The Importance of Interoperability to Streamline eDiscovery Workflows

23 March 2023 by KLD Team

USB cords interoperability metaphor.

The Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) was created in 2005. Having since become synonymous with the eDiscovery life cycle, the nine phases of the EDRM are the standard for how eDiscovery is conducted.

The Evolution of eDiscovery Data Sources

How the nine phases of the EDRM are conducted has changed considerably over the years. In 2005, data sources were located mostly on-premise – primarily within Microsoft Office apps on desktops and servers within an organisation’s offices – and eDiscovery was more of a manual, step-by-step process. eDiscovery teams had to identify custodians of electronically stored information (ESI) that might be responsive to the case, then they would typically conduct a custodian corpus-level collection to preserve a copy of each custodian’s data. Because many eDiscovery teams preserved ESI by collecting it, the EDRM model shows the Preserve and Collect phases on the same line.

Once the data was collected, it then had to be processed. Processing included some culling of the data, but it also included conversion of the data into a form more suitable for analysis and review using a processing platform. Only once the data was processed could it be loaded into an eDiscovery platform for analysis and review. The entire process to get the data ready for analysis and review was highly manual and time consuming, which meant it was expensive.

Today, data sources are much more likely to come from enterprise solutions in the cloud which can be accessed from anywhere. As teams have shifted to more remote work and collaboration, enterprise solutions have shifted to support those needs.

As a result, organisations today are using Office 365 and Google G-Suite in the cloud to manage email communications and create work product through office apps. Colleagues are communicating and collaborating more in the cloud through platforms like Slack and Teams to share their work product and coordinate activities. They are storing key data in repositories including SharePoint, OneDrive, and Box – often located in Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Interoperability to Streamline eDiscovery Workflows

Interoperability is the ability of computer systems or software to exchange and make use of information. With so much data easily accessible within the cloud, the potential to collect, archive, process, and review data from multiple sources – automatically – has never been greater.

And that automation starts at the beginning of the EDRM lifecycle with archival at the Information Governance phase. From an InfoGov standpoint, that involves building defensible deletion and preservation controls into the process, allowing your organisation to capture and manage important data without the risk of keeping redundant, outdated, or trivial (ROT) data. This not only leads to reduced costs, but reduced risks as well.

Automation continues into the Collection and Processing phases through a comprehensive set of source data connectors to the places where discoverable enterprise data exists – in Office 365 and Google G-Suite, Slack and Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive, and Box. Interoperability between your eDiscovery solution and the critical sources of data within your organisation leads to streamlining your eDiscovery workflows.

Aligning the eDiscovery Lifecycle with the Data Lifecycle

In the EDRM model, Information Governance is different from the other phases. It is the only one that is a circle, which illustrates that it is perpetual, and it even has its own reference model – the Information Governance Reference Model (IGRM).

The IGRM has its own lifecycle – the data lifecycle, a superset of the eDiscovery lifecycle. The data lifecycle begins with data creation and extends through the eDiscovery lifecycle to production and presentation in a legal matter and ultimately to data destruction.

While the EDRM model looks the same as it did back in 2005, interoperability between enterprise data sources and your eDiscovery solution not only makes the EDRM phases much more cohesive, it streamlines the eDiscovery lifecycle and the data lifecycle overall.

Learn about KLDscovery’s Nebula Ecosystem and how it supports your eDiscovery and Information Governance needs.