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Protect your business with an electronic data management system

If you are reading this article your Organization is probably considering purchasing or implementing an electronic data management system. First off kudos to you for not only doing some research, but for deciding to focus on systems for managing your electronic data. The benefits you will receive from implementing an Electronic Data management system are vast and tangible. On the flip side, not implementing an Electronic Data management system, or doing so ineffectively, will put your organization at severe risk and will undoubtedly cost you numerous unnecessary costs.

The landscape of electronic data management vendors and tools is vast and complicated. Here are some tips to consider before making your decision.


Do

Do assess your environment before selecting a technology

The first step to better controlling your electronic data is to assess how you are handling it today. Unless you have a good understanding of your current systems and processes by which these systems are accessed, you will be flying blind trying to find a solution to fix or address them. If this step is avoided you will most likely fail in your goal to better control electronic data.

Do get an understanding of your regulatory obligations

There are hundreds and hundreds of regulations passed on by different governing bodies on how to manage electronic data. Unfortunately, these rules are not universal. They are typically based on Industry you are in or the type of electronic data you handle. Due to the increase in these regulations most organizations have to comply with at least one. If you do not meet the regulatory requirements you will be putting yourself at tremendous risks of fines and damages. Make sure you have a good handle on what your organization is faced with and make sure any electronic data system can store and manage these files appropriately.

Do get an understanding of your organization’s litigation profile

Find out how often your organization is under litigation and how often those litigation or investigation requests result in collecting and preserving electronic data. This will greatly help you articulate to electronic data management vendors how they can best serve your specific needs.

Do make sure business and IT are communicating

Electronic data management systems are not just the decision of the IT department. In almost business we find that IT and business make independent decisions that almost every time negatively affects the other. Governing a company's electronic data needs input from both sides or you are putting yourselves at risk of many unnecessary costs and risks. This point can not be understated.

Do make sure you are set up for success after implementing a solution

A solution is only as good as its impact to the business. The challenge with electronic data management systems is the technology and legal landscape of this industry is constantly shifting. Unfortunately as time goes on with these solutions, many times there are new employees who have to work and manage these solutions internally. If these systems are ignored or not used effectively you are back at square one of not having an effective solution and opening yourself to the same risks and costs as before. Find a solution provider who offers support packages for your team to rely on in assisting with keeping up with the changes in the Industry. The cost to do so will be a fraction of what it would be otherwise and well worth the investment.


Don't

Do not make a decision based on one part of the business’s needs

This one is a common mistake. Legal will always think they are right on what solution to buy and guess what, so will IT. If one makes a decision without the other, the chances of the solution ultimately failing is very high.

Do not try to buy a one size fits all solution

Technology vendors who tell you their solution does all in the electronic data management area are either lying to you or to themselves. There is no “Easy Button” to managing electronic data. Educate yourself by reading technology Analyst reports, hearing what peers in other organizations are doing, or consult with a company who can assist you choose a technology based on your specific requirements.

Do not get caught up in a “feature function” technology decision

This is a common strategy that IT departments use when choosing a solution. They determine they have a need, they ask for vendors to fill out a feature function checklist, and they make a decision based on that checklist. That certainly works in commoditized markets such as buying a new computer, etc but you shouldn’t be looking at an electronic data management system this way. You are not buying a product. You are buying a solution and a very tailored one at that. Trying to force vendors in the electronic data management space into a feature function battle will not benefit you and will put them in a near impossible situation to assist you.

Do not try to bite off more than you chew

To get to a point where you are effectively controlling your electronic data is a process. It does not happen overnight. Don’t get caught up in a trap of trying to do too much in this technology space. Start small and grow - if you try to take on more than you can handle, your project will fail.

Do not forget that most of the work happens after implementation

Electronic data management systems are not a “set it and forget it” system. They need to be monitored for health. You need to assure your users are enabled to use the system effectively. You need to stay up to speed on the changing Regulations and eDiscovery laws. Sound like a lot of work? I can promise you it’s way less work than having an ineffective electronic data management system.


Summary
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Choosing an electronic data management system is not easy. However if you follow the advice above it will make your job much much easier. If you follow these steps your organization will get to a point of better controlling electronic data and you will reap the enormous benefits of doing so.


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Kevin BarnicleFounder and CEO

Kevin Barnicle is the Founder and CEO of Controle, LLC and regularly advises many Fortune 500 organizations on how to better control ESI....

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