e-Discovery software abounds, and more packages are coming on the market weekly. Gartner, an IT research and advisory organization, estimates that the e-Discovery software market in the U.S. will reach $1.5 billion by 2013. With many options to choose from, it seems that the key to running a successful e-Discovery project is to simply select the correct software package. Nothing could be further from the truth.
e-Discovery software is a tool. Like any tool, a skilled craftsman needs to wield it in order to produce a successful result. Given the complex nature and multiple nuances of e-Discovery, the skill level of the project manager is much more important than the software tool or tools selected to accomplish the job.
A case in point – de-NISTing. NIST stands for the National Institute of Standards and Technologies, a U.S. government agency tasked with settings technological standards. Four times a year, NIST releases a library of software signatures (hash values) for system and other common computer files. This library is routinely incorporated into e-Discovery software tools to automatically filter out files that are not likely to be relevant to a matter, in order to reduce the number of records that need to be reviewed (hence the term de-NISTing). Since review costs make up between 60% and 80% of a typical discovery budget, using automated techniques such as filtering with the NIST library can result in significant cost reductions.
This all sounds great. However, a recent examination of the NIST library revealed that it does not include signatures for Windows 7 system files or Microsoft Office 2010 files. Current estimates indicate that over 350 million computers are running Windows 7, and over 100 million run Office 2010. This means that using the common de-NISTing technique on a Windows 7 or Office 2010 machine may not filter very much, leaving a lot of irrelevant records that need to be dealt with some other way.
If a project manager simply relies on e-Discovery software that incorporates de-NISTing to take care of irrelevant system and program files, without a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished or any means of reviewing the results produced, the number of records subjected to subsequent review may be significantly higher, resulting in dramatic e-Discovery cost overruns.
For more information on the role e-Discovery software plays in the larger e-Discovery process, contact Wortzman Nickle.