Why eDiscovery alone is not information governance

The line between eDiscovery and Information Governance has seemingly been blurred from the get go. The problem is that when you talk about information governance you can’t help but also talk about aspects of eDiscovery. Both can be described as a way of identifying, retaining, and securing electronic documents which inevitably leads you to saying something along the lines of “but it’s different”. Because, in fact, they are different.

eDiscovery is reactive, working to find important files in a corpus that contains little to no organization.

Information governance is proactive, using policies and procedures to structure, control, and organize ESI.

The two work together to achieve a single goal of securing important documents for litigation.pic

eDiscovery vs Information Governance: The Hockey Team Example

Think of them like the offense and defense on a hockey team, with an electronic document acting as the puck. When your company becomes involved in some sort of litigation, you are on defense, attempting to regain control of the situation. That’s eDiscovery. You don’t have control of the puck and your team must figure out the best way to regain control.

But when you’re on offense you’re free to set up the play. You have spent hours thinking through every scenario and built a system which can react in a way that gives you the best opportunity for success. That’s Information Governance.

Admittedly that analogy is not perfect. It doesn’t address things like preservation, processing, analysis, and presentation which are all extremely important when building an information lifecycle. But the dynamic is on point. One team, with two types of players, working to achieve the same goal simultaneously.

Building a Winning Strategy

Building a winning strategy takes time and critical thinking. Each company will have its own unique challenges to address when it develops its own Corporate Information Governance Program. But there are several basic things everyone will need to consider when developing a strategy.

Identify Your Assets

You can’t move in the right direction until you know where you’re standing. You likely have many types of data including emails, application data, and loose files (etc. word docs, excel files, etc.). Identifying what documents are available to you, and are of value, is priority number one. Our information governance platform, Altitude IG, provides administrators with rich data visualizations and analytics which are fundamental in developing governance policies and auditing your company’s position.

Establish Policies for Identifying and Retaining Assets

Setting up the right policies can help your company save time and money when litigation does arise. It is important that the data you’re working with is accurate and up-to-date.  Sherpa’s own Marta Farensbach recently detailed the need to retain and dispose of items based on organizational value and legal requirements in her white paper, Demystifying Defensible Deletion.  Marta states, “The goal of a defensible deletion policy is to safeguard critical digital resources while maintaining effective responsiveness to legal, operational and compliance needs. If left unchecked, the electronically stored data created by today’s organizations can clog systems, increase liability and make identifying critical information assets a challenge. While not an easy undertaking, the rewards from establishing an effective defensible deletion policy include more efficient business processes, improved litigation readiness and reduced risk for your organization.

Analyze and Evolve

Quality IG strategies evolve with a company. Sherpa Altitude IG provides you with the data and visuals needed for you and your organization to make decisions with confidence and support.

If you’re interested in seeing how our information governance platform can help your company build a better information governance program, sign up for a free 15 minute preview of the software. In it we will walk you through the system and answer any questions you may have about its ability to integrate with your company’s infrastructure.

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