By Nancy Patton
My recommended action in my last post was for the Legal E-Discovery Expert to go make friends with the IT E-Discovery Manager or Specialist in order to better understand where the data is throughout the organization. If you have not already done that, please make that a priority this week. This is critical, and here is why.
When we think about the people who are involved in the task of identifying, assessing, collecting, reviewing and producing data (we'll call this “data management"), there's someone from Legal, someone from IT who has an e-Discovery focus, and perhaps also someone from IT who has a Forensics focus. Recently, I've been working closely with two prospective clients who are interested in a technology solution for their legal hold and data management activities. Their success (or failure) is going to be based largely in the strength of the professional relationships among these cross-functional teams.
One of these companies is highly disorganized. Forensics is off contemplating one solution, Legal has purchased something for legal hold management and isn't really sure they want it anymore, and the IT e-Discovery specialists are having a separate conversation about their wants and needs. This is resulting in chaos for all cross-functional teams and ultimately bad decisions will ensue. Legal is already second guessing their choice because upon some later discussion with IT, they've realized their legal hold software purchase (from someone other than Exterro!) may not adequately fill their needs. So this may become a waste of monetary and personnel resources. Everyone is kind of on their own, hoping to find something that meets their individual needs, which is likely to lead to no one being very happy. Their purchasing decisions is continuously stalled and they have recently been sanctioned for their inability to produce requested data.
Contrast this to another company I am working with that is much more unified. They have all stakeholders (Legal, IT e-Discovery, IT Forensics) in the conversation and contributing to the use cases. All stakeholders are simultaneously participating in the evaluation of all parts of the technology solution, not just the part they will be using the most. They are keenly aware that no single solution is going to meet EVERY requirement, but they also recognize that if they work as a team, they will achieve an outcome that makes sense cross-functionality. They are not creating chaos and they are making good decisions. Ultimately, this will save them time and money.
As I work with both of these organizations, I marvel at the difference. Both are well-known, leading organizations in their respective industries. Both have complex business problems that need solving. One is floundering, the other is thriving.
This is precisely why it is so critical for Legal, IT e-Discovery and IT Forensics to be talking to each other, working together, and learning from each other. Focusing on the “Who" is a critical first step in setting your e-Discovery foundation to assure great outcomes.
If you don't know how to begin building a solid cross-functional team, I suggest consulting your HR Manager or other trusted leader in your organization. You'd be surprised at how willing people are to help with ideas and strategy. If you're ready to do your part to bridge the gap, then call a lunch meeting with the other e-Discovery resources and order some pizza. People love free food! Start the conversation casually … what are their pain points? What keeps them up at night? What do they love about their job? What are their struggles? If you don't really know the other people very well, be willing to share first. Pretty soon the conversation will unravel with ease.
And then keep it going. Stop by their desk and check in. In no time, you'll have a unified plan to meet the challenges head on!
To learn more on how to work effectively with IT, download this "E-Discovery Process Optimization Checklist" which gives some helpful tips for collaborating and communicating with IT.