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The Importance of Information Governance as Preparation for Successful E-Discovery

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The Importance of Information Governance as Preparation for Successful E-Discovery

This article is the first of a four-part series on the topic of how, and why, information governance can and should be used as preparation for success in e-discovery.

Much has been said and written about how important it is to get a good start with respect to nearly any type of project, and nothing could be more true than when the topic is the preparation needed for a successful electronic discovery process.

The e-discovery process is often defined or illustrated by the Electronic Discovery Reference Model. Launched as a group in 2005 to address a lack of standards and guidelines in the e-discovery market, the collaborative team initially published the EDRM diagram in 2006. It remains a popular tool to clarify processes and expectations among e-discovery project stakeholders.

After its introduction, the EDRM framework was followed by additional resources, one of which is the Information Governance Reference Model. The very existence of this IGRM framework demonstrates the importance with which industry thought leaders have regarded information governance for a very long time.

To further illustrate just how critical IG is viewed as part of the e-discovery process, in May 2014, EDRM released Version 3 of the EDRM diagram, which included significant updates primarily to express the role of IG as a key piece.

Beyond the basic diagram, the EDRM provides guidelines and best practices, and continues to be a road map for successfully negotiating the oftentimes difficult (and potentially quite expensive) landscape of electronic discovery. Organizations continue to “fight the good fight” as they, along with either their general counsel or their outside counsel, begin making their way along the horizontal EDRM pathway. But the pathway is dotted with obstacles that often appear without warning, obstacles that endanger the success of the e-discovery effort.

The current model begins with, and is permeated throughout by, the very first step of Information Governance. But what does that mean? What does it mean to govern information as opposed to or compared with the management of information? This is a question being asked by many.

Following are a few thoughts to shed some light on this new and not so easy topic.

  • Both management and governance are about procedures and policies, but governance increases the focus and the requirement for policy compliance and sets in place the mechanisms to control and monitor adherence.
  • In addition, governance will hand out, or down, the negative consequences for noncompliance, much in the same way that the courts hand down sanctions for noncompliance.

Understanding what IG is – and particularly how it differs from information management – is critical to knowing how your organization can leverage IG to its advantage.

 

This short article serves to provide a very basic background on IG as a recognized step in the e-discovery process. In the following installments of this series, we will unfold three critical differences between merely managing information and governing it:

  • The Creation and/or Ingestion of Information – Information (records, documents, files, data [structured and unstructured]) is growing at an unparalleled rate; it is becoming so unwieldly that many (maybe most) organizations have little to no idea just how much they have or where it resides.
  • The Use, Modification, Storage and Retrieval of Information – , why, how, where (from/to), and what will be next regarding information use are such intricate and deeply cumbersome questions, that many organizations don’t even bother.
  • The Archiving, Release and Destruction of Information – When information ceases to be used on a daily, weekly or monthly cycle, it will often fall from the radar of most information mechanisms. When that occurs, really bad things can (and often do) happen.

Each of these installments will provide an in-depth look at relevant information governance attributes, rationales and outcomes. Stay tuned…

 

Because you need to know

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