Monday, November 17, 2008

New York State Archives e-mail guidelines

The Empire State Plaza, as seen from Albany's Lincoln Park, 17 August 2008. The New York State Archives occupies two upper floors of the Cultural Education Center, which is the low-slung inverted pyramid that serves as the plaza's southern "anchor."

The State Archives has formally released Developing a Policy for Managing Email.* This publication does not prescribe how local governments and State agencies should manage their e-mail; instead, it serves as "a starting point for State agencies and local governments," which should develop their own "policies and procedures" and revise them as circumstances change.

The executive summary outlines several principles and best practices that are discussed in greater detail in the body of the text:
  • Understand e-mail use, develop strategies that are selective, and focus resources where they are most needed.
  • Manage centrally, reducing reliance on the end user.
  • Manage electronically as much as possible, reducing reliance on users and manual management strategies.
  • Ensure cooperation, coordination, and support; that is, ensure the cooperation of all users of the e-mail system, the coordination of several key individuals throughout the organization, and management support.
  • Address any backlog by developing a strategy that is based on solid reasoning and a rational disposition strategy and that is documented in an e-mail management policy.
The guidelines discuss these principles and best practices in detail and go outline the core components that any viable e-mail policy must cover. They also provide three sample policies that illustrate how small local governments, medium-sized local governments, and State agencies might approach e-mail management.

Readers seeking one-size-fits-all solutions to the challenges of e-mail are going to be a bit disappointed, but, frankly, those solutions simply don't exist. There's no substitute for assessing one's own needs and capacities and developing a policy that addresses one's unique circumstances, and I think that these guidelines will be of interest to anyone seeking to develop an e-mail management policy.

My colleague Ann Marie did herculean labor putting together this publication, and it's great to see it up on the Web. Kudos, Ann Marie!

*The State Archives is using "email" in its publications and workshops, but I still prefer "e-mail." My stint in publishing left me with an abiding fondness for the Chicago Manual of Style, "e-mail" is Chicago style (at least at this point in time), and this is my blog. I've thus applied my own (admittedly informal) style sheet to this posting; however, for bibliographic reasons, I've left unchanged the actual title of the publication.

No comments: