In a previous blog, “Optimising Information Processes Helps Control eDiscovery Costs”, I discussed how eDiscovery costs can account for up to 90 percent of the total litigation cost. And according to a recent global survey, there is plenty of room for improvement:
- 53 percent of respondents agree their legal discovery procedures are “ad hoc, manual, disruptive and expensive.”
- 74 percent rely on manual processes to manage the downstream legal discovery process.
- 28 percent have no policy, process or precedent for legal discovery and legal hold at all.
- 47 percent admit that their email retention and hold policies expose them to risk.1
Most organisations are well aware of the productivity and competitive advantages derived from optimising fundamental information processes. Capturing and digitising information sooner, automating workflows and broader adoption of Smart Process Applications (SPAs) can improve customer service, reduce time-to-market and increase flexibility to meet changing market—and workforce—requirements.
xBut with the complexity and sheer amount of litigation facing most corporations, it’s becoming clear that process optimisation can significantly mitigate ever-rising discovery costs.
Litigation is a fact of life for the modern corporation, and for regional and global organisations, it’s becoming much more common. In a poll conducted in June 2014 of corporate general counsel and compliance officers, 32 percent reported an increase in the number of disputes they faced, and 35 percent of the European executives said their companies are experiencing more cross-border disputes.2
The survey also found that corporate executives and legal departments are looking at different technologies to help them gain control over increasing costs, perhaps as a result of the increasing amount of litigation they face:
Of particular note is that Document Management and eDiscovery/Litigation Support are seen as two of the most important areas for investment—both being areas where process optimisation can play a big role in reducing costs.3
Technology and good information governance
The Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) diagram, a framework used by many legal professionals to determine processes and expectations, was created in 2005 and has been in use ever since. The most recent version, modified in 2014, was changed in order to emphasise the critical role of information governance to good eDiscovery. This includes optimised, foundational information processes.
It is critical in the early stages of eDiscovery to have a comprehensive and clear picture of where potentially relevant Electronically Stored Information (ESI) may reside. At the outset, the data has to be identified, collected and prepared for search and review, a process that may include scanning documents. Technology is a critical and valuable tool.
Yet as we have learned through years of providing business process services to global organisations, technology is only part of the solution.
Optimisation of information processes requires you take a close look at the way information flows through your organisation. For technology to be successfully applied, it must align with your business processes and today’s changing workstyles, like accessing corporate information from mobile platforms or working from home. The criticality of email in litigation is a good example of how a technology needs to be aligned with strong business processes and practices, such as dual-factor authentication and acceptable use policies, for stronger information governance.
Optimising your business processes through digitisation and automation can help you identify critical information quickly and efficiently, helping control eDiscovery costs and boosting productivity. This is particularly important if you are working with databases distributed across geographies and departments, diverse applications, different languages or multiple formats. The more rationalised and integrated your foundational processes are to begin with, the stronger your information governance framework will be –making for more effective and efficient eDiscovery.
Litigation and eDiscovery costs may be rising, but there are opportunities for your organisation to minimise costs. In order to help you optimise processes and achieve stronger information governance, consider partnering with an experienced business services provider. Their knowledge and experience across departments, industries and geographies can help you redesign workflows, improve your digitisation efforts and avoid known pitfalls.
The right partner can also provide the benefits of state-of-the-art technology without the capital investment, allowing you to scale on-demand to meet changing requirements. And assistance coming from outside the organisation can, in many cases, help you overcome organisational resistance to change. In all, the benefits of process optimisation extend far beyond the realm of eDiscovery.
- 1 Miles, Doug, “AIIM Industry Watch: “Search and Discovery – exploiting knowledge, minimising risk”, AIIM, 2014. Online survey of 353 AIIM members from around the world: 67% NA, 18% Europe, 15% rest of world.
- 2Insight: Financial Advisory Services 2014 Litigation and Corporate Compliance Survey, AlixPartners, 2014.
- 3 “The Growing Importance of Legal Technology”, Legaltech News, EyalIffergan, Managing Principal, Hyperion Global Partners, Monday, February 23, 2015.