Which of the 5 Data Collection Methods Is Right For Your Case?

There are many different ways a firm can approach the process of data collection – but there’s no one way that is superior to all the other data collection methods. Instead, a solid data collection strategy has to be tailored to the firm, its organization, and its needs. When handled properly, the entire process of data collection can be faster, more accurate, and less invasive. This post details the different data collection methods available to law firms and corporate counsels and provides insight into the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The 5 Main Data Collection Methods

1. Self-Collection

Self-collection kits are a fairly recent option. Essentially, a kit is mailed to the business that includes physical hardware (such as a hard drive) and software (such as a data collection suite) that facilitates the process of collecting data. Once the data has been collected, it is then mailed back or transferred using encrypted cloud uploads. Self-collection requires less legwork on the part of the firm and reduces the amount of time that it needs to spend on data collection. However, it does rely upon the end user to follow the protocols correctly – and the documents may not arrive in a timely fashion or correct fashion because of that. When self-collection does work out, it’s often the most expedient and low cost of eDiscovery collection methods.

2. Remote Collection

A remote collection can be performed very similarly to a self-collection but with more guidance throughout the process. A remote collection still requires that a self-collection kit or uploader agent be delivered or installed at the business in question. However, the firm will generally want to manage the remote collection themselves. This puts more control in the hands of the firm without requiring that the firm invest more time than necessary collecting the data in person.

3. IT Collection

IT collection is one of the most common types of data collection methods. In IT collection, the IT departments of the business collect the relevant information and then send it directly to the firm. This is often very convenient as the IT department knows where to find the information and the best methods through which to capture and transfer them. The downside to this is that IT professionals aren’t always certain about what data collection means for the eDiscovery process. They may attempt to provide a more forensic accounting of the data, which can lead to more information that has to be processed and reviewed than is strictly necessary. It’s also important to consider who you might be putting on the stand to testify regarding the data collection. Some IT teams are trained for this kind of work but in reality, most arent. This solution often seems like the path of least resistance, but without a plan, guidelines of collection and defensible documentation, in-house collection can be a disaster.

4. External Collection

Companies that aren’t able to perform their own collections can outsource collections to certified and professional third parties. Some companies outsource their entire eDiscovery process. This ensures that the collection is done properly and with minimal necessary input from the business itself. This is usually a good option when a firm doesn’t have the resources to handle the discovery process itself but wants to ensure that the process goes smoothly.

5. In-Person Collection

Finally, the most expensive but most accurate of the data collection methods is in-person collection. The firm sends a representative directly to the facility to collect the data. This generally provides better and more accurate data but does require more by way of resources. In-person data collection should usually be done with unusually large or complex data sets.

Not every data methodology is going to fit every time. A litigation support firm can help go over your eDiscovery collection methods and find the options best for you. There may be times when a remote collection makes more sense or when an in-person collection makes more sense. By using the right type of methodology at the right time, smaller firms are able to compete with big firms – successfully leveraging their resources even if they may not be as bountiful. For more information about how to leverage your resources, download our eBook: How to Use eDiscovery to Compete With the Big Boys.

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