Supporting Collection Workflow
Consideration No. 5: How does the legal hold application support collection workflow?
Collection workflow is more complex than legal holds due to detailed recordkeeping requirements and the simple fact that many more IT people may be involved in completing the work. More hands and more details create more risk and a greater burden.
Consider this typical collection request sequence: Legal sends a collection instruction "over the fence" to IT in the form of an e-mail message and a spreadsheet with a list of custodians. The collection request includes getting data for one set of custodians but from multiple sources such as file shares, desktop, e-mail, messaging and applications.
In addition to executing the collection correctly, IT must also coordinate, document and audit multiple spreadsheets-one for each custodian against each data source. For IT, the spreadsheet tracking is more tedious than collecting the data. Even sophisticated collection tools don't manage the workflow and recordkeeping requirements of collections.
This very detailed record of what was collected from each custodian, when and by whom, is critical for legal. Unfortunately, with custodian data collection documented in thousands of spreadsheets, it is impossible for IT to gain any efficiencies in the process or to avoid duplicate work efforts or to inventory and dispose of its copy of the collected data. With several gigabytes per custodian per matter, this quickly escalates out of control.
Most legal hold application tools ignore this workflow (despite the fact that it's more complex and riskier) predominantly because the risk and complexity falls to IT rather than legal!
Netting it out
While it's true that legal determines what data to hold and when, the execution and communication of the holds has far-reaching impact across the enterprise. Legal is not the only stakeholder. In a growing number of court cases, an IT director is deposed or cross-examined only to reveal the poor communication and process between legal and IT. If the intent in purchasing legal holds application software is to reduce the company's risk, then all legal holds stakeholders need transparent, consistent and complete information.
Deidre Paknad is President and CEO of PSS Systems. Deidre is also the founder of the Compliance, Governance and Oversight Council (CGOC), a professional community on retention and preservation. Deidre is widely credited with having conceived and launched the first commercial applications for legal holds, collections and retention management in 2004. She is a well-respected thought leader in the legal and information governance domain. Deidre has been a member of several Sedona working groups since 2005 and leads the EDRM/IMRM working group.
She shares her insight on information governance and the process maturity model in her blog, IMHO by Deidre Paknad. Deidre is a seasoned entrepreneur and executive with 20 years of experience applying technology to poorly functioning business processes in order to reduce cost and risk. She has been profiled in several books and articles for entrepreneurship, most recently in Business Lessons from the Edge by Jim McCormick and Grade A Entrepreneurs by Marylene Delbourg Delphis. She graduated from the University of California. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.