AIIM Study: E-mail Poses Major Legal Discovery Risk

One-third of firms say they have no policy to deal with legal discovery

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ECM industry researcher AIIM has found that a third of organizations have no policy to deal with legal discovery and 40 percent might need to search back-up tapes to find e-mails that could be relevant to litigation. This new 2009 AIIM survey found that 84 percent of respondents would have no way to justify why e-mail messages of a certain age or type had been deleted. In AIIM’s view, most organizations are only just waking up to the fact that among the deluge of day-to-day e-mails, are some that constitute important business records. These e-mails need to be recorded and retained as such.

Over half of respondents lack confidence that e-mails related to documenting commitments and obligations made by staff are recorded, complete, and recoverable. This number has not improved over the last three AIIM surveys. Perhaps this finding is not surprising given that 45 percent of respondents are still filing important e-mails in personal Outlook folders. A resolute 18 percent print important e-mails and file them as paper. Only 19 percent can move important e-mails into a document or records management system, or a dedicated e-mail management system.

As Doug Miles, director of market intelligence at AIIM, notes, “This is not just a legal discovery issue. Finding and recovering past e-mails is cited as the number two problem with e-mail as a business tool -- after ‘sheer overload’ at number one. Given that most people spend more than 1.5 hours per day processing e-mails, this is a major efficiency issue. The good news is that a third of organizations plan fresh investment in e-mail management initiatives over the next two years.”

The new AIIM research also found that two-thirds of respondents access e-mails on the move, and a startling 28 percent normally process work-related e-mails on weekends and while on vacation.

The full report in the AIIM Industry Watch series, E-mail Management, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, can be downloaded for free at http://www.aiim.org/Research/Email-Management.aspx (short registration required).