Top 5 ediscovery landmines for IT to avoid

Clearwell Systems has prepared a list of the top five e-discovery landmines to avoid from an IT and storage perspective, meant to help IT personnel prepare for their emerging and vital role in bringing e-discovery in-house.

1. Underestimating the "Real" Cost of Storage: Declining storage costs (per-GB costs have dropped from close to $US20 in 2000 to less than $US0.10 in 2010) have resulted in a "save everything" approach for many IT departments. However, the real cost of keeping everything often lies beneath the surface. During e-discovery the cost to process and review that stored data is multitudes more, often averaging $US5,000 per GB in terms of processing and legal review costs. With this in mind, there must be a change in data retention policies to avoid a downstream data deluge and the crippling resultant costs.

2. Assuming that Email Archiving is the Silver Bullet: Email archiving is an important step in good data hygiene, but it is not the complete solution for two important reasons. First, most email archiving products do not offer the advanced analysis and review capabilities the legal team requires in response to discovery and compliance requests. Second, email archives are just one piece in the rapidly expanding spectrum of data sources -- such as collaboration tools (SharePoint, wikis, blogs), social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) and structured databases (ERP, CRM systems) -- that are increasingly becoming relevant sources of discoverable material. Make sure to consider a solution that covers all critical data sources involved in e-discovery, not just email.

3. Relying Solely on Technology to Solve the Problem: Technology is a crucial element in e-discovery, but it is not the sole answer. Similar to any business process within the enterprise, effective and defensible e-discovery requires a balance of people, processes and technology. In addition to the right technological solution, enterprises must deploy best practice workflows and staff with experienced people who can manage the entire process.

4. Trying to Solve a Non-Linear Problem with a Linear Approach: E-discovery is an iterative process that involves back and forth between the preservation, collection and review phases. For example, the scope of a collection, which is typically handled by IT, could vary greatly depending on the feedback from legal, which analyses and reviews data. Any such downstream change would require IT to go back and perform additional collections. Traditional approaches are often rigid and require multiple tools to be used to complete the e-discovery process, inhibiting best-practice workflows and increasing errors resulting from manual hand-offs. Be sure to select solutions that support an iterative e-discovery workflow across IT and legal departments and cover multiple phases of the e-discovery process.

5. Attempting to Boil the Ocean with "Index Everything": It can be tempting for IT to turn to a solution that can index all data sources -- laptops, desktops, file servers, SharePoint servers, databases, email archives, content management systems -- and enable legal to perform early case analysis across the entire enterprise in an instant. The reality is that while such a solution may work for small and medium-sized companies with a finite scope of data, the level of complexity in scale and operations makes this simply not an achievable approach for most large enterprises. Be realistic; leverage the capabilities of your existing systems in crafting a proactive early case assessment strategy tailored to the needs of your organization.

"Nothing aligns IT and legal departments' interests more than the e-discovery challenge, and with the Enterprise Strategy Group's survey revealing that 73 percent of enterprises plan to bring e-discovery in-house this year, the two departments will increasingly need to work hand in hand," said Dean Gonsowski, VP of E-Discovery Services at Clearwell Systems.

"E-discovery dramatically increases in complexity corresponding to the growth of data volumes within an organisation, and without best practices, this data deluge can result in significant spoliation risks and out-of-control costs. By taking the necessary first step of addressing some of these storage and data management issues from the outset, IT can play a critical role in e-discovery and help greatly reduce risk and cost."