You Call That a Worst Case

By DANIEL ANTION posted 10-11-2011 16:54


You don’t choose a career in systems development or content management for the glory. Oh sure, every now and then, you pick up a compliment (usually from another geek) but then there are those times when someone ruins your day with a comment. Last week, I got one of the latter. I won’t describe the entire conversation, just the comment: “…well, worst case, we could always dig out the paper copies…” You can build your own story around that bit of nonsense, but I just want to point out that going back to paper is far from the worst that can happen.

We got more serious about ECM after the attacks on the World Trade Center. It took a while for the shock to wear off, but eventually someone asked “what would we do if our office was destroyed?” Of course, if you are involved in disaster recovery planning, you are well aware that buildings don’t have to be destroyed in order for content to be destroyed. Two years ago, the water line feeding the ice maker in our refrigerator at work, burst. We are not talking about a flood or a dam bursting; we are not talking about a few thousand gallons spewing out of a fire hose. We are talking about a pinhole in a ¼” diameter bit of copper tubing. The resulting water rolled under the wall and soaked the carpet of the next room where boxes of accounting reports were stacked, waiting for Iron Mountain to pick them up. In addition, the water found its way to the various penetrations (plumbing, voice, data, electrical) through the 3rdfloor slab and leaked in to the office below. Since the leak happened on a weekend, there was plenty of time for the water to reach the first floor and ruin someone else’s Monday.

We also know that we don’t even need destruction in order to reach a worst case scenario; a discovery order will do just fine. Without a clear definition as to where your content is, you may just have to start looking everywhere your content might be. Did I say “look?” Make that “search”, or rummage, rifle, examine, study, explore – OK, I closed the Thesaurus, but you get the point. I have been involved with exactly two discovery requests in the past 10 years. One was for content that was well organized and stored in a series of SharePoint libraries on a site that had been established for this aspect of our business. We were able to quickly determine which libraries were involved, and then simply transfer the documents to an Internet-facing SharePoint site we set up for the attorneys. The other request was for content that spanned everything from paper, to microfilm, to email and database tables. We searched servers, desktops, laptops, file cabinets, backup media and boxes of paper that the good people at Iron Mountain returned to us.

It’s not my nature to be a doomsayer, but I often find myself reminding people that they are probably imagining an inadequate worst-case scenario while they are avoiding ECM tasks. I am fortunate to work for a company that has suffered a minor “water event” and eDiscovery request; at least I have honest examples to point to. Many of you have to be more creative in describing how much worse life could be than having to “dig out the paper…” – good luck.

#ECM #e-discovery #SharePoint #sharepoint #disasterrecover