Email archiving critical to compliance for Tasman District Council
“The real ROI for me is in the people hours we’ve gained back. We’re not having to waste time doing backups and restores. We’re not having to take people off key project work to deal with email issues. We can get on with our jobs – everything just works.”
Tasman District Council has blazed a trail as the first local government organisation to use SMX Cloud Email Archiving to meet compliance obligations.
Implementing the state-of-the-art SMX Cloud Email Archive solution has meant Tasman District Council is well placed to meet its regulatory compliance obligations in terms of storage and retrieval of business documentation and correspondence. Tasman District Council has been an SMX customer since 2007, when it signed up to use the SMX inbound and outbound email filtering solution.
For Tasman District Council Information Services Manager, Peter Darlington, the key drivers for implementing an email archiving solution at the Council can be summarised succinctly as: ‘Risk management, contestability, and meeting statutory requirements.’
Tasman District Council represents a region that covers 9,786 square kilometres across the top left hand side of New Zealand’s South Island. It encompasses five wards and 17 settlements. As for all local government organisations, securely storing, managing and being able to quickly and easily retrieve information for a variety of purposes is very important.
The Council is required by law to store and be able to easily access and retrieve all pertinent information related to Council business matters. Peter Darlington says the Council did have a document management system but no email archiving, so not all email was being captured. Darlington’s team is currently in the process of implementing a comprehensive document management system across the organisation, of which SMX’s Cloud Email Archive forms a key part.
“We started talking with SMX about email archiving around 18 months ago. When they said they were in the process of establishing an email archiving solution, I said we’d be keen to trial it when it was ready.”
In the meantime, Darlington and his team investigated various email archiving options, including several appliance-based solutions, before making the decision to proceed with trialling the SMX Cloud Email Archive.
“The appliance-based solutions we looked at were fairly pricy to set up and manage. In contrast, the SMX archiving solution was simpler to implement, with less upfront cost, and we could be up and running quicker. It just made sense to trial SMX’s new service,” Darlington says.
On 1 March 2016 the Council commenced an extended, no-obligation, six-month trial of the SMX archiving solution. Darlington says the implementation couldn’t have been simpler.
“As an existing SMX customer, with the SMX email gateway and management console already installed, implementing the Archive was as quick and easy as flipping a switch. It really was as quick and simple as SMX ticking a box giving us access to Archiving, then refreshing the console, signing it off, and we were ready to go. Couldn’t be simpler.”
The SMX Cloud Email Archive can be largely self-managed. The SMX support team is readily available for direct issues management if needed.
The SMX Cloud Email Archive runs in the background, seamlessly and automatically archiving all email sent and received by the organisation’s 160 users. It is completely invisible to end users. There has been no noticeable impact on users or customers, Darlington says.
Furthermore, using the SMX Email Archive to retrieve and restore emails is really straightforward: “The system is intuitive and so incredibly simple to use, it’s a doddle, really,” he says.
“If we need to retrieve all the documents and email correspondence related to a specific issue from a specific period, from the email console we can set the parameters for the search, conduct the search, easily extract the relevant emails, ZIP and save them to a suitable location. It’s a lot simpler than a traditional search, where we would have to go back through email database backups.”
As part of the trial, Tasman District Council agreed to provide feedback to SMX to help improve the archiving solution’s functionality for all users, and this has already proved fruitful. At the beginning of the trial period, Council found it was unable to search headers and retrieve emails where the envelope sender was using an SRS-encoded email address. As a direct result of this feedback, SMX enhanced the archiving solution functionality with a search feature that includes the ability to parse, index and search across headers including the ‘To’ and ‘CC’ headers in all emails.
The Council is now archiving all email. Darlington says while they haven’t yet had to do a big restore job, it’s comforting to see the archive building daily.
“Right now, everything is working smoothly and there’s not really much to tell yet. An archive builds over time. On day one, it’s worth nothing. Over months and years, the older it gets, information builds up and it becomes more and more valuable. So, in say 12 to 18 months’ time, when we have to do a restore – that’s when the archive will really prove its worth.
“It’s good to see the repository growing from day to day. Knowing that email messages are saved and available if and when we need them, all backed up across layers we couldn’t hope to implement in house, is reassuring and really important. The SMX environment is built on resilience and keeping everything live. It’s spread across multiple locations so there is no single point of failure – offering much more resilience than we could achieve on our own.”
The email archiving system is about compliance outside of the Council’s existing document management system, Darlington says.
“Prior to this, we couldn’t guarantee we could retrieve every thread of a conversation/correspondence if required to. We weren’t meeting our statutory requirements without an email archiving system in place,” he says.
The SMX Email Archive solution has helped meet Darlington’s key drivers – risk management, contestability, meeting statutory requirements – head on, ‘capturing absolutely everything via email’. And the additional benefits are also very clear: It’s cloud-based, self-managed and very simple to use, and has saved the Council ‘a lot of money’, chiefly due to low establishment costs. But the real ROI is in people hours gained back, Darlington says.
“We’re not having to waste time doing backups and restores. We’re not having to take people off key project work to deal with email issues. We can get on with our jobs – everything just works.”
With the trial almost complete, Peter Darlington is confident of the way forward for Tasman District Council.
“We can certainly see ourselves continuing with the service. We are happy with the progress,” he says.
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