Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Barry Murphy. Published: 2010-09-01 12:55:38Format, images and links may no longer function correctly. One of the things I hear in vendor briefings more and more is early case assessment (ECA) happening even earlier.  This can be referred to as “very early case assessment” or “ECA in the wild” or “in-place ECA.”  At the end of the day, it’s all about moving ECA forward to happen in-line with identification and collection so that organizations can save money, make decisions earlier, and simplify the eDiscovery process.

The first “ECA solutions” focused on taking collected data sets, processing the information, and then making it available for review.  As such, these solutions focused on the process, analysis, and review modules of the EDRM, as seen in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1 – First-Generation ECA

Solutions that deliver just the processing, analysis, and review functionality of first-generation ECA can still deliver real value.  The clear trend, however, is for organizations to take more and more activity on the left side of the EDRM (information management, identification, preservation, and collection) in-house.  As such, it is better to have a more integrated “ECA solution,” one that can identify potentially responsive information across multiple data sources, collect it, preserve it (either in-place or in a dedicated preservation repository), process it, run analytics, and present the information for review in a user interface that legal professionals can quickly grasp.

By adding functionality to identify, collect, and preserve, solution providers can deliver even more costs savings and risk mitigation. A more integrated solution does not necessarily mean single-sourcing the ECA solution.  As eDiscovery is an immature market, there are not many vendor that offer end-to-end solutions.  And those that do offer “full” solutions often have modules that are weak links.  The reality is that a full ECA solution may come from a number of vendors that partner to offer full functionality.  It’s important to test that partnerships are real – that integrations are pre-built and proven as opposed to two vendors that have swapped logos for marketing purposes.

The next-generation of ECA solutions adds not only identification, collection, and preservation features, but also adds production, as seen in Figure 2 below.  While not a necessity, production features allow organizations to quickly produce data to other parties as needed without having to send data to a law firm or out to a service provider for production services.

Figure 2 – Next-Generation ECA

We will explore ECA further in a formal report on the topic, including the benefits of an integrated ECA solution, as well as some of the concerns of moving ECA to the left on the EDRM.  If your organization is doing early ECA, we’d love to hear more about it!

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