A "Critical" eDiscovery Love Connection

Not since Ernie and Bert, Felix and Oscar, Fred and Barney, or perhaps even Sarah Palin and Tina Fey have two less similar entities been fused together as intensely as IT and legal departments. And the matchmaker that has brought them together? Not some puppet-master, Hollywood hit-maker, animator’s pencil, or national political campaign and related satirical send-off.

Instead, it’s that wacky, love connecting force known far and wide as eDiscovery.

Now, like many new friendships or even (dare we suggest) romances, there are some growing pains here. To put things in the gentlest possible terms, while IT and legal departments do not openly call for the total annihilation of the other, they would be quite happy if the other were to, say, be asked to colonize another planet. Somewhere far, far away. Where the skies rain acid and the ground has a bad habit swallowing people.

So, like we said, there are some growing pains.

However, if firms want to make it through the eDiscovery minefield unscathed (or just plain solvent), they’d be wise to light some candles, go heavy on the incense, and get some Barry White going on the elevator music channel, because IT and legal need to fall in love – okay, they need to work together – for the betterment of all.

So how can we make a love connection? Below are five “Critical Success Factors” courtesy of Christine Taylor an Analyst with the Taneja Group, via www.enterprisestorageforum.com. Following these will help the relationship grow in the right direction:

Critical Success Factor #1: Integration. Law departments must work with IT to ensure that any eDiscovery solution integrates with existing IT infrastructure – both hardware and software. This is just as valid a point if companies (rather wisely) outsource their eDiscovery function, since there still has to be internal support to make the system work.

Critical Success Factor #2: Simplicity. Ah, yes. The good old fashioned KISS principle, and the slightly older habit of some folks from both the legal and IT world who claim to live by this principle, yet delight in overcomplicating things (intoned any good “wheretofores,” lately? Or do you utter the word terabyte more than the word hello?). Simplicity in eDiscovery is not helpful. It’s critical — hence, it gets its very own success factor. We’re not suggesting a child should be able to use it, but if you need an advanced degree to use the eDiscovery interface, then something has gone very, very wrong.

Critical Success Factor #3: Cost-effectiveness. If IT people and legal people can come together an unite against a common enemy, it’s that evil group of folks – the accountants, the financial specialists, the number crunchers – who wag a finger when it comes to buying shiny new things. However, when it comes to eDiscovery, those wagging fingers should be heeded. Throwing money at an eDiscovery solution is simply that: throwing money. Don’t assume that expensive = better. Find out the ROI and evaluate objectively.

Critical Success Factor #4: Scalability. An eDiscovery solution that isn’t scaleable is not an eDiscovery solution; it’s an eDiscovery crisis waiting to happen. Oh sure, it may work for a while, but lurking beneath the peace will be a problem that will make everyone look at each other in horror and say: why didn’t we get something scaleable? And there will be a great weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Critical Success Factor #5: Security. Now here’s a nice one that both camps can support: security. Of course, IT and legal approach security differently, and have different terms of reference. Secure to IT is not the same as secure in a court of law. However, that’s changing because, as you’ve no doubt grasped (or been forced to grapple with), IT and law are coming together through eDiscovery. So the point here is, simply, to make sure that security is considered from both an IT and legal perspective.

So there you have it. Five factors that can lead to…well, okay, if not love, then peaceful, mutual co-existence. That’s good enough for now!

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