Female checking email inbox on laptop. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.
Emails are some of the most prevalent and relevant records within an organization. As the most common form of professional communication, properly managing and reviewing email documents is necessary for records managers in any industry.
It’s best to use methods and tools to make email records management as streamlined as possible. So what particular feature were we hinting at in our title to do this? Email conversations.
Let’s get right into..
- what the email conversations feature is,
- the benefits of email conversations
- and how to use email conversations, with advanced permissions and additional capabilities discussed.
What is the email conversations feature?
The email conversations feature allows users to quickly access all instances of an email conversation that they were a part of when viewing a single email in that chain of correspondences.
Look at the email in the example below. Reviewing this document is simple enough in this format; however, if sent to ten people in the same organization, eleven copies of this same email require review, plus more for anyone CC'd or BCC'd.
Rather than performing eleven different reviews for the same content, the email conversations feature will condense the review to have a single copy of the email sent, and a single copy of each reply easily accessible.
The benefits of email conversations
The SEC rule 17a-4 dictates that all financial institutions must retain and provide access to emails for three to six years from their send date. With email conversation capabilities, records managers can locate and deliver a single correspondence to the interested party rather than sifting through potentially hundreds of copies of unorganized emails that contain duplicate information.
This feature will save an organization valuable time and money in the document review process performed either by a records manager or an attorney (for example, during a legal hold).
Email conversations limit duplicate emails by only displaying a single copy when performing reviews or viewing the email conversation. Whenever possible, the sender's version of the email is shown as it contains the most relevant metadata.
By displaying the entire email chain in a review, each item gets more context to make a quicker and more knowledgeable decision about the optimal review outcome. This context helps ensure that organizations follow the correct compliance procedures and avoid the fines and regulatory consequences that would occur if they did not.
How to use email conversations in a cloud-based solution
Email conversations are offered in the cloud-based information management platform, Collabspace. The email layout can be seen in the screenshot below, with email conversation threads included below the document preview.
These conversation items are sorted in date-descending order, with the email in preview highlighted in blue. It is important to note that selecting a different email in the conversation will not update the metadata displayed on the right, which is only associated with the initially selected email. Unselected emails in the conversation contain the email address of the sender and the sent data and time.
In the screenshot above, the email in the preview is from Quinn, who is forwarding an upcoming Collabware release to another user called Demo. Along with the forwarded release, Quinn says, "Did you see this update? I'm putting in another 5k. This one will go to the moon!" This email strongly suggests that Quinn is doing insider trading and is letting Demo know about it.
Note that the user viewing these emails only has access to Quinn's mailbox. Unless in Discovery Admin mode, users can only see items from email conversations in which they are either the sender or the recipient.
In the screenshot below, we have selected the most recent email in the conversation, in which Demo lets Quinn know that they will "empty their account for this release." This email implies that Demo is also involved with insider trading.
Enhanced permissions: the power of Discovery Admin mode
A powerful tool that accompanies the email conversation feature is the Discovery Admin mode. This mode gives a Collabspace organization's Discovery Administrators the option to have an elevated view of an email conversation that is not limited to what they send and receive. With this mode enabled, they can see anything that was sent or received by any user within the Collabspace organization, including content deleted at the source.
In the screenshot above, Discovery Admin Mode is enabled (toggle outlined in yellow), showing one additional item: the original email forwarded to User 1 by Demo that forwards the Collabware update and includes the text "Let's buy some more!". This email was deleted at source, yet Collabspace only deletes content via the delete action at the end of its lifecycle. The elevated view of Discovery Admin mode shows that User 1 is also involved with insider trading.
Additional capabilities: acting on email conversations
While viewing all the email items in some correspondence helps to contextualize and simplify email reviews, sometimes users want to do more than just view. For this reason, Collabspace email conversations have the option to click "View in Search," as seen outlined in yellow in the screenshot below.
This option brings users to search results that include every email in that conversation, allowing users to export all items. In the insider trading scenario described earlier, the email conversation contained evidence of employees conspiring to purchase company shares based on private information. Since insider trading is illegal, a case against these employees may need to be created, in which case exporting the email conversation as evidence is an important step.
In addition to exporting, these emails should not get deleted from Collabspace because they may be required to take legal action against an employee. To ensure they are not deleted, Discovery Administrators can place all emails in the conversation on Hold, which will pause those items' retention and disposition schedules.
Email conversations in Collabspace simplify navigating emails because the feature provides immediate access between an email and its replies. This can be used to contextualize email correspondence when performing eDiscovery or reviews, saving time and money for both processes. Discovery Admin mode is beneficial for getting more information out of email correspondence, as it can expose email leaks like in the example walked through earlier. These correspondences can then be actioned upon, such as placing the emails on hold.
Want to learn more about how to improve your email management? We’ve got an article on email management best practices, and how to keep an inbox so organized that it sparks joy. To learn more about using Collabspace for your email and information management needs, contact us or download the brochure below to learn about additional capabilities: