Here is a summary of the IRMS London Email Preservation event that took place in March this year, written by attendee Vanessa Platt.
David Bowen from Audata Ltd. presented an informative talk interspersed with a healthy degree of organised discussion and debate. In summary, there were three key takeaway points for me.
When considering which emails your organisation needs to keep, analyse your current practices and the organisational appetite for risk in your particular environment, and use this knowledge for communicating effectively with senior stakeholders and staff about email preservation.
Take the time to get the method of capturing emails for preservation right for your organisation: explore user approaches and behaviours towards managing email, and to records management more generally, and don’t rush to purchase new software or reinvent the wheel. Tools can help address legacy email in particular, but managing current and future email inevitably involves people, who will always be able to beat the system - so focus on the benefits, provide training, be realistic, and limit opportunities for circumventing a new system or process. Remember no system is perfect!
Give thought to the longer term accessibility needs of your captured email records from the start. Consider format and the significance of maintaining specific elements of the email content and context, like links, attachments and email addresses and other metadata. After all, the emails that are really lost are those that have become unreadable – not the ones hidden in personal mailboxes.
This was an excellent event which covered all of the essential requirements for tackling this challenging area. Thanks to David, Lara and Ofwat for hosting, and to former IRMS Chair Meic Pierce-Owen for vicariously providing some light relief from all the seriousness in the form of some quaiche-based antics from last year’s Conference (photos courtesy of RM Girl).