Here is a quote from one of the respondants to the recent survey by State Records New South Wales of e-mail usage in public authorities
Even when emails are captured in our EDRMS (electronic documents and records management system) users focus on capturing emails from their inbox (i.e. email received) and forget about the need to capture sent emails. While it is easy to set up automated links between email folders and the EDRMS, a set and forget method, users fail to save their sent emails to the linked folder. I have failed to find an elegant, non-intrusive method to achieve the capture of the whole ‘story’.
The vision of having colleagues co-operate together to maintain a file that tells the whole story of a piece of work remains tantalisingly out of reach, even in the case of the organisation quoted above, who seem to have done all the right things.
They have integrated their electronic records management system with the e-mail client so that folders in staff e-mail accounts can be linked to folders in the records system. What more can they do?
The market will bring a solution to the specific ‘sent items’ problem that the respondent mentioned,through some sort of conversation threading so that sent e-mails are treated together with the e-mails that they responded to/received in response.
But at the same time it will bring different disruptive technologies – for example-mail access on smart phones that are too small to support drag and drop to folders; cloud e-mail that might prompt an organisation to dispense with the e-mail client that had been integrated to the electronic records system etc.
Technology gives with one hand and takes with the other. And the sheer fact of constant change means that colleagues/end-users do not have enough time in any one technological configuration to develop the shared routines and habits that would lead to them keeping a complete electronic file for each piece of work that their team undertakes.