retention policy, despite growing pressure from courts and regulators to store and maintain all documents, including electronic documents and e-mail messages. In AIIM’s survey of 2,100 records and information managers, 68% responded that they do not have a set plan to preserve electronic records that need to be migrated off of current production systems and onto an archiving system to ensure their accessibility over time. What’s even worse is that only about 12% have implemented an automated solution to ensure requirements are met. Failure to comply with privacy regulations, record retention requirements and e-discovery requests for e-mail as part of the litigation process can have a negative impact on businesses.
E-mail retention is a troubling issue for many businesses, since they conduct a majority of their communications with customers, business partners, and insurance agents via e-mail. The issue can touch any number of functional units with an organization from human resources and accounts payable to legal, finance and manufacturing quality control. Even though AIIM found that 49% of organizations have not adopted a record retention policy for email, they do recognize they should not take any chances. Federal and industry regulators understand the role e-mail plays in corporate life today. Consequently, almost every new regulation mandates that e-mail messages are to be saved for a certain amount of years and they must be quickly and easily retrieved when needed or when requested by regulators.
Companies may be required to comply with myraid of state regulations, federal regulations and sector specific regulations which cover email such as;
- The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX)
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Regulations(EEOC)
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration Regulations (OSHA)
- The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Rule 17a-4,
- The PATRIOT Act
- The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
- The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH)
- The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Medicare
- 21 CFR Part 11
Retaining e-mail records and attachments is one challenge; ensuring security is another. To keep electronic records safe, organizations need to apply measures to keep data, to ensure the physical protection of data and to create an audit trail showing who has had access to the data. Enterprise content management systems can help organizations quickly and easily retain electronic records, including emails, and ensure the safety of all stored records. By implementing a enterprise content management solution along with a retention policy, businesses can retain all records, paper and electronic, for safe and easy archival.
Email Archiving Best Practices
- Your email archiving policy should be part of an overall records management policy.
- Your policy must include anyone who creates, sends or receives emails and attachments.
- Your policy must include email attachments
- Your policy should address privacy and security issues.
- Your policy should include how to handle exceptions
- Compliance should be mandatory not discretionary.
- Annual audits and reviews should be conducted to ensure compliance with new regulations
- All employees should receive training.
- Your ECM system should follow your stated policy retention policy.
- Your ECM system should have security features for data privacy.
- Your ECM system should allow you to place emails and attachments on litigation hold.
- Your ECM system should provide an audit trail of records stored in the system.
If your document management or ECM system is not helping you comply with your policy and regulations related to email retention its critical that you find one that does. ECM solutions such as docSTAR Eclipse ECM have email integration features that help you automate your policy and meet regulatory requirements. Still have questions? Our solutions consultants can help you select an ECM solutions that works for you. Contact us here for more information.