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Monday, December 15, 2008

Emails: The Trouble of Having Official Submittals

Few years ago, I attended a symposium about latest trend on electronic documentation. All presenters were well prepared with their scripts and slide presentations and most of the audience were excited to hear their subject of interest. Even though how much been prepared, when the open forum started, everything went on a surprise as everyone were eager to raise a question.

With all the questions and debate had been started, there was one subject that will never forget: it was about Emails. Here are samples of questions raised:

How can we make a submittal through email as official?
Can someone's email be used as evidence for judicial court procedure?
Is electronic signature for emails enough to make it as official letter?
Will they accept my yahoomail?

so on and so forth...

I was a document controller before of a major construction project. It was so crucial to identify all official submissions being made. A simple information might lead into an additional job costing a million bucks. Proper channeling and archiving should be made. All submittals including request for information and approval should follow a certain procedure together with appropriate forms. Emails without necessary forms are not allowed.

Most of us are aware how email technology improved our daily lives. With this technology, all postal services need to review their business plans, if not to diversify. Email enabled us to transfer files and documents in seconds... anytime, anywhere (as long as you have access with technology).

However, there is still an issue that most of the companies asked with regards to email: How OFFICIAL email is? There were several factors why this issue still a concern and worries us a lot. Malicious programs like trojans, worms, and other known virus that penetrates our email systems. Phishing is also a concern.

"In the field of computer security, phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication"
- Wikipedia

How you ever been received an email which looks so authentic because it talks much about you. All information are true and seems like he knows everything going on you at the moment. You where about to follow the instruction until you realized that the one who sent you the email was Bill Gates. Unless you are really a friend of Mr. Gates, this is definitely a fraud.

And what if this someone used your boss name and send you an email instructing you to do something, how can you identify if it is real when all standard formats where been used?

This is something to consider: in all undertaking that you or your company should be entering to, there should be a clear policy on how to make official correspondence and how to treat email as a medium of transferring files and information.

If you have the privilege to do a system in document controlling, create a policy on how to control, manage, archive, and record emails. Although there are many softwares out there that can help you, having an understanding of a clear policy will make your day easier. A policy such as: how to give a SUBJECT, identifying ATTACHMENTS on your email, and when to start another subject.

If not, oh boy what a mess!
those replies... from here and there... every minute... every second...
they were talking on Submission A then later on another irrelevant topic.... but the SUBJECT LINE still reads

So if I were you I will act now!


  1. Hello!!! How are you doing?

    Really interesting post! I personally don't think emails should be used for this purpose, could be risky!! Keep up the good work!!

    While I am here I thought I would let you know I have FINALLY written the next installment of Jack and Stephanie, now with a new working title as well! Please come over and catch up on the story and let me know what you think!!! I am also going to be rewriting the rest of the story in the next couple of weeks!!

    Hope to hear from you soon!! Keep enjoying your adventure!