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Why information governance drives good records management

Trends including mobility, cloud and consumerization have redefined records management and brought information governance to the fore.

Processes like e-discovery are time-consuming and costly. Paying lawyers $500 an hour to retrieve documents rather than build your company's defenses is a poor use of time and money.

A proactive records management strategy that makes information governance central is key to helping companies dodge the bullet of costly litigation and to laying the foundation for real information management.

Leigh Isaacs, director of records management and information governance at law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and a speaker at the ARMA Live conference, sat down with SearchContentManagement to discuss tactics like companies using predictive coding so they can retrieve more relevant information during searches and reduce the time and money they spend sifting through documents that are a poor match. Isaacs also discussed some of the disruptive trends, such as cloud computing and mobility, that are redefining the records management discipline.

How do you get executive-level buy-in for information governance?

Leigh IsaacsLeigh Isaacs

Leigh Isaacs: Many executives don't understand the importance and benefits of it. To get buy-in for any sort of a program can be challenging when there is a desire to put resources toward cool, sexy things. So, you have to look for low-hanging fruit.

Records managers can talk to their IT department, for example, about putting together a query on suspicious activity on repositories. They can then look at the report and see that a person has emailed 500 documents out of the document management system. Many companies will find a lot of client materials and firm intellectual-property materials that are potentially walking out the door. And when a records manager shows this kind of report to management, they understand [the importance of information governance]. It helps to build the momentum in making the case.

Tell me about predictive coding for information governance.

Isaacs: Predictive coding has been used … for e-discovery for years, but it's an emerging trend for information governance. [Predictive coding teaches software to "learn" companies' content classifications, metadata and other identifiers, and uses search, filtering and data sampling to find relevant enterprise content and information.] Approval from a variety of courts continues to spread, giving the Good Housekeeping seal from the e-discovery standpoint. The wheels started to turn for many of us in the industry [that it makes sense for proactive information governance as well], where the basic principles are the same. We need to find information, classify information and make decisions about information.

Predictive coding can do a few things. One, relying on people to classify their information and file it properly, is a shot in the dark. It makes it hard to have organizational collaboration [with multiple global departments able to work on common documents].

Two, when you're leveraging information effectively, that adds to organizational efficiencies in the way that people work. It used to take a week to 10 days to sort through this kind of information to perform a disposition. We told the tool what we wanted it to look for, what we wanted to exclude. And we took that process from up to 10 days down to two to four hours. It can decrease a lot of the time and expense involved in going through these things manually.

People want technologies to make the process auto-magical. But it takes human effort on the front end to go in and train the system. As the [software] makes some educated guesses, the human effort validates or says "OK, you got six out of 10," and then the system starts to learn, as you have that human intervention. The human trains it to know what it's looking for.

You've talked about the importance of collaboration. How does that play into governance?

For more on records management:

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Overcoming challenges of records management

Isaacs: We have teams that are working on legal engagements in multiple offices across the globe. We can have teams in San Francisco, New York, London, and jumping into the same thing. Those folks need to be able to get access to information in real time, edit it and stay up to date on the most recent version. They need to turn on their computer and jump right in and know that they are looking at and seeing the same thing. Even though many of us live in Outlook, [it's] is not the way to most effectively collaborate.

At the end of the day, our company is not in the business of managing information. The lawyers and the case teams here just need what they need to support clients. They shouldn't have to spend a lot of time on information management and governance. That's why it's important to build that infrastructure and be selective in what technologies are chosen.

How are trends like cloud computing and mobility changing records management?

Isaacs: Cloud computing, the consumerization of IT and mobility are definitely driving change in the industry. [Companies used to rely on] CIOs and the IT group, among other things, ... to make sure that the trains ran on time and the lights came on. Now that's shifting, as we're going to look at cloud computing, 24/7 access and ease of sharing. As we rely more on third parties to keep us running operationally, what does that mean?

For folks that have come from the traditional records management side, it is a huge shift. We're used to having defined rules, checklists, and having things be very well-documented. Now we're working in this ambiguous gray area. It's challenging the culture, the skill set of those who have the expertise but have to look at their role in a whole different way. Some are trying to translate their skill into something that can add value.

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