​When it comes to offboarding employees, there are several possible e-mail strategies that can be employed. Of course this depends on the technology that is available and the type of e-mail system in place.

If the employees files and/or emails are not necessary to retain, simply delete the mailbox or user. This will delete their mailbox (and possibly other relevant AD data) so be careful. Future emails will simply bounce back to the sender with a recipient not found error.

Retaining e-mail for lengthy periods of time can be beneficial and detrimental in the case of a law suit, so you may want to discuss your retention policy with an attorney. Some industries are required to retain email for specific periods of time due to regulation, that should be considered as well.

To retain emails for deleted mailboxes, an optional PST file can be exported and saved however these are difficult to track, manage and secure and is not an ideal method of retention. If you need to access those email items in the future, the file has to be imported to connected to an Outlook client and search can be painfully slow.

You can keep the mailbox intact for easy access by resetting the offboarded employee’s password. This will lock the ex-employee out while continuing to receive emails at the mailbox. Keeping a mailbox on-line can add cost (storage, licensing), but it’s very convenient if you need to access the user’s mailbox quickly, at some point in the future. New emails can be forwarded to another mailbox, or a mailbox delegation can be created to allow other employees to view and reply to new e-mails on behalf of the offboarded employee.

If you keep the mailbox on-line, but you don’t want forwarding or delegation set up, an Out of Office (OOF) message can be created to alert senders that the person is no longer employed. You can also stop the mailbox from receiving new emails in which case it will rejected and bounce back to the sender.

There are many offboarding strategies so here are the main things to consider when creating your own:

  • Do you want the user’s email items to be retained in an on-line mailbox, as off-line PST file or simply deleted.
  • Do you want future emails to the mailbox to be accepted or rejected?
  • Do you want an Out of Office message for mailboxes athat continue to accept mail?
  • Do you want mailbox delegation or mail forwarding for mailboxes that continue to accept mail?

Using these bullet points, it’s easy to create a uniform offboarding strategy for e-mail.

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