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You can archive email, but email is not an archive

At Every Turn TakeTurns Blog
|  by
Fabien Bontemps
Fabien Bontemps
Senior Software Architect
You can archive email, but email is not an archive

As a provider of external collaboration software, we’ve spoken to numerous people who use email to collaborate with clients, partners, customers, suppliers, etc.--what we call external parties. While we’ve written at length about the challenges of using email for external collaborations and why some are quitting email,  what’s been a surprise for us is the number of teams that continue to use their email as their archive (we wrote about this in a recent post on wrapping up collaborations). 

While it’s appropriate to archive your email, there are many reasons why email itself should not be used as an archive. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Lack of “findability” (retrieval) - Email systems are for communications. They’re “message” centric, i.e., you operate on individual emails as opposed to groups of messages tied to a project or collaboration. While email is great for communications, it’s not optimized for archiving and retrieval. This makes it challenging to locate specific emails and attachments, especially as the volume of emails grows over time. 
  • Lack of organization - Take a look at your last email-centric collaboration. There are probably dozens of emails spread across multiple threads with many versions of attachments.  Unless you’re manually collating, it’s nearly impossible to reconstitute the history of a collaboration and see the big picture. While an archiving solution would provide more options on retrieval (would be better than email’s built-in “search”) it’s not perfect.  As a side point, this lack of automatic collation drove the design of how TakeTurns addresses collaborations. 
  • Security and privacy risks - Email is not a secure or private method of storage. That makes it vulnerable to hacking, data breaches, and unauthorized access, all of which can lead to sensitive information being compromised.  Using email as your archive further concentrates these security risks since more data is being retained in the communication system.  It’s worth noting that TakeTurns’s ephemeral storage approach was designed specifically to avoid misuse. We remove the contents after you wrap up your collaboration to limit security, privacy, and confidentiality issues.
  • Compliance issues - Depending on the industry and jurisdiction, there are legal requirements for how long certain types of information must be kept and how it must be stored. Meeting these requirements usually results in retention for both the documents and email. Avoiding these mandates can lead to compliance problems and potential legal liability. Our TakeTurns archiving approach was designed to help teams maintain compliance with retention policies. 
  • Data loss - Email systems can experience technical issues, such as server crashes or data corruption, which can result in the loss of important emails and attachments. Such a loss would already have an impact on operations, so why compound the pain by losing your archive as well? 

In France we have an idiom that sums it all up: “Chacun son métier et les vaches seront bien gardées.” Cows notwithstanding (in France we love our cows) the phrase is similar to something I’ve heard in the USA “Using the right tools to do the right job.” Or, it’s important to choose suitable software for particular activities because each software package has different capabilities. 

This is certainly true when it comes to archiving.  And as we’ve observed in previous posts, it’s definitely true when it comes to external collaboration. In fact, many of the challenges that make email a poor choice for archiving also make email a poor choice for external collaboration, specifically the lack of organization, security and privacy risks, and compliance issues. 

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TakeTurns is your one place to share, collect, and collaborate on business-critical documents and files with your clients, vendors, partners—or any external organization. It turns that clutter of emails, attachments, shared folders, and messages into a structured, secure, and transparent TakeTurns Flow.  Ready to improve how you collaborate externally? Try TakeTurns for free.

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