Your company has been notified of an impending lawsuit or audit; and you need to quickly disclose a specific set of historical electronic data. How confident are you that you can comply?
Many underestimate the significant challenge of the proliferation and exponential growth in the amount of information generated by an organization. E ‐ Mail, instant messages, documents, databases and voicemail are all areas where information management and legal discovery can be issues.
A common misconception is that compliance is merely a matter of producing the past data backup tapes. Additional complexity comes from being able to actually access the data stored on your data backup medium. Hardware and software obsolescence can also create significant headaches. Accessing your data could be the equivalent of trying to access a specific song from an 8 track tape in an iPod world.
Technology obsolescence is only part of the challenge. Understanding the requirements, effectively implementing solutions to address the requirements, adapting to changes as they occur and ultimately affecting organizational behavior are all issues at hand. In order to properly address the issues, there needs to be multi ‐ departmental collaboration to address the challenge. Information Technology, compliance officers, legal, audit teams, records managers and executive leadership all have to work together to define and implement data retention solutions.
Based on our experience in this area, implementing a strategy is best handled in a multi ‐ phased scenario. Our suggestion is to move carefully, and choose scalable solutions that afford flexible growth. While we can provide more in depth expertise for specific situations, a couple of common best practices include:
- Begin developing your strategy with an information audit and policy creation
- Implement solutions that can cross and support all areas of need
- Continually audit and process improve whatever solution you put in place.
With a well thought out strategy and the proper solution in place, the thought of an impending lawsuit or audit will not paralyze your organization but empower it.