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Implementing a Team Collaboration Tool? 6 Questions Your Legal Team Will Ask

Team collaboration tools are here to stay – and we can reasonably expect their use to increase for years to come. Whether seeking smoother project management or better communication, companies can now choose from an ever-expanding range of platform options.

Many companies have enjoyed a sharp uptick in productivity as the result of implementing a more collaborative management structure. As a result, modern enterprises are increasingly dependent upon team collaboration tools. And with this dependence comes the need for control and compliance to fulfill legal obligations and mitigate risks. 

Implementing a Team Collaboration Tool?   6 Questions Your Legal Team Will AskWhile the benefits are obvious, many organizations are less familiar with the hidden challenges and added responsibilities that come hand-in-hand with collaboration tools. As a result, your legal team will doubtless have some key questions to ask in relation to the implementation of any new team collaboration platform.

Let’s look at the essential legal responsibilities related to the use of team collaboration software. Here are some key questions that your legal team may have before you implement a new solution.

1. Which employees will be using the tool, and how will they have access?

As a company, you have to decide who should have access to your team collaboration tool, as well as to what degree. There’s a clear need to restrict unauthorized users from posting information that might have legal and ethical ramifications. Care also needs to be taken when it comes to the protection of intellectual property and sensitive data. In short, you’ll need to create multiple channels and limit access in an intelligent way across them.

Make sure that you have a clearly communicated strategy (and associated policy) for the management of users, roles, and groups. Additionally, consider a solution such as Pagefreezer to enable keyword monitoring as a means of maintaining correct, safe platform usage.

Correct Classification of Employees and Access

You’ll need to deploy a logical approach when it comes to deciding which employees require access to collaboration tools – and what level of access they should have to various channels and admin capabilities. Whether independent contractors, freelancers, executives, or managers, the accurate classification of employees is integral to granting relevant levels of access to specific users.

Different legal issues can stem from how different employees use collaboration tools. In order for your team collaboration tool to be used in a way that mitigates the risk of a legal matter arising, make sure to lay out clear-cut internal communication policies for employees. 

You should also consider integrating your internal communication policies from the onboarding process to existing staff. To ensure flawless integration, make sure to enforce fair policies and have mandatory training for your staff.

2. How will data be retained? And for how long?

The timeframe of data retention boils down to the internal data policies your organization puts in place. The trick is to align these internal policies with the team collaboration tools that you intend to use, as automatic settings may not mirror your company's requirements. For instance, Slack archives messages of the users permanently (or at least, for the full lifetime of the workspace.) This may or may not align with internal policies, so be sure to check and adjust as deemed necessary.

The sector that you operate within may also have specific compliance requirements with regard to the retention of business data. The more heavily regulated your industry, the more care must be taken here. Data generated by team collaboration tools will be classified as business records, so must be treated accordingly.

When legal considerations enter into the mix, data retention is about much more than meeting compliance requirements – preservation is important, as you may need to produce data as evidence in the case of litigation. Although data retention time frames depend on your industry, on average, they can typically range between 3-10 years.

By working with Pagefreezer, your legal team can be assured that you have complete control over the exact scheduling and duration of all retained data. Your internal policies will be faithfully and consistently maintained at all times, leaving no margin for error (and plenty of flexibility to alter these parameters, whenever needed.)

3. Can content be placed on legal hold to prevent deletion?

Generally, data retention and disposal can be automated. But, on occasion, you may want the capacity to ring-fence particular data, keeping it safe from scheduled deletion. If a request for data to be placed on legal hold is made, this is especially important. Failure to protect requested data from scheduled deletion could result in legal action.

Your legal team should be happy to learn that when working with a solution such as Pagefreezer, placing data on legal hold is quick, intuitive, and dependable. With clear dashboard access, certain users, conversations, or data sets can be protected and preserved until further notice.

As more and more legal cases revolve around the use of ESI as evidence, the need for companies to be able to override automated data deletion is growing. In fact, the rise of collaboration tools (and the huge amounts of data that these generate daily) will doubtless be the cause of more legal cases centering around ESI-based evidence in the years to come.

This all results in a need for proactive eDiscovery preparedness, and a practical approach to protect specific data with legal hold.

4. Will any users be placed on permanent legal hold?

When it comes to the way that your data is archived, it’s important to decide which groups or individual users may merit closer data control, for example, with a lifetime legal hold. Senior management individuals often have to deal with sensitive information, which requires data to be placed on permanent legal hold. Your legal team will be able to advise here.

If you want to make the most of your collaboration tool's functionality, get support from an expert solution like Pagefreezer to ensure that accurate and dependable individual archiving parameters can be applied with ease.

Logically, extra care and increased preservation make sense when there is a higher probability of legal issues arising. You should always be in a position to present evidence to avoid short and long-term legal consequences. 

5. How will data be collected and preserved for litigation?

The legal compliance challenges of platforms such as Slack are well documented. When it comes to data collection and preservation for litigation, your legal team will have an obligation to provide ESI as admissible evidence within a set period of time.

This makes the manner of your data retention and preservation especially important. It is another reason why companies should consider a dedicated solution like Pagefreezer to ensure automated legal compliance.

Our enterprise-grade solution makes the entire process easier for your compliance and legal teams to search and access preserved data in real-time. Your legal teams no longer have to manually wade through an ocean of unstructured data. Pagefreezer makes sure that your company is ready to deal with any eDiscovery request quickly and efficiently.

Your legal team can also use Pagefreezer to add groups and users to the Pagefreezer dashboard, enabling content to be displayed on live replay. The advanced search functionality can be used to check content across direct conversations, archives, groups, accounts, and timelines.

This is particularly helpful with an increasingly prevalent modern challenge: decoding emojis during the eDiscovery process is an important aspect of eDiscovery and litigation. Emojis draw specific (and often coded) meaning depending upon their manner and method of use, and this means they need to be placed into the full context of the conversion they relate to. Thankfully, translating the full sentiment of emojis is made easier by the real-time in-context capture of data.

6. How can data be exported and presented?

When responding to a request for ESI, speed is of the essence. Requests are subject to specific timeframes, and penalties for exceeding these can be severe. Because team collaboration tools generate such vast amounts of unstructured data, your legal team may, understandably, have some concerns about responding to requests in a timely fashion. They’ll also want to know that once the correct ESI has been located, it can be presented in the proper and admissible formats.

Working with a solution like Pagefreezer not only gives you better access to your archived data, it also gives you plenty of control over exporting formats. With the interactive and user-friendly Pagefreezer dashboard, your legal team will be able to find specific records, collect case files, and export them in the correct formats.

One of the hallmarks of Pagefreezer is its search function that allows you to export relevant data instantly and effortlessly. It is a cost-effective and time-efficient solution that offers the convenience to legal teams of collecting and focusing on specific data records.

To ensure its validity, the admissibility of data often comes down to the inclusion of timestamps, hash values, and linked metadata. With Pagefreezer’s wide range of export options, your legal team can confidently depend on having access to everything they need, in the right format.

Want to learn more? Check out our related enterprise collaboration articles:

George van Rooyen
George van Rooyen
George van Rooyen is the Content Marketing Manager at Pagefreezer.

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