Forensic Update

Reflections on information management within the legal and regulatory arena

Information Governance & eDiscovery: Flip Sides of the Same Coin…

Posted by Johnny Lee on January 7, 2014

78be66a8bffe4c4c85edf0b44a1f04e6[1]I’m excited to have been selected to present a keynote address at the upcoming AIIM Conference in April 2014.  As a furtherance to that invitation, I was asked a series of questions about my presentation.  As these were excellent questions, I thought I’d re-post them here, along with my answers to same.  I hope that you find these valuable.

Q: Briefly define information governance

A: I would define Information Governance as an enterprise-wide program that incorporates multiple organizational disciplines and that contemplates policies, procedures, processes, and controls designed and implemented to manage information at an enterprise level. Properly derived, Information Governance supports an organization’s immediate and long-term operational, regulatory, legal, and risk management requirements as they relate to the management of information.

Q: We keep reading about ediscovery and governance, who cares?

A: Organizations with a strategic view of these things recognize that Information Governance and eDiscovery are flip sides of the same coin. Simply put, the only way to diminish the significant risks attendant with eDiscovery is to go “upstream” of that triggering event, working to put in place the very policies, procedures, processes, and controls referenced above. The failure to “care” about this means that an organization will always venture into the eDiscovery game on a reactive (and thereby less effective) footing.

Q: Who SHOULD care? And Why?

A: Historically, the province of eDiscovery has been handled between an organization’s IT department and legal counsel. That said, as missteps in both eDiscovery and general data management practices carry increasingly severe penalties, creating proactive, long-term solutions is becoming the province of numerous groups across the enterprise — from the compliance and legal departments to the operational, financial, and executive branches as well (i.e., those with the best knowledge of the content being sought and analyzed).

Q: You mention an IT and legal disconnect in your description, how do you bridge that gap?

A: For the most part, the legal and IT camps have been separated by a common language. Many of the issues related to Infobesity (or the unnecessary storage of data that carries no operational value — and, worse, that carries significant risk) have arisen from the failure of these groups to communicate effectively about the long-term ramifications of maintaining the status quo. The only way to bridge this gap is for these two groups to meet in the middle, with each understanding the particular challenges the other is facing. This is not easy, but it is the only meaningful way that organizations can hope to reduce the digital haystacks before they are forced to sift through them in search of a few needles.

Q: What’s one key enabling tool for ediscovery and/or governance?

A: While we’re still many years away from any so-called magic bullet, there have been tremendous advances in technologies that can assist in these efforts. One of the most promising technological developments in recent years is the concept of predictive coding (or auto-classification) of large document sets. This technology holds a lot of promise for organizations looking for a cost-effective and defensible means to shrink their digital haystacks.

Q: One key best practice for ediscovery?

A: One of the most game-changing best practices in the eDiscovery space is good, old-fashioned project management. Proactive communication, scope-setting, and right-expertise-at-the-right time can make all the difference between a successful eDiscovery exercise and one that falters. This sounds simplistic, but many organizations still struggle to recognize this fundamental truth.


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