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Electronic Discovery and Document Management

In today's business world, over 90 percent of an organization's records and documentation are in electronic form. Electronic information can reside in many forms and a variety of storage media from Wide Area Network to BlackBerry devices and iPods. In addition to this extraordinary volume of data created by business, it's estimated that worldwide, three billion e-mails are transmitted daily.

Managing this information is a big challenge for organizations. This challenge is especially heightened during crisis situations such as litigation or requests for electronic documents by a regulatory authority such as the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA).

Could this be a challenge for your organization?

Electronic documents are very mobile. They can be easily distributed to a vast number of parties and stored in multiple versions and locations. As a result, it becomes difficult to manage and control the retention and dissemination of these documents.

While the existence of numerous copies and versions of electronic documents may not have a significant impact on an organization's day-to-day operations, it becomes an overwhelming task to locate, identify, extract and review these documents when full disclosure is requested by regulatory authorities.

Another challenge that organizations face when managing electronic documents is having the skill and capability to handle such documents without causing the meta-data (such as the creation, modified or last access dates) to change, thereby affecting the admissibility of documents should they be needed later in legal proceedings.

What should organizations be doing?

Organizations must have a document retention policy (for instance, determining what documents should be retained, for how long and where these documents should be stored, etc). Their document retention policy should also include the procedures for systematic destruction of documents. They should also have procedures to monitor and enforce compliance with these policies.

Companies should also establish a protocol for responding to requests for electronic documents. The protocol should encompass identifying potential sources for relevant information and preservation of this information. It should also address the methods for extracting the data, and identifying and reviewing relevant documents.

How we can help

PwC's Forensic Technology Solutions team brings a highly collaborative approach to our clients' needs in document management, electronic discovery and computer forensics. Using state-of-the-art technology and PwC computer forensics laboratories worldwide, we have the know-how, capability and global reach to effectively and efficiently find, preserve, retrieve, process, and analyze a wide array of electronic information.

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