While the return on investment (ROI) can be quite clear cut in certain cases, such as in business sales where statistics can demonstrate whether there was an increase or not, there can be cases where a system is helping increase the ROI indirectly. This is the case with email archiving software. In this short post I shall explain how email archiving can not only ensure an organization avoids costly fines, but also offers substantial cost savings and help increase the business ROI.
How does email archiving work? Email archiving is a central repository, usually a database, in which message contents and attachments, which would have been automatically extracted from incoming/outgoing emails on the email server, are preserved so that the company maintains a secure record of all its email communication for legal or compliance purposes, or operational reasons. By offloading emails from the email server, expensive storage requirements on the server are reduced, thereby also improving performance. Email archiving also ensures that important and business critical emails are retained for as long as legally necessary even in the event that these emails would have been deleted by employees.
Understanding the value of email archiving
Before discussing how email archiving does this, we shall first evaluate what it involves. Email archiving is a repository in which message contents and attachments, which would have been automatically extracted from incoming/outgoing emails, are securely preserved so that the company would have its records in case of compliance or simply for operational purposes. In this way, the demand for storage space is moderated as the amount of online emails on the mail server would be reduced. Also, email archiving software would ensure that the business has a centralized and accessible copy of all emails – protecting the organization from accidental/intentional deletion of emails by end users, as well as eliminating the need to search for emails manually when requested for litigation support.
The first direct advantage with email archiving is that it will help your organization meet compliance. The regulations your organization needs to abide with differ depending on your geographical position and with your clients’ location.
In the United States for example, the following regulations require email archiving as part of their compliance process:
- FDA Title 21 CFR Part 11
- Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP)
- Freedom of Information Act
- Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act
- HFTA (Hedge Fund Transparency Act)
- Investment Advisors Act
- NASD Rule 3110 and NYSE Rule 440
- SB 1386
- Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 17a-4 and SEC Rule 17a-3
- The USA Patriot Act
In Germany one can find the GDPDU; while in the United Kingdom email archiving is required for a number of British Standards Institution regulations, for the Data Protection Act of 1998, as well as for the Freedom of Information Act of 2000.
The next logical question is what might be the consequence of non-compliance. To help us understand better, let’s take an actual case such as the Adecco incident. Because its audit trail was not strong enough, massive costs to get its financials approved were incurred and the company got hit badly in the stock market when it was not able to meet its financial filing date.
Fines can be pretty hefty as can be seen in another two cases, the MetLife incident, where the organization was fined $1.2 million by FINRA (Financial industry Regulatory Authority), and the Piper Jaffray case, who was fined $700,000. In both cases, these companies were fined for not meeting their email archiving obligations.
The savings in fines alone, make the deployment of email archiving software an indispensible investment for any organization. Yet this is not the only advantage an organization stands to gain from such a great tool.
Other benefits that come with email archiving
Consider disaster recovery; at the end of the day, email is an integral part of any business – the loss of which can end up costing any organization a lot of money. The email archiving system in itself can be used as an effective backup of the companywide email system, allowing easy recovery should the normal email store suffer data loss. This also applies to cases where, for example, an employee might have deleted important emails accidentally while cleaning their mailbox. Such a system will save the administrator a lot of time when compared to traditional data recoveries which, in case of hardware failures, might end up with substantial costs if data recovery companies are employed – provided that such recovery is even possible as this would depend on the nature and extent of the physical damage.
Another important benefit offered by email archiving is forensics. Email is an important commodity even in a legal context. Email exchanges between parties have been considered by courts as binding contracts, so an organization would want to keep such emails in a secure environment which can provide proof of zero tampering in order to safeguard that proof’s integrity. Email can also contain episodes of an employee’s wrong doings as well as contain proof that exonerates the company of wrong doing that a disgruntled employee might accuse it of. In such cases, a good email archiving solution can provide an effective chain of custody, ensuring such evidence will be admissible in court.
Clearly, email archiving helps organizations comply with regulations, but the deployment of such software also safeguards the business’s interest and helps it be more efficient. While email archiving might not generate a direct return, it will ensure you avoid costly fines as well as make substantial savings that will more than pay for the cost of implementing email archiving in the first place.