eDiscovery is a massively disruptive event, and companies can be forgiven for wishing to outsource it. IT departments in particular get a raw deal: a lot of the burden of eDiscovery falls on their shoulders, but they are not in charge of the process.
Outsourcing suits IT because it means their involvement is limited to transferring the unstructured data to the systems of the eDiscovery service provider – a cumbersome and time-consuming task, but one without the legal pitfalls and complexities of legal hold and document review. On the whole, outsourcing leaves IT to get on with its mission-critical day-to-day tasks.
But the cost of outsourcing is becoming prohibitive and companies are using IT tools to bring parts of the eDiscovery process back in-house. Suddenly, IT are back in the game – although not in a very comfortable position. An IT tool to de-duplicate documents saves a lot of time and is very welcome. The more advanced software solutions to make formats that are not natively searchable (TIF, PDF, BMP, PBG), or complex composite formats such as PST and ZIP, searchable for the purposes of document review are also great. But there’s a snag: all those wonderful IT tools have to be integrated, and it’s IT who gets to do that.
We shall leave to one side for the moment the question of how reliable and effective these tools are – some are, some not so much. The real problem is the fragmentation of the process. It needs time, technological and legal skills to bring the point-to-point solutions together as part of a cohesive workflow. In fact, a workflow is exactly what is missing in this piecemeal approach.
Of course IT wants to be responsible for what pertains to IT, but a disparate set of tools, this jigsaw way of doing eDiscovery, exposes the department to unfair risks. With all the toing and froing between processes and systems, something will go wrong sooner or later – the cracks will show.
In response to this, IT leaders are increasingly urging their organizations to invest in an end-to-end eDiscovery solution. Not because they want an easy life (and in the case of a eDiscovery SaaS solution, it would be a very easy life indeed), but because it is in the best interest of the organization.
Good eDiscovery solutions can do what all the IT tools do, but at a much higher level of sophistication and raw speed. And there is plenty that the tools can’t do. There are no IT tools with the machine-learning functionalities that are at the heart of the Assisted Review, or TAR. The IT tools hack off large parts of the unstructured data, but nowhere like the 90%-plus that is typical of a modern eDiscovery solution. And crucially, a centralized eDiscovery platform will bring all these processes together in a holistic, tried and tested workflow.
And if you go the SaaS route, the IT infrastructure of the organization is not impacted at all.
IT may not say this out loud, but one other massive advantage of an eDiscovery solution is their user-friendliness. Co-workers from legal can no longer protest they are ‘no good at computers’. If you can handle Microsoft Office, you can use a modern eDiscovery solution.
There is no need to convince IT of the power of technology. IT instinctively agrees with Agent Smith from The Matrix that you should never let a human do the job of a machine. The job of IT is to reassure the organization that modern eDiscovery solutions are safe, reliable, highly effective – and much more than the sum of its parts. Just the opposite of IT tools, in fact.