Yes, it is quite common to take physical mail and divide it up into things
that are transitory (the last several announcements for the ARMA 2008
Conference next week in Las Vegas), things that are in process or that need
to be kept for now but might not be a record ultimately (your badge and
paperwork for the ARMA conference), and things that are records (your
receipt for registration for ARMA), with that last zone of stuff having
different retention according to the nature of the record.
<snip>...zone 3 for official corporate records.</snip>
Nothing in this "three-zone" approach, which I most recently heard from
Integro, is at odds with records management at all. The nature of the three
zones and their time limits is set by the organization; that last zone with
the records is then periodically moved to a real RM solution.
How would zone 3 work for archival records or items of a long-term
retention? How do they define working business content?
Same way as it does today with lots and lots of zones/folders. And the same
way as they define records, by defining them. Here's one example:
Zone 1: meeting requests until they are accepted, notices of company
non-official functions like potlucks and lunch & learns
Zone 2: Emails relating to the drafting of a contract in an organization not
required to keep all of the drafts and the details - and that's the
overwhelming majority of them. My ARMA renewal invoice. In other words,
stuff that isn't done yet.
Zone 3: Records as defined by the organization. In practice, this might be
"important" or "stuff that has to be kept" rather than "record" because most
users don't grok the distinction. Preferably thence to be removed from the
email system at some point and put into a RM repository and managed as with
any other record according to their value to the organization.
Now, to answer the original question, many email management applications can
be set up to do something like this, and all of the main email servers
(Exchange, Domino, Groupwise, JMS, etc.) can do this as well without a
The key is to figure out what should happen to the stuff in each zone and
train people on that so that they know that if they leave it in the inbox
(the "transitory zone") it's gone in 30 days. If they need it longer than
that they have to move it to a folder, any folder, all of which are covered
by the "working zone" and which has blanket retention and disposition of 180
days. Sometime during that time they have to make decisions to keep as a
record or not and to take appropriate action on the records.
It of course requires training, but so does any other approach to email
management no matter how fine- or coarse-grained except "keep everything
forever" and as everyone knows that's not exactly the desired approach. If
you disagree that this approach would meet your requirements for retention,
you'll have to explain why.
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