Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Greg Buckles. Published: 2012-12-06 09:37:19  The ScenarioYour boss says, “Legal wants eDiscovery, so go buy it for them.” Like a good IT director who understands when he doesn’t know something, you immediately hit the internet to get up to speed before you meet with the legal department. A fast Google search (*search from startpage.com to prevent personalization from affecting results) for “ediscovery” starts off with adds from Barracuda and Google Apps.  You think to yourself, “So this eDiscovery thing is related to compliance, archiving and retention policies. Great, I understand those things.” The remainder of the first page is dominated by links to software from Xerox, Symantec, IBM and then some other companies that you do not recognize. “Even better, the big boys will have the best eDiscovery software all packaged up and ready to demo. Always safer to buy from them.”, You conclude.   Luckily for you, lots of other folks have asked the question, “What is eDiscovery?”, so there is a Wikipedia entry, articles with that title and several organizations that have definition pages like AIIM and something called the EDRM. You dig into these and figure that you can start to scope this thing. “Hmm, this eDiscovery thing seems to touch everything and it uses all kinds of special terminology. The security companies talk about it as hacking, computer forensics and investigations. The archive companies seem to want to journal the entire enterprise just in case we get sued. I’m not sure what all this privilege and spoliation stuff is, but how much is it costing us to ‘review’ everything? I can’t tell what is eDiscovery software we buy versus eDiscovery services that some vendor does for us.”The Dilemma:You finally schedule a meeting with the Legal department in hopes that they can narrow the scope of the project. The meeting starts out promising enough. The attorney and paralegal with the big case dove right into the huge bills that they are paying for something they call ‘processing and hosting’.The attorney explained that, “Every week VendorX comes in and collects from custodians, Exchange, SharePoint and anywhere else we have found files relevant to this case. Then they charge us by the gigabyte to remove the dupes, index it and run search terms. Then, the hits get loaded to SoftwareY for the review teams.”Based on this, you then asked, “So you want to buy SoftwareY and whatever software VendorX is using?” That’s where the meeting went downhill. Purchasing the best eDiscovery software was not enough because Legal needed the headcount to run the software. You know that technology and bodies need process to be a success. A couple more questions quickly established that a mix of vendors and outside counsel’s project managers have supplied that process up to this point. This has added expensive consultants into the in-sourcing equation.You then remembered several of your Google hits offered‘eDiscovery in the Cloud’. “That’s the answer! No servers, storage or headcount to budget for! I bet they even have project managers to run the cases.”“Put our executive’s email and confidential files in the Cloud?” Asked the attorney who now had doubt written all over her face.“How do we get them the data? Do they come pick it up like VendorX?” Asked the paralegal.“Doh. Collection. I guess that can be a second project.”Doubt and confusion had the team going in circles. Every time they decided on an approach they ran into another issue or conflict between the different players, technology and company systems that they were trying to accommodate. When the meeting finally ended, the team left with more questions than answers and a long list of items to investigate.Further InvestigationNot to be deterred, the attorney decided to attend several eDiscovery events to see what her peers were doing about this problem. She came back convinced that this thing called Predictive Coding would solve everything. They could ‘train’ this technology in a day and it would collect, process and produce only the relevant items. Never mind that she did not understand how it worked. She now had lots of cards from providers ready to demo their solution and a date with an eDiscovery counsel to ‘talk shop’.Since no one was going to let him jet around to swanky conferences, the paralegal decided to post questions to his social networks and Litsupport lists. His phone rang for a solid month and his mailbox was constantly over the size limit as every eDiscovery sales rep in the market caught onto the fact that Acme, Inc. was buying eDiscovery. He gained ten pounds from all the cookies, Starbuck’s cards and ‘free lunches’, but was even more confused about what they needed.The LighbulbFinally it dawns on you that, “This thing is too big to tackle with all at once. Reminds me of those bloody SOX initiatives. We need to break this up and apply some structure to the entire ‘Acme eDiscovery solution’. It is obvious that the legal teams have been reacting to these discovery fire drills as they come up. This eDiscovery thing is not going away, so we need to build it into our business process, just like we did with access controls and disaster recovery. I bet that someone has built some business process road maps like the Capability Maturity Model.”The SolutionSo you create a list to start from:

  • Identify the biggest pain points – cost, risk & effort
  • Quantify Acme’s yearly eDiscovery profile – number of cases, custodians per case, volume per custodian/source, ESI sources
  • Break down and prioritize eDiscovery lifecycle phases –Information Governance, Preservation/Collection, Processing/Review/Production
  • Determine solution approach for each phase – In-source, Hosted/Cloud or Outsourced
  • Define key goals and measureable indicators of success
  • It gave them a way to carve the problem into manageable chunks and to start justifying the budget required to make a difference. Legal came to IT asking for help, but the entire team needed to redefine the problem and what success looked like before they could move forward.

Sound familiar? It should.eDiscoveryJournal Contributor and eDJ Group Lead Analyst – Greg Buckles

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