Don’t Leave Your Client Correspondence in Your Mailbox

Email archives are too often handled separately from other client-related or project-related files.

By Mario Pavic

Here’s the scoop. Working on projects generates files. We’ve all seen it. NDAs, RFIs, RFQs, SLAs and a slew of other files that may or may not have a three-letter abbreviation. We keep the files organized as best we can, using document repositories, cloud storage services, or even a plain old shared network folder. And that all is fine.

Now there’s something else projects generate; and that’s emails. A lot of emails. And many of them just as important as the other project related files, to the point that some are even considered a binding contract (here’s an example of that: “Sender Beware: How Your Emails or Letters may be Ruled a Binding Contract“). Knowing this, we also want to organize our emails in the best way possible. And there’s the tricky part.

Oh email, where art thou?

Email archives are too often handled separately from other client-related or project-related files. Which means that when time comes to wrap a project up, you’ll more than likely be digging in the archives for relevant emails, and then compiling them together with the other project-related files in a fine and presentable package. And that’s a few hours of work right there.

Another place you will most likely also be looking at is your personal mailbox, where more important client correspondence will be found. But not just your own mailbox. Assuming you had other team members working on the project too, you will want to pull in their client correspondence too. That’s another few hours (or even days) right there.

To this brew, let’s also add the email quotas or retention policies you may have in place (90-day auto-delete, anyone?). While these policies exist for a reason, they may also cause you to find you’re missing an important email just when you need it the most. So it’s back to archives for you. And that’s a… well, you get the picture.

So is there a better way to keep track of these email records? Perhaps one that eliminates all the to and fro?

There is.

When a project is completed, or case is closed, relevant emails must always stay close at hand, easy to find and preferably easy to share with clients, or available for legal discovery purposes. Together with other related records, these emails must still be retained for years to come since you never know when you’re going to need them next.

So as opposed to just dumping all the emails in some big archive place, or having them lay about dispersed in your or your team’s mailboxes, wouldn’t it be nicer if you just saved your emails together with your project files as and when they arrive? And if everyone in your team did the same?

Such an approach would undoubtedly make things a lot easier and a lot simpler for everyone, with roughly half the effort and also half the time. And as the expression goes, that ain’t hay.

So how do we go about that?

Export your emails to PDF

PDF format is the de-facto industry standard for long-term document archiving and it’s also an open standard. Exporting your emails to PDF is a good idea for a variety of reasons. Here’s just a few:

  • Your email attachments can be saved right within the PDF file
  • Your mailbox folders can be saved in PDF binders thus creating compact closing binders
  • You can save mailbox folders in PDF packages together with your other client matter documents (e.g. MS Office files)
  • You can save your project emails to any content repository, or a cloud storage service such as Box, Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive, and have it readily available for everyone to view

So there it is. Because the PDF is the industry standard, it comes out as the best and logical choice for archiving of your emails, allowing you to unburden your mailbox and ensuring your information stays complete and exactly where you want it.

What’s next?

Check out SWING Software’s tools built specifically for exporting emails to PDF format (available both for Microsoft Outlook and IBM Notes).

Here are the key benefits SWING customers gain by converting email messages into PDF format:

  • Long-term retention — With PDF and PDF/A formats your business records can be decoupled from email servers and clients.
  • File organization and sharing — Once the emails have been exported as PDFs, they can be shared or archived together with other documents related to a specific project or client.
  • Centralized storage — By storing relevant emails in a central location, companies avoid legal risks associated with inadequate records management practices.
  • Automated exports — Lets user go about their business without worrying about email archiving which happens automatically.

Learn more about SWING Software’s email archiving tools or bookmark the web page for later reference.

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