Retention policies should do three things: protect business value, comply with regulations, and an infrastructure that streamlines content searches. This is IT's domain but impacts the legal arm as the attorneys are often the bearers of the torch for compliance, and of course the better structured that data infrastructure is the faster eDiscovery searches will go.
The third one is the big concern. Some corporations feel that their enterprise content system (ECM) protects them by centralizing and tagging their data for easy retrieval, but a litigation-based eDiscovery will not stop at the ECM. Collection must also include email, file servers, databases, VTLs, disk and tape archival, laptops and desktops, and so on and on. All of that data that is not contained in the ECM - and that will be the majority of enterprise data - must also be available for search. If there is no means of efficiently searching that data, then the eDiscovery motion will either yield inadequate results or will take a century to perform... or both.
This is where a partnership between IT and legal comes in very, very handy. IT should be creating a transparent information infrastructure not only for eDiscovery, but also for themselves.
Platforms that map/index data throughout the enterprise are immensely helpful in this regard. Doing this proactively is even better as it takes even a powerful software some time to crawl through all enterprise storage areas. Proactive deployment gives it time to do so, so when eDiscovery comes up - and it will - the content is already indexed and optimized for searches and other actions.
Without the proper map/indexing tools, it is frustratingly difficult to render electronically stored information (ESI) transparent to eDiscovery, compliance and even storage management processes. Yet without this, any operation that requires classifying and subsequently acting upon data is impossible. The inability to access, use, control, and manage their vast stores of unstructured data overwhelms IT and business managers alike.
Successful records management and data retention become the fountainhead of a transparent eDiscovery process, where litigation workflow easily takes the information it needs from wherever it is stored. This level of automatic classification provides widely classified and categorized data without laborious effort.