Now that eDiscovery and information governance (IG) are fairly mainstream topics, it is important to look for signs of maturity in practice. Are organizations creating best practices? Are out-of-control eDiscovery costs actually becoming manageable? There is anecdotal evidence of moving up the maturity curve, but what does the broader data say? While analyzing the data from an IG survey eDJ Group conducted in association with ViaLumina, Ltd, there is evidence of maturity, but that evidence may actually be a red herring.
In the survey, we asked respondents if their organizations had documented legal hold notification processes. In my eyes, this is arguably the absolute minimum an organization should be doing in order to meet the guidelines of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (although the expectation is that organizations should connect the notification process to the actual collection and preservation, but I digress).
Almost 2/3 of respondents report having documented legal hold notification processes. While it is alarming that a quarter of organizations do not have documented processes, the fact that a majority of organizations do is a sign of maturity, right?
Not so fast; documented legal hold notification processes are a start, but alone are not enough to qualify for “mature practice” status. We asked respondents if they are using any kind of tools to manage and track the legal hold notification process. Unfortunately, almost half are not using any kind of tool to manage the process. A quarter of them have developed their own system internally and 20% are using a commercial off the shelf (COTS) tool. I would say this qualifies as progress, but not necessarily maturity.
More alarming, though, is that those not using a COTS tool to manage the legal hold notification process are doing very little to actually manage and track the process.
Almost a third track the process via spreadsheet, which is a labor-intensive and manual way to do it, while another third don’t track the process at all. This means there are some organizations out there at risk of major eDiscovery problems.
It is a reality that some organizations just “get it” when it comes to eDiscovery and IG, while others bask in the bliss of ignorance. Often, when working with those that do get it, I think that there is real movement up the maturity curve of IG. This survey data, though, is a sobering reminder that it is bleeding edge organizations showing signs of maturity, not necessarily the market as a whole. There is a long way to go before we can call mainstream IG practices mature.