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Apr 072014

Are you struggling to find the best settings to use for the shortcut content in your Enterprise Vault environment? There a myriad of options available, and all these add up to many different combinations of settings where it sometimes difficult to determine the overall effect that it might have on your environment and on your end users.

Should you strip attachments? These can obviously take up lots of space in the mailbox.
How many characters of the original email item should be included in the shortcut? 10, 100, 1000?
How will users access these items? From their PC, via Outlook Web App, mobile device, tablet computer?
How often will users access these items? Are you really only talking about data which is over a year old, or recent items too?

All these sorts of things and more are questions that need to be asked if you are going to arrive at an optimal shortcut content for a particular environment.

There are also lots of other things to consider, all relating to your environment. For example:

Are you trying to use Enterprise Vault to reclaim back the maximum amount of space in your environment?
Are you trying to make it easier for end-users to manage their mailbox?
Are you making it so that people can search for archived content more easily?

Picking the shortcut content policy is tricky, because there are many different things to consider. Lets discuss 2 important considerations right now, which will help us reach an optimal shortcut content setting for our environment.


Strip attachments from messages will recover lots of space. Attachments are quite large on the whole, so removing them from archived items will definitely mean that the items in the mailbox will be much smaller. It is also worth considering the advanced setting relating to non-shortcut items, particularly calendar items, where they can also have the attachments stripped. This is especially useful if you live in an environment where people have lots of meetings where presentations or documents for review are distributed before hand. Of course stripping attachments will also reduce the usability of the items, particularly if they need to be retrieved often. But think about the possibility of ‘long since’ happened meetings, and whether the content of the meeting request/appointment will ever be re-read months down the line. If it’s not very likely in your organisation then removing the attachments will not lessen the usability of the item.

Number of Characters

Fewer characters in the message body will also recover a lot of space. This in particular affects those long email threads where the body of the message just gets bigger and bigger over the course of the conversation. It’s the sheer amount of text that we’re going to get rid of which will help reduce the size. On the flip side of this though, having only a few characters in the message body will mean that usability of the shortcut might be impaired. End users might not be able to figure out what the actual message is about later on down the line. And that will lead them to not liking your policy decisions.

Other things to consider

Another thing that will help guide users in the right direction is the contents and usability of the ‘banner’ which can be added by Enterprise Vault when it creates the shortcut. The banner should be helpful to users, and be very obvious that it is covering a shortcut to an item. This will be useful to the end user because it will help trigger their education which says ‘this is an archived item, it will behave a bit differently to normal’.

Picking the right combination of shortcut content (number of characters) and whether or not to strip attachments will have a big impact on your environment and the usability of archived items with in it. It is worth spending some time figuring out the possibilities, and even perhaps taking some old sample messages, and producing mock-ups that can be shared with users. Ask users whether this 30-strong conversation-topic-reply thing is still helpful to them when it’s been shortened to just 200 characters. Ask users if they retrieve calendar items 6 months after they have taken place. Here are some more questions, which you can tailor to your needs:

– This mail has gone back and forth 30 times. It’s now 6 months later. Does only seeing 200 characters matter?

– This calendar item to review the specification document for a new engine part took place 3 months ago. Do you refer back to it? Do you open the calendar item? Do you open the attachment? How often? And why?

– Does your archiving policy potentially archive very young items? Do you have users that use devices like Blackberry, or iPhone? Turning ANY of these type of items in to shortcuts will impact the usability in a bad way.

– Do you even need shortcuts for very old items? How often are things retrieved after they have aged beyond 1 year? 2? 5?

The answers to these questions will help govern what shortcut content you should go for. Remember it is very important in the Enterprise Vault world, because rebuilding the shortcut content is a very, very, intensive process for Enterprise Vault to do.

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