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5 Tips for handling complex data formats

When performing to a discovery request, you want it to go as smoothly as possible. However, the existence of complex data formats can often slow the process and create complications when none is needed. So what are complex data formats? These can include audio files, schematics and graphs, databases, and foreign languages.

When dealing with these types of data formats, the 80/20 rule applies. Meaning that they make up 20% of your data files, but consume 80% of your budget and time. And it’s usually not until you get to the end of the exception process that you realize that you need to analyze the data.

Here’s a checklist of items to take into consideration when dealing with difficult data formats:

  • Responsive or relevant  Determine if the data contains relevant information. This can be done with sampling and will help to reduce the scope and the costs.
  • Reasonable accessible or not proportional  In order to negotiate away the data format, you need to know what you have. Is the information “not reasonably accessible” or “not proportional”? If you cannot handle the data format within normal business processes, then it’s consider a difficult data format.
  • Legacy – Are these documents legacy documents? Often legacy documents exist in paper format. How are you going to access them, review and then produce them for opposing counsel?
  • Review – Will they be reviewed with the rest of files or separately? Can they be integrated into your normal review process or will they review a separate review due to the nature of the documents? This will require more time and resources which must be taken into consideration and built in the process in order to meet the deadline.
  • Production – How will you produce these difficult data format for opposing counsel? Can you produce the schematics and graphics in native format? What about audio files and the metadata associated with them? Is your solution going to be able to extract the metadata from audio files which is usually located in a separate file?

Our technology driven climate has made data more varied and complex causing challenges for the ediscovery process. However, having a plan in place that includes how you will deal with complex data files can help to alleviate the stress when you are under a tight deadline.