Once again this week we are hearing about email as a source of reference in a hearing and the problematic issue for organizations. I am of course referring to the current inquest into Goldman Sachs and the references made to internal emails between Goldman Sachs employees about how bad the products they were selling were for prospective buyers. (I left out the expletive used but suffice to say there was one in place of the word bad.) When asked by the Congressional inquisitor about the email in question, the response - I am paraphrasing here - was that it was unfortunate that it was written.
It is no secret that email is the major pain point in most organizations these days, not only that it exists but how it is used and what to actually keep. Controlling email use should be one of the prime focal points of any organizational policy and that policy should address appropriate use, retention, and disposition. There should be definition as to what constitutes an official record of business and how to declare it for management by the records management department. There should be similar guidelines on content and information not deemed a record but considered having enough value to maintain for a set length of time. Just as important, there needs to be extensive training so the employees are aware of these policies and monitoring of the information environment to ensure these policies are adhered to.
It is not my position to judge whether what they did was right or wrong, that is up to the Justice Department and other government officials. I do feel however that there are lessoned to be learned that are missed for whatever reason. You would think that after what happened to Morgan Stanley with regard to email, others would stand up and take notice, yet here we are once again with a financial institution being investigated and email becomes the focal point of interest in moving the case forward.
In my view, the tools are there to help manage email, and the policies in place should address email as part of the overall governance of information within the enterprise. I find it difficult to understand how and why so many companies find themselves in precarious positions due to email when it is possible to get it all under control. Maybe this time, the lesson will be learned and others will now stand up and take notice that they too could be at risk in how email is used and how it is managed.
What say you? What are your thoughts on this topic and how are you managing your emails?
Bob Larrivee – firstname.lastname@example.org On twitter – BobLarrivee
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