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Information Governance: Enter the Era of “Pre-Discovery”

JohnPepe on ‎08-26-2014 06:37 AM

Why proactively preparing for discovery using information governance strategies is here to stay and why that’s a good thing.


Tell a room full of lawyers that proactively governing information leads to downstream eDiscovery time and cost savings for them, and you will likely get a lot of blank stares (and probably hear crickets chirping). I mean, Information governance is an “IT thing”, isn’t it? Speaking to this same audience about using pre-discovery methods for regulatory and litigation readiness may get a lot more heads nodding. Regardless of the terms used, proactively preparing for investigations and potential litigation by using information governance techniques is not just the latest vogue topic but rather it is here to stay.


What is “Pre-Discovery"

Pre-Discovery is the use of information governance practices to proactively prepare for investigation and litigation readiness. Experts define information governance (“IG”) as “the activities and technologies that organizations employ to maximize the value of their information while minimizing risks and costs.”


Reasonable people can agree that it is quicker and more cost effective to get all of the information that you need when it is easily accessible from a known location. And even further agree on the premise that keeping only the data that you need, using proper retention schedules, will reduce the amount of information that will have to be collected and reviewed later. Think about how frustrating it would be if, when you are preparing what to wear on a job interview, each article of your clothing was located at 10 different houses. And to make matters worse, you are not sure that you have the keys to those houses. This problem gets exacerbated as your wardrobe grows, your cash flow to maintain all of those houses is drying up, and those job interviews are becoming more frequent while your time to prepare is getting shorter. Reasonable people would say it is time to get your house in order.


By analogy, the explosion of enterprise information, which experts estimate at doubling every 12 to 18 months, shrinking IT budgets, and shortening litigation response timeframes are forcing IT and legal teams to rethink the entire legal response process. The traditional method of responding to litigation and investigations by making the non-lawyer IT folks go out on a data scavenger hunt to collect what may be needed, each time a discovery event occurs, is a broken model. “This is always the way we do it and how the industry does it” mentality, does not mean it is the best way.


What Experts are Saying

Information governance experts would agree that the time is now to pre-discover enterprise information. If “pre-discovery” is here to stay then why aren’t a lot more vendors talking about it, promoting it, and pitching their solutions? The answer is that maybe one or two companies actually have a holistic solution to offer to customers (p.s. HP Autonomy is one of them). I suspect we will hear about this topic a lot more after future industry consolidations.

If not many vendors are leading the pre-discovery charge, then the only ones left to look to see if this trend is for real are the thought leaders who have focused their attention on this topic.


Did anyone notice the subtle change to the Electronic Discover Reference Model (EDRM) this past May?

For those unfamiliar with EDRM, it is a professional organization established to address the lack of standards and guidelines in the e-discovery market. They are famous for the below graphic describing the phases of discovery.



The orange “Information Governance” circle to the far left was not explicitly there prior to May (it was more narrowly defined as “Information Management”). By adding “Information Governance” as an essential gateway to the discovery process, EDRM, which is comprised of “276 organizations, including 179 service and software providers, 69 law firms, three industry groups, one educational institution and 24 corporations involved with e-discovery and information governance” definitely an authoritative group on the subjectis telling the market that it needs to start thinking about discovery and pre-discovery a lot earlier in the process.


Further indications that pre-discovery and information governance is here to stay can be evidenced by the rise in related “think tanks” on the topic. For example, one high-powered organization, the Information Governance Initiative (IGI), recently created a “forum for ideas, facts and techniques…to advance the practice of information governance” because IGI believes organizations need to get their “information under control and to maximize its value.” IGI’s recently released 2014 Annual Report, called the industry’s first ever comprehensive analysis of the Information Governance (IG) industry, is full of industry best practices for advancing what we are calling “pre-discovery”. Key takeaways from the IGI Annual Report can be viewed on our blog.


Why Pre-Discovery is Here to Stay 

Now that the era of pre-discovery is here, why will it stay?


The simple answer is because it works.


There are numerous advantages to an information governance approach for regulatory and litigation preparedness. We will dive deeper into how to perform pre-discovery in a future blog post, but the common techniques and advantages are:

  • Consolidating data repositories into centralized archives or records management systems to give organizations the ability to discover, preserve, and collect information in a quicker and more cost effective manner.
  • Utilizing human understanding to automatically classify data for de-duplication and placement into the proper repository with the appropriate retention schedule.
  • Defensively disposing of data, and pre-consolidating information for more efficient and secure access to achieve time and cost savings by placing less data on hold which leads to reduced collections and review.

Still Not Convinced?

Information Governance experts like IGI mentioned above, recognize that only a small percentage of organizations have fully embraced proactive information governance practices. HP Autonomy believes that the cause for the low adoption is market awareness on how to ‘do’ information governance and pre-discovery; which includes where to start and what tools to use.


It is, admittedly, an almost paralyzing task to rethink and revamp an entire organization’s approach to managing information. To take the lead on the information governance initiative, IGI predicts that a new role will be established in organizations called the Chief Information Governance Officer (CIGO) who “provides a coordinating function with delegated authority for specific information activities at an organization, balances stakeholder interests from each facet of IG and develops an operational model for the organization.”


Until there is wider adoption of this role, which IGI estimates currently at only 28%, contact HP Autonomy’s Information Governance and eDiscovery experts to learn how pre-discovery can proactively prepare organizations for investigations and litigation.




Read more from our InfoGov and eDiscovery experts:

Information Governance: Key Takeaways from Information Governance Initiative’s 2014 Annual Report by David Brown

Information Governance: The Essentials of Cloud-based Archiving - Streamlined Data Access by Luis Romero
Information Governance: Looking Beneath the Surface: The Hidden Cost of Managing Legacy Data by Joe Garber

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About the Author


Delivering subject matter expertise in the area of financial services compliance and product marketing for HP’s eDiscovery and Supervision/Surveillance products. John has been a legal and compliance professional in the financial services industry for over 12 years. Prior to joining HP Autonomy, John was a compliance officer, auditor, and consultant for major banks, broker-dealers, investment banks, hedge funds, and asset management firms.

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