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Email: Top Corporate Liability

This week's article on the top mistakes users make when archiving email was incomplete, according to feedback from a couple of readers with strong opinions.

One of these, Mark Diamond, president and CEO of business and technology consulting firm Contoural Inc., believes we neglected some of the most common and serious errors users make. Here, for the record, is his list:

    Failure to perform in-house due diligence. "The single largest mistake is failure to have a policy or consensus before buying a product," Diamond says. Often, he sees IT folk purchase an email archiving product before consulting with their legal, HR, records management, or compliance departments. The result is usually a snarl at the last minute, as various in-house groups struggle to make their issues known, meantime bollixing the IT purchase.

    "You need to start engaging a committee from the beginning," Diamond maintains. The best policies for retention of email are set by IT and the legal department, jointly, in his view.

    Failure to keep it simple. Diamond thinks many organizations also make policies for email that are too long and complicated. "We see some organizations with 50- to 200-page policies," he says. "It's better to create a simpler policy that's easier to automate and execute." After all, regulators and courts are looking for evidence that a company had an automated process that was transparent and consistent. They don't expect perfection, he notes, but if you had a policy that wasn't followed because it was too intimidating or difficult to understand, that's worse than having no policy at all.

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