Confidentiality of email

Sharing email will increase productivity.

However, there are some thorny issues we need to consider when implementing a MessageStore for your team to reference. They mostly revolve around the balance between the efficiency of the team when they have the information at their fingertips and the need for some email content to remain private.

Here are some examples.

ScenarioBenefitsVerdict
A new person becomes involved in a case. They can see all the previous correspondence.Benefits to client service and business resilience, productivity, image and so much more.Advantages increase with time, number of team members and the complexity of cases dealt with.
Commercial dispute where the correspondence is forgotten by all and new managers on one or both sides must resolve the matter at hand.Easy access to the correspondence clarifies and, as the dispute could turn toxic, can provide calm objectivity.From personal experience, I can tell you a couple of incidents have paid for our MessagesStore over the last decade and the clients are still with us.
Auditor arrives following a Rights to Work breach of an employee with an expired visa.You can immediately show all correspondence to back up your initial vetting for that employee and all the others. When this happens to AXLR8 clients, they are normally able to demonstrate that the visa and passport reminders were automated through Trigaware and the AXLR8 BS7858 vetting module was used during the recruitment process to collect and verify PoA, PoID and all the essential paperwork was performed and stored.Home Office and internal and external inspections are a fraction of the cost and risk they might have been.
A sensitive email from a co-director to HR about an individual is seen by their colleagues.Important to prevent at the outset. AXLR8 can help your organisation apply the right security rules to certain email addresses, email sources and functionsAllows you to share emails within departmental and functional compartments.
You use your work mail for personal correspondence and have sent an email to you mum about an embarrassing medical condition. The whole office is giggling.Don’t use the work email for that kind of stuff. It will end in tears.Please inform us if this happens. We cannot help but it will brighten our day.

Linking to your operational email system

The way MessageStore works is by “journalling” mail from your operational email to your ExchangeVault on MessageStore. This would normally be for all your emails. Once the email arrives it is stored by rules that are optimised for performance, security and accessibility. For example all the mails for Billy@yourco.com will be accessible under that person’s record.

However, there will also be email specifically about the subject for which that correspondent has asked your company for technical assistance. All correspondence on that job will be kept apart from all the other emails and put into that “job bag”. The way this works is that the subject line has a code for that job. You will certainly have seen this method used when you ask a helpdesk using an AXLR8 Job Tracking system for assistance. You will be allocated a ticket number and the company will request that you keep that ticket reference in the subject line.

The benefits of this method increase with the number of requests put in by a person (frequent fliers) and the complexity and hence number of emails stored on a case. Technical helpdesks find it particularly useful. The reason for this is that email archives reduce the amount of time spent on second and subsequent resolutions to the same problem because they reduce repeated time consuming research. Such correspondence is also of general use in understanding the complex influencing and dependent factors before applying a fix.

The general rule is that this kind of automation assists in recalling correspondence where there is an extended period of time between order and delivery and the matter is complex with lots of options.

Implementation factors to consider

This is an area where a system can bring your organisation great efficiency and productivity but the legal and political framework may be catching up. AXLR8 have been providing the service since 2004. We are both confident that it will bring clients advantages and also, there will be responsibilities that come with the advantages it brings.

  1. Confidentiality: our consultants will help you through working out the rules that will improve productivity whilst reducing or eliminating the potential embarrassing “leakage”. There are options in place that should cover most requirements you have and few you may not have thought of. To illustrate this, here are some examples:
    • I do not want any of my mails being seen. No HR mails should be seen by anyone except the sender and recipient.
    • The branch sales manager can see all sales people’s emails. Other department managers may only see their own staff’s emails.
    • Technical people may only see emails attached to technical cases they are working on.
    • Do not archive or share any emails if I put “banana” (or some agreed keyword) in the subject line.
  2. ICT capability. If you manage your own email systems you may involve the person responsible for email and we will work with them to set it up. If you outsource email or if it is a division of a large company of which your department is a small subsidiary, then the competence and authority of that department needs to be assessed at the planning stage. Occasionally, there will be concerns on their part about either technical or political issues of implementing such a powerful system
  3. GDPR. Anyone involved will be concerned about retention of this data and the privacy issues. It may need changes to your employment terms and conditions. We have a variety of approaches to removing a person’s personally identifiable data but keeping the information required longer term, for example:
    • removal of a person’s details BUT retaining an important email with attachments because it is a contract between your company and theirs that runs for many years after they have left.
    • retention of important information for HMRC statutory reasons whilst removing personally identifiable information from their records and emails.

Feel free to contact us at +44 1344 776500 to discuss any of these matters.

Transparency

In some organisations, emails are a weapon and may be held tightly like poker cards.  Any boss appreciates the confidentiality of their email to HR or within the management team. However, most of the time, the lost email is a drain on productivity.  To use a team sport metaphore: passing a ball that only some of your team can see, some of the time, is going to lead to a very frustrating game.

Benefits?

Exchange Vault means that you can share emails with the right people. Here are some examples:

  • Team work: if not every day, then certainly every week, our helpdesk benefits because we can all see the email trail with each customer support case. This email linked to the support ticket is invaluable if you take a call from a client and the person who was dealing with the matter is away for a few days. Imagine the customer service gain as well.
  • Audit trail: an auditor may quickly see what happened from the email history. Who reported the incident, what was done and when. We have many commercial clients who have used this facility for internal and external audit. In the public sector, the system has been invaluable for Reviews and Appeals during and after information governance cases for which the AXLR8 IRM is commonly used.
  • Dropped balls: If you have had enough of ball game metaphores, this is the old problem of things dropping between the cracks. An action is required and there would normally be some evidence in the correspondence but there is none and the matter is not yet resolved. The benefit of being able to pick up the trail of some case or project that has been forgotten is so important as your organisation becomes leaner.
  • Deletion of important mail: whether by accident or for deceit, a missing email within your team will put you at a disadvantage with a client or supplier.
  • Reference: This is so important. Here are two examples:
    • We have had an incident where the ExchangeVault was able to retrieve a contract from 7 years previously. The internal mail system had been changed twice since then and copied out to archives. There never was a paper copy. Not only did the document save us money but the client, upon reading it, recalled the deal and the details and was happy with the result. It might have otherwise destroyed the trust between the parties.
    • One of our clients is a property company who had a multi-million pound contractual dispute. We were able to apply some third-party search tools to their MessageStore during the discovery process. Presentation of the emails showed complete transparency and put them at a huge advantage in court.

Confidentiality

Later, we will have some examples of case studies where we consider the privacy and confidentiality impact of multiple viewers of another colleague’s emails. In the meantime, consider NOT emailing your mum about that embarrassing condition on your work email!