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Why businesses should ban email attachments
Mon, 27th May 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The humble email attachment is an integral part of daily business communication – but according to one company, email attachments should be banned outright in favour of more ‘secure' and ‘reliable' collaboration methods.

“Businesses rely on documents to operate,” says M-Files ANZ alliance and partner director, Nicholas Delaveris. “When people are working from an outdated version of a document, they can waste time, make errors, and potentially risk the success of the project they're working on.

“Furthermore, documents shared via email can easily be sent to the wrong person accidentally, compromising information security. Organisations can benefit from eliminating email attachments altogether, replacing this outdated mode of collaboration with a modern, intelligent information management system.

The company says there are several other ways email attachments are inefficient:

1. Version control delays. When various team members have worked on a document, it takes significant extra work to go through each version and parse the different edits into one document.

Not only that, but those team members may at some point be viewing an outdated version, changes can be missed, and incorrect information could slip through.

2. Disorganised approval processes. Even if documents don't need to be edited by various team members but simply approved, email isn't the most efficient way to manage this. For example, if a project manager sends an attachment to 20 team members asking for a simple reply to confirm approval, they must then keep track of who out of the 20 recipients has replied, who has approved the document, and who has made changes. They'll also need to chase the people who don't respond in a timely manner. All of this takes time and creates myriad opportunities for errors.

3. Confidentiality issues. Email attachments are uncontrolled duplicates. Once an attachment has been sent, it exists in an environment outside the creator's control and can be edited and forwarded without oversight. And, the email attachment could be sent to an unintended recipient. In short, document creators have no access control.

  • An enterprise content management (ECM) system easily solves these inefficiencies by letting users:
  • Share the document with a link to one unified version, rather than an attachment which spins off many different versions. From there, content stakeholders can check the document out, make changes or comments and check it back in for the next person, effectively enforcing a single document process.
  • Control who can access the document and who can edit it, and add, remove, or suspend access to the document if the stakeholder group changes.
  • Monitor quickly which recipients have accessed the document and who hasn't yet completed the assignment.
  • Request sign-off in the form of a simple assignment workflow where users mark the document as completed and receive automatic reminders.
  • Inspect the entire document history including version changes, who edited it and when, and what edits were made.
  • Facilitate mobile access to content.

“Most organisations don't think twice about using email attachments for collaboration,” says Delaveris. “However, this method is inefficient and risky. Businesses should consider an ECM system to avoid these challenges, increase their operational efficiency, and improve their document security capabilities.