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Reality IT: Taming the Wild Inbox
Our CIO, Steve Fox, recently convinced ACME senior management of the need to restrict the size of user e-mail inboxes and regularly purge certain folders. Previously, our users had no e-mail quota nor were old messages ever purged. That's because managers and users would make such a stink at the merest hint of such a plan that Steve would back down. In fact, IT wasn't even allowed to get rid of mail in the Deleted Items folder--despite my argument that it was not called the "Retained Items" folder for a reason. But we finally found the right combination of sticks and carrots to overcome managerial resistance and bring users into line.
The Mail Plan
Under our new policy, user inboxes and subfolders wouldn't be purged, but there would be a 500-MB limit on each mailbox. And every day we would purge e-mail older than 60 days in the Deleted Items folder--we had wanted 30 days but we compromised--and older than 90 days in the Sent Items folder.
This sounded reasonable--at least to us--but managers and users still needed convincing. So how did we get them on board? There are two ways to get a donkey moving: You make a threat (the stick) or offer an incentive (the carrot).
We tried various sticks with management, but the one that really got them going was the threat of lawyers. We explained the potential legal ramifications of keeping e-mail forever. In a court case, our company might be required to hand over any e-mail on the system, including tape backups. This means it would be in our best interest to get rid of older e-mail--in accordance with regulatory guidelines, of course.
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