In today’s technology-driven world, many tasks have become automated.  From electronic bill payments to monitoring home surveillance and online shopping, automated processes have made our lives more efficient and allow us to spend time on other tasks.  When it comes to policy management though, is it better to automate the processes or continue to do them manually?

Policy Management

All companies should have rules in place to ensure that business operations are followed according to corporate or regulatory standards.  These rules are detailed and deployed into the company by policies.  Enforcement and monitoring of these policies is needed for organizations to effectively manage large volumes of electronically stored information (ESI) while identifying gaps in processes that may result in non-compliance.  This includes an understanding of the breadth and depth of data stores, relevant preservation policies, accessibility of archive locations, search methodologies and defensible deletion procedures.  All are needed to properly manage this data in the eyes of the government and courts without sacrificing business efficiencies.

Active policies enable companies to manage data, detect violations, and take appropriate actions.  In order for these policies to be effective, they need to be evaluated periodically to ensure that they are still valid.  A well written policy should be flexible with details outlined in the guidelines and procedures.  However, these overall policies should not be rewritten every time a lower level process or procedural change is made. For example, if a company policy dictates a six month email retention, upgrading your email server should not require a modification in the policy, just a change in the processes to accommodate the new equipment or software.

Policy Automation

Policy management can be handled manually or through automation.  The manual route can be tedious and take a great deal of time.  Running deletion queries by hand, for example, tracking litigation hold notifications via spreadsheet, or performing eDiscovery searches with native tools can take up significant resources often with less than defensible processes, less than accurate reporting and less than optimal results.  Automated systems, like Altitude IG, use software to enforce policies and reduce human error.  The efficiency gains are especially noticeable in long, detailed, multi-step processes.  Software ensures that tasks are completed on time in a manner that can be controlled and measured.   Additionally, automated actions are recorded and documented for auditing purposes.

There is a cost associated with automated systems.  Determining if automation is the right choice in your environment depends on how many resources are being spent managing your current policies and what cost savings would be realized in implementing automation.  Automating tasks enables you to maximize your most valuable asset, which is time, while reducing risk and costs associated with day-to-day responsibilities.  In short, automation gives you the power to focus your energy and efforts on activities that add value to your business.

Sherpa Software’s signature eDiscovery and information governance solution,  Altitude IG, contains a Policy Management module to utilize a company’s established practices, procedures and business processes to electronically automate compliance, legal, human resources, records management, and IT policies. It provides policy enforcement and defensible deletion, which in turn helps to manage information across the enterprise and ensure that rigorous data management is at the core of all legal response requirements.

Sherpa Altitude IG Policy Management is different from other platforms through the following features:

  • Connects to more data sources than traditional information governance software platforms
  • Leaves your data behind the firewall allowing you to manage your data in place
  • Configures quickly and easily, including customizable user roles by department or function
  • Offers robust standard reporting and mobile dashboards

In the end, we must all decide if automation makes our lives and our jobs easier or just adds an additional cost. Is it better to automate your policies or continue to handle them manually?  The savings, efficiency and cost benefits will help you effectively manage your corporate, legal and regulatory compliance requirements across your entire organization. Seems to me, the choice is obvious.

If you’d like to learn more, please contact a Sherpa representative at or 1.800.255.5155.