Gone are the days of producing ten relevant folders in hard copy form, that hold all of the required information. Today we live in a data driven society.
Organisations are having to manage and store exponentially increasing volumes of data from a seemingly limitless number of applications and devices. Agile work practices, spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, have also resulted in rocketing use of mobile devices, cloud computing, collaborative platforms and messaging applications – all additional data sources that could fall under discovery obligations.
This puts a spotlight on the need for proactive information governance to ensure an organisation’s litigation readiness. It is crucial to have a clear understanding of how and where data is stored and how it can be collected and reviewed. It is also necessary to identify data that no longer needs to be retained and to dispose of this in a legally defensible way. Without the right policies, processes and technology in place to achieve this, an organisation will likely struggle if faced with litigation.
Recent Royal Commissions have brought this into focus, with widespread reporting around the issues some organisations have faced collecting and reviewing large amounts of data within a given time frame. This highlights the fact that many organisations (particularly those that have not previously been involved in litigation) are still not managing their data in a way that enables them to respond in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Knowing where all incidences of data are stored and having robust policies and processes in place to manage data workflows simplifies the task of locating and producing relevant information. All required data sources and custodians can be easily identified and retrieved, avoiding the need for additional data collections. The volume of data collected is also reduced.
However, being litigation ready is often easier said than done. Information governance policies and procedures need to cover a wider range of data sources than ever before. In addition to the use of mobile devices, organisations are moving more towards cloud-based SaaS applications and widespread use of collaboration platforms and messaging applications. These changes raise important issues over data privacy, storage and retention policies. There are also additional data types to consider, with many collaboration platforms and messaging applications now commonly storing audio and video files.
It can prove challenging to put forward a business case for achieving litigation readiness unless there has been a previous compliance fine, sanction or legal loss. However, when it comes to litigation, there is a need to get it right the first time. Organisations must focus on being proactive and preparing for litigation that may happen in the future. In addition to being litigation ready, compliance with information governance policies and procedures can provide valuable data insights into the way an organisation operates, providing further opportunities to improve efficiency and reduce costs.
Our consultants are receiving more questions relating to information governance and data storage policies than ever before. On countless occasions, clients have said “If we'd just done this earlier, this entire process would have been a lot simpler and a lot quicker”.
For more information on information governance, data storage policies and how to be litigation ready, contact us today or call 1300 004 667.