The EDRM diagram represents a conceptual view of the e-discovery process, not a literal, linear or waterfall model. One may engage in some but not all of the steps outlined in the diagram, or one may elect to carry out the steps in a different order than shown here.
The diagram also portrays an iterative process. One might repeat the same step numerous times, honing in on a more precise set of results. One might also cycle back to earlier steps, refining one’s approach as a better understanding of the data emerges or as the nature of the matter changes.
The diagram is intended as a basis for discussion and analysis, not as a prescription for the one and only right way to approach e-discovery.
Below is an explanation of the five elements of the EDRM framework: boxes, colored arrows, grey arrows, the volume triangle, and the relevance triangle.
Each box in the EDRM diagram represents a major stage in the e-discovery process broadly defined. Within each box there can be a number of sub-processes. Each box is connected to the others boxes by both colored and grey arrows.
2. The Colored Arrows
The colored arrows, such as the orange arrow from Information Management to Identification, represent a consensus view of a typical e-discovery workflow. Although the colored arrows represent a common general flow of events, the grey arrows are just as important.
3. The Grey Arrows
The grey arrows, such as the arrow from Identification to Information Management, show that the e-discovery process often is iterative. At any stage of the e-discovery process, it may be appropriate to cycle back to an earlier stage. For example, as you monitor processing of ESI (electronically stored information), you may realize that an additional custodian’s ESI is relevant for your purposes and decide to return to the identification, preservation and collection stages to deal with that person’s ESI.
4. The Yellow Volume Triangle
As you work through the e-discovery process, you should be able to reduce the volume of ESI with which you need to contend. While you might start the process with terabytes of data, by the end of the process rarely will you want to put more than a handful of files before an audience.
5. The Green Relevance Triangle
As you work through the e-discovery process, you should find that an increasingly large percentage of the ESI you are handling is relevant to your project. Generally, the increase in relevance goes hand in hand with the decrease in volume.
EDRM creates practical resources to improve e-discovery and information governance. Launched in May 2005, EDRM was established to address the lack of standards and guidelines in the e-discovery market. In January 2006, EDRM published the Electronic Discovery Reference Model, followed by additional resources such as IGRM, CARRM and the Talent Task Matrix. Since its launch, EDRM has comprised 320 organizations, including 186 service and software providers, 71 law firms, 47 corporations, 8 governmental entities, 4 educational institutions and 4 industry groups involved with e-discovery and information governance.