Understand WorkflowBy David Strom | Posted 2009-09-29 Print
When implemented correctly, the best e-discovery systems can save a pile of cash and time, and can become real productivity boosters.
Third, understand your document workflows at both the departmental and enterprise levels. Inefficient, duplicate and overlapping workflows can stretch the cost of e-discovery, says Doris Pulsifer, senior manager of the Knowledge Management Group at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, a Chicago-based architectural and engineering firm.
Litigation is becoming too complex not to approach it in a structured way, points out Andrew Drake, assistant general counsel for discovery management for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. in Columbus, Ohio. The company is using Guidance Software’s EnCase eDiscovery, which automatically performs search, collection, preservation and processing of electronically stored information.
“With poor workflow, technology tools will just magnify bad practices,” warns Best of Munger, Tolles and Olson. “If you have a good, solid workflow and get a couple of good tools, you can save a lot of money and pay for the tools with a single suit. But if you don’t have the workflow, you will be wasting your money.”
It’s crucial for a company to get a handle on what data it has and how it is stored, and document a process for retrieving that data when a crisis hits, such as a subpoena, investigation or e-discovery document request, says Straight of Kroll Ontrack. “It sounds obvious, but we find that even when companies have data maps, the maps are often woefully out of date or are in a form that only an IT professional can understand,” he says.
Fourth, understand that just because a document is electronic doesn’t mean that you can capture the information needed for legal matters. “We also have to be able to manage content from a broad spectrum of other places, such as proprietary legacy systems, forensic data like hard-drive images and, of course, paper,” says Drake of Nationwide Mutual Insurance.
Skidmore, Owings and Merrill finds it challenging to track construction drawings in its CAD system because there are often multiple layers of a drawing that are no longer valid. “Also, we use Microsoft Project, and getting accurate information of our project plan can be tricky because there are many ways to view the data,” Pulsifer explains. “Sometimes we just end up producing PDFs to capture this information.”
The final part of the selection process is picking the right members of the evaluation team to examine the right e-discovery product. The best strategy is to have a wide variety of stakeholders on the selection team to represent various parts of the business that will use the system. These stakeholders should be identified early and given their proper role in the project, advises Best of Munger, Tolles and Olson.
When HOK piloted Newforma project information management software, the St. Louis-based architectural firm involved project managers from across the company. “We also tested it in Toronto to make sure there weren’t any international issues,” says Ken Herold, senior vice president and chief knowledge officer. “Our projects can be distributed across many offices, so that was critical when we chose our tool.”
All stakeholders should be onboard and should understand how an e-discovery tool will affect them and what they are going to be doing with the tool, Straight of Kroll Ontrack recommends. “Some e-discovery or document management tools are huge bandwidth hogs or will add some steps to how users create documents by requiring certain key fields to be filled in at the time of document creation,” he says.
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