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Organizational Self-Assessment: Technology Factors

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

This is Part 6 of a multi-part series discussing insourcing and outsourcing of eDiscovery functions.  Part 1 is available here, Part 2 is available here, Part 3 is available here, Part 4 is available here, and Part 5 is available here.  Advanced Discovery also recently broadcast a live webinar on this topic, featuring me and my colleague Tom O’Connor, and a recording of the program can be viewed by registering here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2825368125753789186.


 

In Part 5, we reviewed the key legal factors that must be considered as part of an organizational self-assessment of eDiscovery needs and solutions.  In this Part, we turn our attention to the second of the four categories of key factors for organizational self-assessment: technology factors.

Technology factors, in this context, refers to an organization’s overall technology resources, sophistication, and comfort level.  The specifics of this will vary widely from organization to organization, and are the second most important set of factors for determining eDiscovery needs and assessing the suitability of potential solutions for your organization.  Like legal factors, technology factors are assessed through a combination of interviews with relevant stakeholders (e.g., IT/IS, Compliance/Regulatory, Current Service Providers) and reviews of records, in this case financial records, lease/license records, security audits, etc.

Hardware

Hardware in the discovery context can refer to: discovery-specific specialty tools (e.g., forensic collection kits); self-contained discovery “appliances” (e.g., a Clearwell or Nuix plug-and-play box); or, general servers and networked storage sufficient to support document processing or review software platforms (e.g., kCura’s Relativity) and the large databases involved in using them.

If your organization has already invested in one or more of these, you will be evaluating:

  • Whether the current hardware meets current needs
  • Whether/for how long it will continue to meet projected future needs
  • Whether support of this hardware overlaps efficiently or problematically with core hardware functions of the implicated department(s) (e.g., IT/IS, Compliance, etc.)

If your organization has not yet invested in relevant hardware, you will be evaluating:

  • What hardware would be required to meet current needs
  • What the expected useful lifetime of that hardware would be
  • What capacity in what departments would be required for support

Software

Software in the discovery context can refer to enterprise collection tools (e.g., EnCase Enterprise), processing and imaging systems (e.g., Ipro eCapture), or early case assessment and document review platforms (e.g., kCura’s Relativity).  In almost all variations, these are large, complex, and expensive applications with significant underlying hardware requirements.

Thus, if you’re an organization with substantial IT resources and a high comfort level with enterprise software deployments, you may have the needed capacity already, and adding key discovery applications internally may be an easy, rational choice.

But, if you’re an organization with a lean or outsourced IT function, an organization for which new enterprise software deployment is distant from core competencies, then insourcing discovery applications would pose significant challenges.

Other Factors

Whether you are considering hardware acquisitions, software acquisitions, or both, it is important to account for the associated and ongoing requirements that come with your intended uses.  Any new systems acquired and deployed will carry facilities requirements, physical and virtual security requirements, allowance for future scalability, and sufficient internal and external bandwidth to support planned usage levels.

Moreover, many eDiscovery systems carry significant support and up-time requirements to be used as intended.  For example, achieving needed processing speed often requires around-the-clock operation and support monitoring, as can intensive document reviews.  Large document reviews can also require management and support of hundreds of users spread across multiple time zones and locations.

These peaking-capacity challenges and support obligations are among the primary reasons that corporations tend to focus on insourcing collection tools and outsourcing review platforms, as discussed earlier in this series.

Upcoming in This Series

In the next Part, we will discuss the third of the four categories of key factors for organizational self-assessment: financial factors.  In the remaining entries in this series, we will discuss human resources factors and the key takeaways from this series.

MATTHEW VERGA, JD
VP, Marketing Content
Advanced Discovery

Matthew Verga is an electronic discovery expert proficient at leveraging his legal experience as an attorney, his technical knowledge as a practitioner, and his skills as a communicator to make complex eDiscovery topics accessible.  A nine-year industry veteran, Matthew has worked across every phase of the EDRM and at every level from the project trenches to enterprise program design.  As VP, Marketing Content, for Advanced Discovery, he leverages this background to produce engaging educational content to empower practitioners at all levels with knowledge they can use to improve their projects, their careers, and their organizations.

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