Information governance is a set of policies and practices which help an organization understand where its data is stored and how it is managed. We will discuss information governance as it relates to data storage, management, preservation and collection in regards to e-discovery.
In any information governance initiative, the first step is to map where data is stored within an organization. It is crucial to understand all of the available data sources within the organization in order to make informed decisions on its management. This is a daunting process because organizations not only store data in different areas, but on a variety of systems including email systems, shared drives and document management systems.
When all of the data storage has been located, it is important to determine how the data itself is being managed. The more you understand about how the data is created and managed, the easier it will be to make decisions about how to improve the data management process.
It is important to preserve data that is related to a pending, or reasonably anticipated litigation. However, a major challenge for several corporations is how to best preserve data. Another challenge is what technological controls can be put in place to ensure that relevant data is not deleted. This will greatly depend on which technologies are being used to manage the data.
Some systems require that a preservation copy be made to create a snapshot of the data at a specific moment in time. You will then need to consider how to handle the data once a preservation hold is lifted. Also, how to handle the data, when some of it is on a hold and some is not.
The process of acquiring or copying data, usually for the purpose of e-discovery analysis and review, is called data collection. Data can be collected from a preservation copy or directly from the network or storage area. Having a collection approach and methodology is important, so that the approach can be audited and defended in court if necessary.
Information governance is an important step in the e-discovery process which takes place long before documents are reviewed by a legal team. It is the foundation for all future decisions which you will make throughout the e-discovery process.
Developing a sound information governance program will take months, or years, to fully develop and requires a strong working relationship between business decision makers, the legal department and corporate IT departments. A much smoother e-discovery process with better workflow, fewer problems and more effective cost management, are the results of focusing on data storage, management, preservation and collection.