Written by Doug Austin, Editor of eDiscovery Today
If you’ve read my posts in the past, you’re probably aware that one of my pet peeves in the industry is “marketing speak” that is used a lot, but doesn’t necessarily have any real meaning.
One of the most overused terms in eDiscovery is the term “end-to-end” eDiscovery. Many sales and marketing people in the industry will tell you (proudly, and with conviction, I might add) that “we provide an end-to-end eDiscovery solution!”
But do they really? I mean, REALLY?!?
For many years, when providers said they provided “end-to-end” eDiscovery, what they really meant (in terms of the EDRM model, where the ends were defined) was from Preservation and Collection through Production. But the Preservation and Collection part really meant that they generally provided a mechanism for users to upload data into the solution (thereby performing a level of collection which also preserves a copy of the data during collection). They didn’t provide legal hold management or forensic collection; it was just a “point and click” mechanism to push files up into the platform to be processed for review and then (if designed as responsive and not privileged), produced to opposing counsel.
So, the first “end” for many of these platforms was the preservation and collection phases (sort of); the second “end” for many of these platforms was the production phase.
However, last I checked, the EDRM model doesn’t begin with Preservation and Collection. It doesn’t even begin with Identification (which many providers don’t even fully take into consideration). And it doesn’t end with Production. The true beginning of the EDRM model is the Information Governance phase and the true end of it is the Presentation phase.
These two phases are often forgotten when sales and marketing people speak of “end-to-end” discovery. Let’s take a look at each of them in turn.
Information Governance (or InfoGov) is not only a separate phase – it’s the only phrase that has warranted and inspired its own EDRM model, the Information Governance Reference Model (IGRM), which is probably the second most famous EDRM model (behind the EDRM model itself).
InfoGov is also the only phase that is represented as a circle in the EDRM model. Why? Because it is perpetual and not initiated by a “trigger event”, such as a litigation case being filed, an audit being scheduled or an investigation being launched. With larger and more diverse volumes of data to support and more regulatory requirements for how that data is managed and protected, InfoGov is the phase that every organization has requirements to support. Not every organization has routine litigation to address, but every organization has personal data to protect, regulatory requirements to follow, etc.
InfoGov is also organization-wide, as evidenced by my blog series last year regarding the IGRM model, involving Legal, Records and Information Management (RIM), Information Technology (IT), Privacy and Security and Business stakeholder groups. It’s truly an enterprise-wide initiative, regardless of what’s going on downstream.
Many providers that claim to be “end-to-end” are (at best) supporting the InfoGov phase through a partnership. Most are not supporting it at all. This is why InfoGov is one of the forgotten ends.
What is the goal of litigation? Is it to produce thousands and thousands of documents and hundreds of gigabytes of data to the other side to meet a court-ordered obligation? Or is it to identify the key evidence that leads to the best outcome for your case?
I’m sure you’re thinking “is this a trick question?”, but it’s not. Obviously, it’s identifying the key evidence and then using it effectively to achieve that best outcome.
But you can’t do that without presenting that evidence. Regardless of whether it’s a key document, an audio or video clip or anything else, effective presentation of the evidence is key to either winning the case, achieving a dismissal (if you’re a defendant, of course), or achieving a favorable settlement.
The ability to present that key evidence effectively – in depositions, hearings, and at trial – is key to maximizing the value of that evidence and achieving that best outcome. But many providers stop at the Production phase as the “end” that they support.
It’s like putting you in the middle of the forest and saying: “OK, you have a tent, a warm coat, a compass, and rations, find your way home from here!”
Not very helpful, huh? Presentation is the other, probably even more, forgotten “end” in the “end-to-end” discussion.
Should We Even Call it “End-To-End”?
True “end-to-end” is the ability to provide solutions that support clients from Information Governance through Presentation – that’s why the EDRM model represents all those phases as the EDRM life cycle.
Anything short of that is not truly “end-to-end”, regardless of any “marketing speak” you hear.
Without Information Governance and Presentation support, no solution is truly “end-to-end” because those are the beginning and end of the life cycle. In fact, perhaps the term “end-to-end” isn’t even the appropriate term to use here.
Perhaps the term “beginning-to-end” is more appropriate! Forget “end-to-end”, “beginning-to-end” eDiscovery is support from Information Governance through Presentation. That’s what you really want!
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