The use of business collaboration tools that allow employees to communicate, share and edit documents, record and present increased 44% since the start of the pandemic. In fact, 80% of workers used collaboration tools in 2021. With the increased use of social media, text, and chat messages showing no signs of slowing down, we’re sharing our policy recommendations and best practices for business to consider during the implementation of chat platforms.

Recommended Communication Policies & Preservation for Corporations to Implement

  • Implement training as part of on-boarding employees
  • Establish good user behavior. Before discovery, minimize the risk up front and create clear policies governing how employees use these tools
  • Advise employees data might be used later in litigation
  • Require consent or acknowledgement that employer maintains control over business information on personal devices
  • Remind people not to let guard down when communications are informal
  • Explain how long the data will be kept
  • Ensure users cannot introduce unnecessary data in the conversation
  • Actively apply settings and permissions through administrators
  • Clearly identify “privilege” communications
  • Most important – enforce your policies

Other Best Practices

    • Find a Good Partner/Use a Good Tool – a vendor with development resources or a discovery tool that has active development to keep up with the growing number of data sources and frequent changes is key right now; asking for help BEFORE starting collections is critical.
    • Restrict the Eyes and Hands on this Data – most collections of structured data are all or nothing; there is a high probability of sensitive data from C-level executives that communicate in these tools.
    • Licensing – different application licenses offer different retention periods and export capabilities.
    • Establish a Defensible Process and Fight for it – ESI orders can get a little too demanding where there needs to be some freedom in process or solutions; have a working process and/or example for your company rather than relying on someone else’s idea of the correct process
    • Understand your tool’s native data structure – most collaboration tools share a similar data model, so know whether that model in its native format is better for your processes than its export format; the developers of these tools did not design the export features with eDiscovery as the primary driver.
    • Threads versus Individual Messages – be sure to know whether your collaboration tool supports threading within the group messaging forums, and plan on user’s not using the feature consistently
    • Cost – the data footprint is relatively small, but the costs are higher given the complexities
    • Collab Tool Review is Not Standard – this data does not fit your typical “four-corners” document review processes, and review team members will need unique training and understanding.
    • Look at the Big Picture First – you are usually better off searching and reviewing large streams of content with just a few reviewers as a first level review. Do this before trying to isolate the necessary content, if your ESI order allows it.  for production and applying redactions.
    • Technology/Analytics – emerging communication intelligence tools can help identify patterns, sentiment and tone in chat messages; what people say isn’t always what they mean, and what people don’t say is sometimes just as important to the context of a conversation as what they do say.
    • Chat Languages – searches and reviewers should be adapted to speak the chat languages; shorthand, emojis, pictures and animations all tell a story or provide meaning and context in the conversations

How Can we Help?

TCDI’s social media, text and chat processing tool, Communication Intelligence can assist with the collection and review of these chat messages as well as social media and text message data. Communication Intelligence allows data to be loaded into any platform to be reviewed and produced in an easy to read conversation format.