What Is the Information Lifecycle?

by: Kim Taylor, CEO

Here at Innovative Discovery, we say that we partner with law firms, corporations, and government agencies to provide service, guidance, and consultation throughout the information lifecycle. It makes perfect sense to us, but for some, it may raise the question, “what exactly IS the information lifecycle?” In short, managed information goes through a natural process from creation to eventual archiving or deletion, and this is the information lifecycle. A lifecycle management policy ensures the integrity of the information and provides for moving or removing it when appropriate.

The stages of the information lifecycle

Information goes through a sequence of stages. Lifecycle management tracks the stages to confirm that data is handled properly. There is no universally accepted list of stages, but the variations cover the same actions.

  • Creation or acquisition. This is the point where information comes into a managed environment. It can be created internally or received from an outside source. This step includes the creation of metadata for later identification.
  • Organize. The information is stored in one or more places. If it’s sensitive information, control of dissemination and security of storage is important.
  • Utilize. Information sometimes must be moved to a new system. It may be necessary to migrate it to a different format or add metadata. This step covers a broad range of activities to keep the data useful.
  • Remediate. Information needs to be moved, transformed, and made available so that software can use it. Maintaining the information’s integrity while doing all this is important and sometimes difficult.
  • Store. Information eventually falls out of active use. At some point, it makes sense to move it to an archive. An archival policy reduces the amount of data information systems must handle and makes it easier to retain it securely. Data can be recovered from the archive when necessary.
  • Eliminate. Information which is no longer needed can be deleted. Sometimes deletion is a legal requirement; in other cases, it is prohibited. A deletion policy needs to consider all business and legal obligations.

Comparison of information lifecycle with EDRM

The information lifecycle has some points of similarity with the electronic discovery reference model (EDRM). EDRM is, as its name implies, specifically aimed at the eDiscovery business. It includes not only information lifecycle concerns but also how the information is used.

The model consists of nine stages. The first, “information governance,” is the information lifecycle aspect. Considering it a separate stage is somewhat misleading; information governance is a part of every stage.

Stages 6 through 9 (review, analysis, production, and presentation) are distinctive to the discovery process. They deal with the use of the information for establishing facts. The review and analysis stages take privilege and relevance into account. The presentation stage deals with when, where, and how information will be presented for depositions, hearings, and so on. Information lifecycle management needs to make sure the information is available for these stages and protected from misuse.

Innovative Discovery specializes in ALL stages of the information lifecycle – we are information connoisseurs!

Risks in the information lifecycle

In the context of discovery, information lifecycle management concerns itself with the integrity, availability, and authenticity of data.

Integrity means that the data has not been altered or corrupted. Risks include bit rot, malicious alteration, and user or software errors.

Availability means the ability to obtain data promptly when it is needed. The risks to availability include hardware failure, loss of access to accounts, inaccurate or missing metadata, and improper storage.

Authenticity means confirming that the source of the information. The main risk here is the absence of authenticating information or a broken chain of custody.

It isn’t enough for the information to be available, unaltered, and authentic. Records need to show that the information management practices have been adequate to eliminate any reasonable doubt. Documentation at each step in the lifecycle is the key.

Information lifecycle management is important in all kinds of organizations, but it takes on special significance in the handling of legal documents and evidence. Improper management can mean a lost case and incur penalties.

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