I don’t recall when I wrote this or if it belongs to someone else but it is an important thing to keep in mind none the less.
Not every message that enters or leaves the organization’s e-mail system is a business record. E-Mail containing information about lunch appointments, work group discussions, and administrative notices are examples of messages that probably do not have to be managed as “official” business records and may be discarded when no longer needed.
The organization’s welfare depends on your ability to distinguish business records from nonessential to the annual company picnic has considerably less value than an external e-mail in which a contractor agrees to complete a specific project for an agreed-on fee. While the picnic announcement has little significance after the event, the contractor’s message may be needed in the future to hold the contractor to his price quoted or settle disputes over the quality or scope of work performed. Consequently, the contractor’s message is a business record and should be treated as such.
When it comes to business records, management faces a twofold challenge:
(1) You must establish a clear definition of a business record to protect the business and legal interests of the organization.
(2) You must communicate that definition clearly and consistently to all employees to ensure that the definition is applied properly, e-mail is managed effectively, and the organization’s legal interests are served.
The result: Valuable information is retained, and useless information that would otherwise overburden your system is purged.