My colleagues in the Exchange team have introduced a wealth of new capabilities in Exchange 2010 to support email archiving, retention and discovery but I’m often asked how an organization should think about managing emails in SharePoint as part of an overall collaboration and content management strategy.  While there are no hard and fast rules, it pays to think about four distinct scenarios:

  1. Personal email management
  2. Project and case management
  3. Email archiving
  4. Records management

Each of these scenarios has a set of desired outcomes and set of capabilities that best meet those outcomes so let’s take each one in turn.

Personal email management

Personal email management is all about empowering end users to take control of their inbox, making it easier to organize, find and take action on email.  Users want a mail client that makes it easy to manage email on a day to day basis and expect their IT department to take care of backup and restore.

Project and case management

Project and case management is all about sharing information and managing a group of related artifacts in a single location with a common security model, metadata model and information management policy.  Users are looking for a solution that makes it easy to collaborate and find information while leveraging workflow to drive common business processes.

Email archiving

Email archiving is all about taking control of the proliferation of email within an organization, driving down the cost of provisioning ever increasing inbox requirements and applying broad brush time based disposition.  Email archiving is typically driven by IT who implement rules and retention policy that is typically transparent to end users.

Records management

Records management is all about identifying business critical content, driving appropriate classification and then applying relevant retention management policies.  Accurate classification of content and applying appropriate metadata ensures that information is easy to find and use throughout the enterprise.  At the same time, appropriate use of retention policies ensure that businesses can gracefully age content that is no longer of value while adhering to relevant government and industry regulations.  Email is a critical part of any modern records management strategy and so businesses need to make it easy for end users to identify and classify email that is considered to be business critical content.

 

Outlook 2010 and Exchange 2010 provide great capabilities to deal with personal email management and email archiving while SharePoint 2010 provides an ideal platform for storing email that is part of project and case management or an effective and encompassing records management strategy.

Of course there is a natural flow or continuum as email may start by being well managed in a user’s inbox, it may have an email archiving policy attached to it but a user may decide to manage it as part of a project and then finally declare the email as a record upon project completion.  As I said at the start, there are no hard and fast rules but hopefully I’ve given you a better frame of reference for working out what systems are required to support email from creation to disposition depending on the required business outcomes.

If you want to hear more about this topic, I’ll be presenting a webinar with Colligo, one of our partners who provide an add-in for Outlook that makes it easy for users to drag and drop email in to SharePoint, applying the appropriate Content Type and metadata attributes as part of the process.  The webinar is on June 17th so sign up now.

Ryan Duguid
Senior Product Manager – ECM and Compliance
Microsoft Corporation