Email Management FAQs
Why do I need to save email records on a shared drive?
Have you ever found yourself trawling through your email looking for information or having to ask a colleague for something which is in their email?
Saving all the records (or as many as possible) in one place where (a) the appropriate colleagues have access, and (b) the emails are saved with other records relating to the same business, makes them easier to find and available to those who need to refer to them. The filing structure for the department in the shared network area should be logically set up to reflect the functions and activities of the department, and to take into account the retention periods for the records (and any other information). Keeping records in your email account makes them available ONLY TO YOU, and although they may be easy for you to find using the various sort and search facilities, this is reliant on your individual knowledge of who sent the email and when it was sent, etc. Email (and any other records) received or created by you in the course of your employment with the University belong to the institution and it is your responsibility to ensure that they are managed appropriately.
How long do I keep emails?
There is no specific retention period relating to emails, per se, as it is the content of the email not the format which is important. You shouldn’t have many emails older than 6 months in your email account and certainly none older than 12 months – they should be saved on a shared network drive or have been deleted once there was no longer a business requirement to keep them.
1) Records – if the email is evidence of University business then it should be stored in SharePoint or the S: Drive along with other records related to the same business (and will therefore be destroyed/deleted along with those records in due course according to the corresponding Records Retention Schedule).
2) Copies of emails sent to others/attachments – it is the responsibility of the originator to ensure that these are stored appropriately if they are University records, therefore you can delete them once they have served their purpose. If you are still using them as reference material please see the guidance referring to reference material below.
Attachments - ideally, the originator should supply you with a link to the file rather than sending the file as an attachment as this means that there will be a proliferation of copies of the same file saved in various locations on the University network and version control becomes difficult. SharePoint is ideal for storing files which need to be accessed by numerous people and has built in version control and excellent collaboration capability.
3) Reference material – generally try to delete reference material as soon as you have read it. If the email/s are reference material with ongoing value save them in SharePoint or the S: Drive along with other records related to the same business. Putting them in a folder entitled ‘reference material’ will make it easier to find them for use while they are required and categorises them for easy deletion once they are no longer required.
4) Ephemeral/Transitory Records –are those which are only of value short-term. If there is provision for these within your departmental retention schedule then refer to that, however it may be necessary to use your own judgement e.g. meeting invitations and other information pertaining to the meeting are unlikely to be of any use once the meeting has concluded and the minutes circulated. Reference material is unlikely to be needed once the purpose for which it was retained has been finalised (it may be referenced in the final document/s).
5) Emails retained for your personal evidence that you requested something or something was requested of you must be stored in such a way that you can routinely reassess them and decide whether or not to continue storing them. Best practice is to store all University records in a shared area on the network drive, for instance, if you deal with procurement for your department and are keeping email requesting purchases as ‘evidence’ these could be stored with related information for that year in a shared network area. The value of the request may have a bearing on its retention as may the reason for the purchase (e.g. project) – please contact the Governance Adviser (Records Management) ext.6359 if you have any specific retention period queries.
Can emails form a contractual undertaking?
Yes, they can, so ensure that you are authorised to enter into the agreement or contract prior to doing so – particularly where an external party is involved.
Is any email/Outlook training available?
Yes, guidance and information about training is available on the IS intranet pages: http://staff.napier.ac.uk/services/cit/StaffEmail/Pages/StaffEmail.aspx