Rock Solid — The Importance of Managed Document Review with Office 365

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Effectively managing data across enterprise applications, while also leveraging that governance for a leg up ahead of eDiscovery exercises, has vexed organizations of all sizes and stripes for quite some time. But with Office 365, organizations now have a cost-conscious solution with armaments on both fronts: a single, cloud-based data depository for enhanced data governance, and a bevy of eDiscovery solutions tools, including in-place preservation, deep-dive search functions across mail boxes and Share Point sites, and more advanced clustering and predictive coding functionality as part of the E5 license. But even with these O365 tools in hand, there’s a fair argument that the most litigation-ready organizations will nonetheless remain deeply rooted in eDiscovery best practices and processes, in particular with regard to managed document review.

Without question, improvements, tools and technology inherent in Office 365 will streamline eDiscovery practices, and offer the potential for significant cost savings as a part of that. But the old adage is that eDiscovery is a game of people, process and technology, and that third pillar crumbles to dust without the balance of the first two. Reducing data sets and ensuring focused collections is key, but inevitably an eDiscovery exercise will turn to the review of documents. And with unsophisticated review processes in place, the entire regulatory response or pre-trial discovery effort could take a rocky turn.

This is where the people and process come in, as a comprehensive managed review approach will effectively incorporate both. Key for the success of managed review is a staffing and recruitment process that sifts for the best possible review teams, team leads and project managers. Strong review teams and effective project managers will drive targeted quality control, confidently oversee timeline and budget requirements, and provide for enhanced collaboration with corporate legal teams and outside counsel. In terms of process, managed review relies on a tailored workflow design and implementation, as well as the repeated application of well-tested, chiselled best practices throughout review execution. In addition, customized reporting that fits the specific matter and the needs of counsel, a staple of the best managed review processes, will be a game-changer in nearly every case.

O365’s eDiscovery toolbox offers a great foundation for preserving and collecting data with an eye toward litigation or investigatory response. But the effective navigation from there by an experienced managed review team can ensure continued time and cost savings going forward, and that team is, without a doubt, critical to the success of the entire eDiscovery exercise.

In the migration to Office 365, the advancements and advantages for most organizations will be readily apparent. But if the aim is to save organizations both time and money, it’s imperative that people, process and technology be key components across the EDRM; no matter what enterprise applications or data governance approaches an organization might seek to implement. To that end, the importance of maintaining rock solid managed review approaches cannot be overstated. Comprehensive project management, effective collaboration with counsel, and defensible review all require that the right managed review processes and techniques are put in place. It will make all the difference, and is the accompaniment to O365 any successful organization will need.

Written by Ryan T. Costello, Esq., CIPP/E, Operations Manager, eTERA Consulting in Europe. Ryan can be reached at

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