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  • Carefull when renaming email subjects

    I'm a newbie to GTD and I am still learning the different tools and tips of the system. However, one suggestion regarding renaming email subjects to reflect the next action generated a red flag for me.

    As a records manager, I know it is not a good idea to change email messages if they are considered a record by your company. You could be altering the official record of the company and could be putting your company at legal risk.

    --Llan

  • #2
    Interesting Llan

    What I do is take the email and if I'm going to change the subject (for my own sake) I'll reply to myself and change the subject, or when I reply to everyone I change the subject

    My most common use is I make a task out of the email, and then name the task

    I didn't even know you could change email subjects on the server.

    Comment


    • #3
      I appreciate the concern, but the server should be recording the emails as they were originally sent. If the individual recipients change their copies, that should be okay, as the server still records the original version.

      If there's ever a legal question, investigators should go back to the original, sent version of each email. Heck, the email may have been corrupted in transmission, so it's unwise to rely on the received version.

      Comment


      • #4
        Agreed with Brent.

        Telling users they can't change an email subject because it is a company record is tantamount to telling them they can't delete anything either.

        All of this history is on the server and/or in backups (if your IT department has even the smallest clue of what they're doing). Investigators will (most likely) not be asking the individual users for their email anyway.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Brent View Post
          I appreciate the concern, but the server should be recording the emails as they were originally sent.
          Depends on your system. Some do not keep copies at the server level for legal records, some do. The point is valid if you are in a work environment that demands legal accountability for all actions.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by jknecht View Post
            Telling users they can't change an email subject because it is a company record is tantamount to telling them they can't delete anything either.
            Actually I've worked in places where that is exactly the policy. No e-mail or memo's sent or received may ever be deleted or destroyed.

            And yes, each individual was responsible for keeping their own archive of past messages accurate and up to date.

            It's not at all uncommon if you do any government work and so the caution is well founded for folks in that situation.

            Comment


            • #7
              Obviously, one should check and see which policy applies to one's workplace.

              I would say, though, that organizations who *don't* maintain such records at the server/IT department level are asking for trouble. Individual PCs are vulnerable to everything from hard drive failures and virii to user incompetence or malice. If it's important to the company for an accurate record to exist, only the company has the resources to make it happen.

              Katherine

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              • #8
                In many companies a copy of all email correspondence is stored elsewhere. We have had it where a user's email program froze due to its size, which we could only solve with tech help. Then again, that may have resolved itself with stronger pcs, since that hasn't happened in a while.

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                • #9
                  Carefull when renaming email subjects

                  Originally posted by jknecht View Post
                  Agreed with Brent.

                  Telling users they can't change an email subject because it is a company record is tantamount to telling them they can't delete anything either.

                  All of this history is on the server and/or in backups (if your IT department has even the smallest clue of what they're doing). Investigators will (most likely) not be asking the individual users for their email anyway.
                  Quite the contrary. In this age of digitization, workers now must share in the reponsibility of records management. If one's company is on the ball, they have an email policy that states what can be deleted (transitory emails such as "let's meet for lunch") and which are to be retained (emails that document decisions or other company official business). Those that are retained are to be saved in the company's electronic records repository so that they remain unchanged.

                  An email server and/or backups do not necessarily serve the same purpose as saving company records for compliance purposes. Backup tapes are for disaster recovery and sometimes are periodically recycled. If a company relies on those methods during litigation, they will be at a great disadvantage because it costs lots of money to sort and retrieve the necessary information for discovery. Judges are not as lenient as before on poor electronic records management (and yes that means email).

                  I guess the best thing for people to do is to ask their company's records manager in addition to IT if renaming email subject lines is a good idea. It does not hurt to find out your company's circumstances.

                  Llan

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The last company I worked for--a large multinational--explicitly and permanently deleted all emails over 90 days old, on advice of legal counsel.

                    But, this is getting pretty far off-topic for a personal productivity forum.

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