recommind-logo-2009.jpgIt’s no secret that the relationship between corporate IT and legal departments isn’t as cohesive as it should be. A recent survey released by Recommind, a leader in search-powered information risk management (IRM) software, revealed that a lack of collaboration between both teams was greatly hindering e-Discovery efforts.

2009 v. 2010: A Decrease in Collaboration, an Increase in Tensions

Comparing results against the company’s inaugural survey in 2009, this year’s report indicates that the departmental disconnect is getting worse. The survey, which examined the collaboration strategies of senior IT managers at enterprises averaging 13,000 employees, found that IT and legal teams aren’t collaborating on a number of issues, and are spending too much time questioning each other’s commitment to and understanding of e-Discovery and regulatory compliance.

At a time when e-Discovery and regulatory issues are gaining momentum, these results don’t exactly instill confidence across the enterprise. As well, with more e-Discovery platforms moving in-house, more IT departments are being called upon to help integrate technologies and train staff. While vendors make their products and services seem like the perfect marriage between IT and legal, the truth may indicate that there are tensions.

For example:

  • In 2009, 67% of respondents described the relationship between the two departments as “good” or “very good”; in 2010, only 54% did.
  • In 2009, 37% of respondents reported that IT and legal were working more closely together than the year before; only 27% reported that they were in 2010.
  • In 2009, 40% of respondents stated that their IT department considered eDiscovery to be a high to very high priority; yet in 2010, only 26% said that it was.
  • In 2009, 82% of respondents said that IT was “very involved” in eDiscovery technology purchasing decisions, with legal being “very involved” 48% of the time. Again, in 2010, those numbers dropped from 82% to 78% and 48% to 33%, respectively.

Perceived Responsibilities and a Lack of Communication

But that’s collaboration, as for how the teams communicate with and evaluate each other, the survey points out more disparities. The departments are not meeting frequently enough to successfully monitor and manage activities.

  • 72% of respondents report that their IT and legal teams meet once a quarter or less; 52% meet once a year or less and 23% never meet at all.

As for how departments implement e-Discovery processes, the survey honed in on how each team perceives its role in the process. Thirty-five percent think that the IT department is to execute tasks “as quickly as possible”, while 61% believe that the primary goal of the legal department is to comply “with federal regulations and court orders.”

For as much awareness about e-Discovery that has been promoted within the enterprise, it’s very discouraging that companies cannot resolve territorial disputes that are obviously standing in the way of compliance and risk management.

Now that these results have been exposed, it’s time for each company to take a look inside their own departments to learn more about how processes are carried out and find long-term solutions so that a company’s data and integrity are not compromised further.