Custodian Based E-Discovery for SharePoint

3 minute read
Barb Mosher Zinck avatar

There are a few solutions on the market today that offer e-discovery capabilities for the vast amount of data stored within SharePoint environments. But this is the first one we've seen that pulls together a collection based on custodian information.

Focusing on the Custodian Link

FTI Consulting offers a number of solutions and services for e-discovery. FTI Technology, one of five FTI Consulting segments, is 100% focused on e-discovery. Their solutions are both hosted in the cloud or available on premise. Although the company does admit that most of their on clients are using their hosted model.

According to Michael Kinnaman, Senior Managing Director, FTI Technology and Larry Briggi, Managing Director, FTI Technology, one of their clients approached them a year and a half ago with a problem. They had 2TB of data inside their SharePoint environment and 600 custodians on a list as plaintiff in a legal case. They needed to collect all the documents related to these custodians, but there was nothing available on the market that could easily do it.

So FTI started building their own tool. In the process they determined a way to find documents by custodian directly and not by keyword searching.

The SharePoint Harvester

What FTI ended up creating is the SharePoint Harvester software. Before we go further, it's important to point out that this is a software + services offering at this point in time. And although this is not something we would normally cover, the approach to how it works is unique enough to capture our attention.

The Harvester interfaces with Active Directory and SharePoint to help relate custodian names to AD logins and as a result, their SharePoint documents. A list of custodians in excel format is loaded into the Harvester application. This list is run against a dump of Active Directory names.

At this point a manual process occurs, because it's obviously not going to be that easy to match names against AD accounts. Four types of reports are generated based on this process:

  1. A list of custodians matched
  2. A list of custodians that were manually matched
  3. A list of custodians that they aren't sure about, but have possibilities to consider
  4. A list of users with no matches.

The overall list is finalized from these reports. It is then applied against the AD/SharePoint integrated data and reports are run listing documents, websites, permissions based on these custodians.

Learning Opportunities

A secondary culling is then completed with outside copies being placed in a separate repository (along with associated metadata), thus creating a defensible collection.

It's an interesting approach and easy to see why it's a combination software plus consulting activity. It will be interesting to see if FTI can continue to develop the tool to be used directly by the customer.

Interested in Learning More?

Pricing for the SharePoint Harvester software/service is based on the size of the SharePoint site and the number of custodians. Also note the solution does work for SharePoint 2010 as well as SharePoint 2007.

You can visit FTI's website to learn more about this unique solution and other e-discovery software they offer.