EDD as The Tail, Not the Dog – Records Management, Not EDD, is the Driver

I stumbled upon Dennis Kennedy’s blog regarding EDD Trends in 2008. One of his points is about records management. He makes the suggestion that EDD will not be the tail wagging the dog. I agree with this in specific business and technology uses cases.

Historically, I’ve watched business use of electronic mail evolve since 1995 (Windows 95 Inbox and Lotus Notes).  I’ve experienced and evaluated the nuances of successes related to broader document management, records management, document collaboration, etc.  In recent years, there has been a big push to move document sharing from email into other systems.  In some cases it can be done, but there are cultural acceptances to prevent it form happening.

Ultimately it’s about culture, an anthropological foray into the social under pinnings of an organization.  The biology of an organization will either support records management or shun it.  Regulated industries accept and work within the boundaries of records management broadly.  Non-regulated industries take a more lackadaisical approach to data and records management.

In recent interviews with eDiscovery service providers, technology vendors and end users, I dug up two key use cases where EDD and Records Management come together:

  1. Organizations that are regulated have the culture and inquiry requirements to establish a broader records management plan, driven by business process management, regulatory work flow, etc.
  2. Organizations that are not regulated have less records to manage from regulatory requirements or defined business process.

In the former, all discoverable data would be deemed unusable by the records management group because they have defined policies and procedures.  Therefore, Data that is part of an eDiscovery project would be discarded due to its one-off use.  However, it is a corporate legal record, thus it is reasonable to assume a legal group would want to keep the data based on future litigation, see British American Tobacco vs McCabe

In the latter use case, the organization has limited or no formal record management requirements for a broader set of data.  It is reasonable to assume the discoverable data could be deemed corporate records, not just legal records.  Doing this would create a baseline for new record retention and provide a company foreseeable retention for litigious records.  In fact, not saving it and future similar records could be construed as a willful disregard of potentially litigious information. 

Thus I do not believe it is a fair statement to say that RM drives EDD, in non-regulated cases EDD can drive RM.  It is possible litigation may create precedence in regulated industry changing RM requirements there as well.

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