Businesses today predominantly deal with electronically stored information (ESI), which may include “traditional” documents, like contracts, or “non-traditional” data such as emails or direct messages. Either way, it’s liable to include sensitive information. 

    Whether it’s financial information, contracts, or PII from employees and customers, organizations need access to critical data in many situations. The most obvious is eDiscovery during litigation, where failing to adapt your policies and workflows to this new norm can be devastating. 

    You may be forced to choose technological help quickly without your preferred level of due diligence and likely outside of your budget. You may also miss court deadlines, which can lead to additional consequences. Worse still, the wrong eDiscovery tool — or lack thereof — could lead to inadvertent disclosure of confidential information. A massive headache for any lawyer or business. 

    As your business reevaluates its data governance processes, the question becomes: Should you invest in an eDiscovery tool?

    The benefits of the right technology 

    When it comes to litigation, a key benefit of having an eDiscovery tool long before a dispute arises is the ability to tackle redundant, obsolete, and trivial (ROT) data and maintain defensible retention and deletion policies. Your efforts to track, classify, and reduce data make future discovery obligations more manageable and less costly. Plus, you can diminish the number of materials for review — possibly by the thousands or millions.

    But having meaningful access to your data can have a beneficial impact that ripples far beyond your legal department. For example:

    • If your business is subject to GDPR or California’s data privacy laws, accessing information is essential to responding to subject access requests quickly and accurately. Given the fines involved with violating these data privacy laws, you’ll want the right technology to help you stay on top of compliance. 
    • Beyond data privacy, your industry may be heavily regulated, in which case compliance is essential. As are internal audits and the ability to cooperate with government-led audits. Technology can ease the burden of these investigations considerably. 
    • A great deal of due diligence is required for major business transactions, like mergers and acquisitions or initial public offerings. You’ll want the ability to drill down into your business’s data and leverage it for the best deal possible. 

    There are countless other examples, but they all boil down to the same principle. Any time a business wants to take advantage of its data or produce specific data for another party, it needs the ability to find, view, redact, and transfer data efficiently. 

    Where do I start?

    There’s a lot to do before choosing and implementing eDiscovery technology, including mapping out where your data lives, updating policies, and crafting workflows. We recommend tackling this with a “people, process, and technology” framework to ensure you cover all of your bases.

    First, consider who within the organization has a stake in data governance and discovery and form a committee. Relevant departments will likely include legal, IT, compliance, and risk management.

    Once you’ve identified your stakeholders, the next step is data mapping. Your organization can’t locate the right information unless it has documentation of where it’s created and stored. This map doesn’t have to be anything fancy — a list or a spreadsheet is a great place to start. Be sure to review and update your data map regularly as your business adds or changes platforms. 

    Next, stakeholders should think carefully about crafting policies as they will drive information governance processes. These policies may answer questions like:

    • Can employees access work data on their personal devices? 
    • Where may employees save work information?
    • Based on regulations and industry best practices, what information should the organization retain and for how long?
    • What information can be deleted and when?
    • How will the organization enforce its defensible data retention and deletion policies?
    • How will the organization handle legal holds?

    Your governance policies should correspond to your stakeholders’ workflows and training. It’s good to view this on a departmental rather than individual basis, as relying on specific people can lead to knowledge gaps if they leave the organization. 

    It’s important to note: not every task has to be handled inside of your organization. When creating workflows for eDiscovery and other situations, stakeholders should discuss the merits of keeping the process in-house versus working with outside counsel, vendors, or both. 

    Once the people and process portions are worked out, stakeholders should assess what technology can streamline governance and discovery. Finding the technology that best addresses your business’s needs can take time and a good deal of investigation, but the good news is that you can leverage vendors to do a lot of that legwork for you. Take advantage of their willingness to prove what they can do for your organization, and work with them to calculate potential ROI. 

    Ready to invest in the right eDiscovery tool?

    Between rapid data proliferation, maturing regulations, and so much more, the reasons to invest in an eDiscovery tool are ever-expanding. The right tool can address discovery effectively from the beginning of a lawsuit and ensure you stick within a budget. But more than that, eDiscovery technology is part of a comprehensive information governance program. 

    If your organization is like most and uses several workplace applications, you likely have immense amounts of data in siloed systems. All of which will matter when it comes to discovery, internal audits, M&A due diligence, regulatory investigations, and more. The right solution will centralize these disparate data systems, giving you a fully searchable repository of information, so when any of these scenarios arise, you can feel confident the right data is in reach. 

    If this seems like the proactive approach you need, check out Onna eDiscovery. Reach out to learn more, and come visit us again for more industry insights!

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