Email metadata in SharePoint
Managing emails on SharePoint?
To enable a compliant records management system it becomes imperative to describe the record by capturing relevant properties like its context, author, date and time stamps etc. This set of data describing the record is called the metadata or as I like to call, data about data. Metadata not only helps in classification (filtering or grouping or sorting) of records but helps users find and retrieve the information quickly by giving it a context.
Capturing metadata should become a standard process of saving information. This helps organising the information and giving it meaningful structure. End users mostly find this process cumbersome and time consuming while trying to perform their day to day activities; which results in poor user adoption, increased work load on the Records and Information Management team and increased risk to records compliance.
Records Management & User Adoption
The simplest way to address user adoption is to automate the metadata capture. While some metadata is automatically captured by SharePoint like date created/modified, author, title, version history etc. for all electronic documents, but in case of emails these metadata loses it’s meaning by the time it ends up on SharePoint. This is because the system captures the date when the email was saved into it and NOT the actual date it was sent/received or the actual author of the email.
As an example,
Nick send an email to Kate on 04 April. Kate works on the email and decides to save this on their EDRMS system a day later. The system will record the author as Kate (since she was the one who uploaded/added the document) and Created Date to be the 05 April which is when the email was loaded into it.
In the above example, the created date should be recorded as the 04 April and author as Nick because, it was Nick who originally sent it. So this information needs to be manually entered into the system by the user, along with other important metadata like subject of the email, attachments, cc list etc. Without this correct metadata searching for emails, classification and retention would become challenging.
Automate Metadata Capture
There are a few ways we can approach this:
- Calculated columns: these can be used for calculations based on dates, numbers, string manipulation etc. and have conditional logic using the IF statement.
- Workflow: they can be used for advance features like lookup based calculation, approvals, web service call etc.
- Code: use this for all other automation use cases. SharePoint offers CSOM & JSOM for accessing most of its objects using client code/scripts.
Email Metadata in SharePoint
And what about email metadata? Well, SharePoint out-of-box does not provide a method to automate the extraction of email properties.
We have developed Konnect eMail SharePoint Email Parser app that can be used for this specific use case by deploying it to the SharePoint farm/tenancy. It automates this manual process of capturing emails actual properties resulting in lower rate in user adoption of SharePoint as an EDRMS and reducing the risk to records compliance.