December 02, 2008, 1:19 PM — I live in the Dallas area, but not in the city of Dallas. That means my children were outside the horribly mis-managed Dallas schools, but we're still under the thumbs of idiotic Dallas County officials. How idiotic? How about this recent story, â€œE-mail Deletion Plan Criticized,â€ about officials wanting to delete e-mail after 90 days. Have none of them heard of all the new regulations about e-mail archiving?
Of course, the current Republican governor of Texas convinced the Texas Attorney General to rule that he could delete e-mails after a week (hiding anything, gov?). By this measurement, it appears that the bozos in Dallas County are 12 times smarter than those in the Governor's office. That's a hard contest to judge. And as comedian Ron White says, â€œyou can't fix stupid.â€
Let me make this as clear as possible: keep your e-mails for years. Keep them forever if you can. This will only help, unless you and your coworkers are actively planning criminal acts via e-mail. If so, start meeting in the halls to plan criminal acts, and don't write down anything in e-mail. Then keep those newly-clean e-mails forever.
When some unhappy customer or former business partner sues you, the more evidence you have of your innocence the better. Hence the need for an e-mail archive. Before a lawsuit happens, reasonable offers are made by both sides which the other side rejects for some reason, usually a stupid reason driven by hurt feelings. When you bring those â€œlet's make peaceâ€ e-mails to court, you win your case almost every time.
Besides the other smart reasons to keep e-mail, such as all the information about your business processes, customers, and solved problems therein, the laws demanding e-mail archiving are expanding to cover more industries each month. If you plan your e-mail archive solution at your pace, you'll get a better and cheaper system than if you panic and rush to throw a system together once your business becomes regulated.
E-mail archiving is now relatively cheap and remains a good idea. Mining the business value of e-mails is an even better idea.