Tag! Episode 2: Email Messages Tagged While You Wait

When email messages need to be examined for attorney/client privilege, discovery slow to a crawl. And obviously the expense of preparing for discovery goes way up. If only there were an easy way to get users to tag email messages so people don’t have to try so hard later on figuring out what’s relevant and what’s privileged.

But most tagging systems are doomed to fail, due to lack of end-user participation. I recently had the pleasure of seeing Mark Diamond, CEO of Contoural (www.contoural.com) give a presentation, and he insisted that tagging schemes needed to obey the “5-second Rule.”

The 5-Second Rule:

If it takes the user longer than 5 seconds to tag the document, (or record, or email), he or she is going to start looking for ways to get around the system instead of providing the required metadata.

Pretty sad, but entirely believable. When you think of how much trouble an employee might be saving the company by correctly tagging a message, it just makes you shake your head. Then again, incorrectly tagging a message that probably will never get examined anyways is hardly going to bring one’s company to its knees. 5 seconds is about right. Fortunately, Outlook 2007 and Exchange 2007 have a new tool that fits the bill: Message Categorization

Exchange 2007 Message Categorization

This features lets Exchange administrators create a customized drop-down menu of message categories, like “Attorney/Client Privileged,” “Company Confidential,” etc. that end users can rapidly apply to any message (in less than 5 seconds). Administrators control the name of the Category that appears in the menu, the “helper text” that appears to the end user in Outlook, as well as any text appended to the message itself.

Exchange and Outlook ship with two “default” classifications built-in, so you can see how it works, but the system is completely customizable, you’re free to create new categories or edit the default ones. Here’s a great overview of how it works: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb123498.aspx

And here’s a screenshot of what the end user sees in Outlook 2007:

Selecting the Message Classification

In our next post, we’ll examine additional rules and behaviors that Exchange administrators can configure based on message categorization.