Last year I found and published eDiscovery/Content search errors related to Microsoft 365’s ongoing changes to tenant search infrastructure and the new version of Advanced eDiscovery (AED). I have recently encountered similar AED search issues after another way of upgrades was rolled out to new clients. Given the monstrous global scale of corporate M365 adoption, it is entirely possible that this is the same rolling migration from late last year finally reaching new tenants. I do not have the bandwidth available to open more MSFT support tickets and repeat the same searches over and over with yet another poor tech working from a troubleshooting script before escalating the issue. Just be aware that our conversion to cloud SaaS solutions poses unique challenges to eDiscovery practitioners.
Once upon a time we had dev/test environments where we could run validation tests on major software releases before we applied those upgrades to our production environment. Now providers roll out huge changes to infrastructure, features and performance with minimal or no notice. Using a dedicated eDiscovery platform to apply holds or run searches in M365, G-Suite or other cloud data sources may not protect you from issues introduced during upgrades. Agile/Sprint development cycles have radically increased the rate of new feature releases and eDiscovery modules are dependent on the core platform services. While automated QC systems have improved, eDiscovery seems to be the ultimate stress test of any content management system.
So how can you protect yourself from inadvertent production of incomplete or erroneous cloud content?
First and foremost, your team should have good benchmarks and metrics on past matters. How else are you going to know what a year’s worth of custodial email should look like? Good staff can spot low/high search hits and will dive in to run fast confirmation searches to see if you have the right criteria and scope. I call this the common sense test. If you have known items, spot check for them before doing a ‘pump and dump’ to your retained counsel/provider.
Second, conduct periodic system health checks using either known data sets or at least known volume historical searches. Some of my clients have set up Sunday night PS scripts that run these searches and alert if the results change. Others have a ‘system heath check’ as part of their workflow for major new matters. You would be surprised how often these checks turn up strings of errors from the admin console.
Third, use alternative search methods (Outlook, SharePoint, PowerShell, etc.) to run confirmation searches with your criteria. This is especially important before relying on keyword, metadata or other selective criteria. I prefer to use known data sets (i.e. prior collections that have been processed in multiple platforms) to create confirmation searches in your live system. You paid a fortune for those prior matters so you might as well leverage them to give you some peace of mind.
Obviously this is a highly complex and evolving challenge for eDiscovery practitioners. Remember the standards of reasonable, documented diligence to defend your process. I hate writing declarations explaining incomplete or erroneous productions, so catch them before the other side does. It is remarkably easy to know if the opposing production is missing communications when you have half the conversation already.
My thanks to the many kind words and offers of support from you all. I hope to slowly pick back up my writing/research hours. I did not expect the enormous effort required to be an executor. Do your beneficiaries a favor and engage an estate planner before you drop all your affairs in their lap.
Greg Buckles wants your feedback, questions or project inquiries at [email protected]eDJGroupInc.com. Contact him directly for a free 15 minute ‘Good Karma’ call. He solves problems and creates eDiscovery solutions for enterprise and law firm clients.
Greg’s blog perspectives are personal opinions and should not be interpreted as a professional judgment or advice. Greg is no longer a journalist and all perspectives are based on best public information. Blog content is neither approved nor reviewed by any providers prior to being posted. Do you want to share your own perspective? Greg is looking for practical, professional informative perspectives free of marketing fluff, hidden agendas or personal/product bias. Outside blogs will clearly indicate the author, company and any relevant affiliations.
See Greg’s latest pic on Instagram.