5 Challenges with Email and Correspondence for Project Management

project-managementProject Managers are unique and multifaceted professionals that often understand multiple functions of your organization.

Inherently, the project manager (PM) role coordinates and collaborates with various stakeholders to determine the scope of a specific project that is critical to your business.

Depending on the size and makeup of your organization, these inputs can venture externally as well as span internal departments and functional levels. Continue reading 5 Challenges with Email and Correspondence for Project Management

5 Challenges with Email and Correspondence for Accounts Receivable

accounts-receivable-paidCorrespondence to and from the accounts receivable (AR) department is critical to record and archive alongside invoices for historical reference.

Miscommunications regarding receivables due to improper documentation will quickly and unnecessarily strain the client relationship while also impacting positive cash flow.

Reports provide insight into outstanding accounts, but they cannot provide the granular context to AR workflows. Too often, the context is found in the countless emails sent between your staff and your customers. How long, where and what are the best practices for these records to be kept?

Accounts Receivable Retention Requirements

Below is a table that illustrates retention requirements for accounts receivable documentation:

Records Retention Requirement (years)
Accounts, charged off 7
Accounts, payable ledger 7
Accounts receivable 10
Accounts receivable ledger 10
Balance sheets 5
Bank deposit records 6
Bank reconcilement papers 8
Bank statements 8
Bills collectible 7
Bills of sale of registered bonds 3
Bill stubs 7
Bonds canceled 3
Bonds registered Permanently
Bonds, sales or transfer 15
Budget work sheets 3
Building permits 20
Capital stock bills of sale Permanently
Capital stock certificates Permanently
Capital stock ledger Permanently
Capital stock transfer records Permanently
Cashbooks 25
Cash receipts & disbursement records 10
Cash sales slips 3
Cash slips 3
Charge slips 10
Check records 7
Check register 10
Checks, dividend 10
Checks, expense 10
Checks, paid & cancelled 9
Checks, payroll 7
Checks, voucher 6
Checks, warrants Permanently
Correspondence, accounting 5
Correspondence, credit & collection 7
Cost account records 7
Customer ledger Permanently
Donations 7
Drafts paid 8
Earnings register 3
Entertainment, gifts & gratuities 3
Estimates, projections 7
Expense reports, departmental 7
Expense reports, employees 7
Financial statements, certified Permanently
Financial statements, periodic Permanently
Fixed capital records Permanently
General cashbook 25
General journal Permanently
General journal supporting papers Permanently
General ledger Permanently
Notes, canceled 10
Note ledgers Permanently
Payroll register 7
Petty cash records 3
Plant ledger Permanently
Profit & loss statements Permanently
Property asset summary 10
Royalty ledger Permanently
Salespeople commission reports 3
Stock ledger Permanently
Tabulating cards & magnetic tape 1
Traveling auditor reports 15
Trial balance, accounts receivable 3
Trial balance sheets Permanently
Uncollectible accounts 7
Work papers, rough 2

We recommend that you have your CPA and your attorney review your AR records retention timetable before putting it into practice.

The Top 5 AR Challenges for Managing Correspondence

What if email correspondence was easily searchable alongside invoices, POs, backup and other AR related documents? Not only would the review process be more seamless for each cycle, but it also saves the AR team time, provides sales with conversation history, and enhances customer relations.

So with all these records, what are the five challenges for accounts receivable?

  1. 90% of all business correspondence is conducted via email and the email will frequently contain attachments.
  2. All correspondence with customers regarding account receivable should be considered a business record or document.
  3. Correspondence isn’t associated with the documents they reference – this can be done by invoice number.
  4. Classification, filing, and archiving email with current technologies is unorganized.
  5. Critical email correspondence isn’t integrated with existing back-end systems

Email Manager from CMA

With the right email management software the AR correspondence classification process is simple. Your AR team doesn’t have to launch another application on their desktop to document their AR correspondence. Instead, users can tag every email directly from their Microsoft Outlook interface with values pulled directly from your document management system so you can capture the account information, invoice number and any other customized information. Email Manager the automatically uploads all email correspondence in the thread, both before and after the tagged email to your document management system without any manual intervention.

What are you doing within your firm to help accounts receivable integrate, track and archive all of their email and attachments?

15 Questions To Ask When Developing An Email Management Policy

sedona-conference-logoMany organizations continue to struggle with how to effectively manage the continuing tsunami of email, while ensuring compliance with company policies, industry regulations and state/federal laws.

By answering the following questions, first asked at the Sedona Conference, you’ll be able to evaluate where your organization stands with email management:

  1. What are the current policies, processes, work practices, or procedures applicable to the creation, distribution, retention, retrieval, and deletion of email and other electronic communications in your firm?
  2. What contextual information does the email system generate? Don’t forget to include the attachments to those emails.
  3. What types of personal or distributed electronic devices are commonly used for handling email?
  4. What types of content are transmitted or received by email or contained within the message bodies?
  5. What user management practices are encouraged or tolerated for individual email accounts?
  6. What access to personal email archives exist on desktop and laptop hard drives and how often they are used?
  7. What is the role of the user in determining how long email is retained?
  8. When and how are existing email policies and procedures communicated to users?
  9. Who (and how many different functions) within the organization is responsible for or has email policies in place?
  10. How does the organization define a “record” and to what extent (percentage) are emails, usually based on content, included within this definition?
  11. How are emails with business significance, as defined by records schedules, treated?
  12. What are the current audit practices and capabilities to assure system integrity?
  13. Are users required to ascertain and classify email and to what extent is this accomplished?
  14. How is email integration into records management systems accomplished?
  15. How are litigation holds applied to email?

The Easy Answer

We believe the right answer to all 15 questions is to utilize email management software like Email Manager from CMA to build a bridge between Outlook and your document management system. In this way, the management, access, version control, retention scheduling, and other benefits of document management offers over electronic documents can be extended to email.

What email management practices do you have in your firm to ensure the timely and efficient integration, tracking and archiving of email and the attachments?

Email Management is a Key Component of Enterprise Content Management

Today, companies of all sizes are generating tremendous amounts of intellectual capital as part of their everyday business.

As a way of dealing with all of the content being generated, each of these companies has business process management in place.  It may not be a formalized process, and it may not be uniformly used, but there are accepted businesses practices in place for getting work done.

As business, and the amount of content, grows, COO’s, IT, legal and records management are realizing the necessity of having a more formalized workflow process in place.  Inherently they know that content must be managed so it can be used to accomplish the goals of the business.

Additionally, for some companies, compliance has become a significant issue. Proper business practices must be followed so that content is properly captured, stored, managed and disposed of at the appropriate and legal time in its lifecycle.

One of the sources of content that is frequently overlooked in the enterprise content management (ECM) process is email. However, email is responsible, either directly or indirectly, for approximately 90% of the business-related communications that take place in an organization – among colleagues, with customers, prospects and suppliers.

Given its ubiquity, email management is inherently a significant part of any ECM, business process management, workflow design process, document management or integrated correspondence management. It is critical that email management be considered each step in the process.

The benefits of business process management, as well as email management, have been acknowledged as significant on many fronts:

  • A faster, more reliable, more agile, more responsive company
  • Compliant with legal retention requirements
  • Improved productivity of employees
  • Reduced overhead and server expense

How are you handling email as part of your ECM or business process management initiative?