‘Old Way’ for email lacks control
Matching typical corporate use, Pacific Life generates millions of emails every year. Most emails are transitory or only useful for a short time, while others constitute records or references that must be stored in compliance with industry regulations and obtained, when needed, for litigation requirements. For instance, insurance policies—often spanning decades themselves—and related email documentation must be maintained for seven years after termination. Finding emails amid the years and lists can be a monumental undertaking.
The “old way” of handling email couldn’t support progress, as described by Dan Galan, Manager, CIT messaging and document management for Pacific Life: “Mailboxes would grow, they’d run out of space, everything would get dumped into public folders. Then, data would be everywhere.” Accommodating storage for terabytes of email content is enough to induce headaches and budget woes. But, that’s the good news. Legal risk and discovery costs associated with unmanaged email can be devastating.
Volume and ubiquity made email a prime target for modification. Cindi Vega, consultant and document management specialist for Pacific Life, explained, “Our corporate compliance area knew they needed to start reining in all the unstructured data and the first area they attacked, because of volume, was email.” However, she notes, the largest challenge in the process was not finding the right technology, but gaining agreement for its use.
“Pacific Life has a decentralized environment,” she said, “so each business unit has autonomy to buy products they need to support business… the key challenge related to setting a policy and for all groups to all agree upon that policy.”
To mitigate the risks of noncompliance and litigation concerning email content, Pacific Life formed a committee involving several departments and focused on finding a systematic way to store legally required documentation while disposing of unnecessary material.
Email governance and security
Pacific Life needed a system that would keep or sweep emails, based on business needs and rules, then ease the process of finding information when called upon. “Our initial implementation of OpenText technology aimed to archive email, enable retention rules for corporate compliance, and make it discoverable,” said Galan. The insurance company implemented OpenText™ Email Management for Microsoft® Exchange for email governance and security, then expanded content management to other areas with integrated solutions, including OpenText™ Content Suite and OpenText™ Archive Server.
One key to successful information management at Pacific Life is that the compliance department makes decisions on policies and the IT team puts them into action. Galan noted, “When compliance stands behind you and says, ‘This is what we’re going to do,’ and we get consensus from the appropriate committee groups, there are no issues.” To offset its distributed organizational structure, Pacific Life executed a successful email management campaign to gain input, acceptance and involvement from managers and users. But the process would only have been an exercise in teamwork if the technology was not the right solution for Pacific Life.
Galan and Vega confirm OpenText is a fit for the large and long-standing company, referring to enterprise-caliber content management with customizable capabilities, security, and integration with external systems. “Our investment in OpenText allows us to be flexible to business needs,” Galan noted.