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Customizing Compliance: SharePoint eDiscovery

Thinking about your business being mired in litigation is not the most pleasant thing to consider. However, in this age of digital transformation and the rise of the digital workplace, having a system in place to gather information from your business’ online environments is a key component of digital workplace governance should investigation be necessary. Regardless of the case, you will have to locate information, evidence, and pave the way for investigators to do the same.

To address this, SharePoint (and by extension Office 365) includes a powerful eDiscovery function. According to Microsoft Support, this tool provides a method of searching for and gathering materials across several technological environments (for example SharePoint and Exchange) to find messages and documents relevant to litigation or an investigation. With eDiscovery, one can create a case, identify areas in which to search for information, conduct document and content searches with highly specific parameters, and place holds on documents should they be needed as evidence. Because of eDiscovery’s importance in extracting information for legal purposes, it’s necessary for a compliance-minded business to incorporate this tool into a digital workplace.

We’ve discussed before that you can use LiveTiles Design as a tool to compile select parts of the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center into a portal with a visually appealing and engaging user interface. So how can you fit SharePoint eDiscovery into this idea of a business-customized compliance portal?

Standard eDiscovery page in Office 365 Security and Compliance Center

Customizing Compliance: SharePoint eDiscovery

Source: https://blogs.office.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/New-enhancements-to-Office-365-eDiscovery-1b.png  

The first option is to create tiles linking to separate eDiscovery cases, instead of just one linking to the entire case list. Where’s the value in breaking it down by case? Those businesses who may be transitioning from using a specific SharePoint eDiscovery Center to the updated eDiscovery function housed in the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center may have open cases in both environments. Microsoft recommends that new eDiscovery cases be created and managed in the Security and Compliance Center, as it is impossible to import cases from a purely SharePoint eDiscovery Center (which has different architecture). If you’ve created eDiscovery cases in an eDiscovery Center site collection in SharePoint or SharePoint Online, they can only be managed through that site. Therefore, if your department is managing open cases in both environments, then linking to separate cases from a compliance portal will decrease the amount of time it takes to get to the correct case. Alternately, if your organization has large eDiscovery cases open at once (in any environment), with multiple individuals working on them, then it might be more time-efficient to surface separate links. An example of a case-specific tile link in LiveTiles Design can be seen in the screenshot below.

Customizing Compliance: SharePoint eDiscovery

Another way to set up a link to the eDiscovery tools in a LiveTiles-designed page is to simply have one tile linking directly to the eDiscovery section of the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center, or to a SharePoint eDiscovery Center (whichever you use). If you only have a few cases to manage in one environment, or if the number of people in your department working with case materials is small, then it might be best to link to the case list instead of to separate cases. That way, you won’t clutter a portal with links that only a select few IT personnel will use.

A crucial fact that should be kept in mind when you’re designing a compliance portal using LiveTiles Design is that you cannot use the designer to change access permissions in SharePoint and Office 365. If a user viewing the page does not have access in SharePoint or Office 365 to any eDiscovery cases shown on a LiveTiles-designed page, then they will not be able to access those materials. It is true that you can alter visibility permissions in a tile so that it is only visible to select SharePoint user groups, but this has no effect on permission designated in SharePoint. If a tile linking to an eDiscovery case is invisible to a certain user set, and their access is not restricted in SharePoint proper, they still have access to that information. As the security of information is paramount in ensuring technological compliance, make sure that your SharePoint permissions accurately reflect who should be able to access the information, and use LiveTiles Design to customize only the appearance of your tools for users.

So why use LiveTiles? If it’s got little bearing on the compliance functions themselves, then where’s the added value of creating a page that links to them all separately? Two words – user experience. Each business and industry has different regulatory and internal compliance requirements, meaning that the way each enterprise uses the tools in Office 365 and SharePoint differ. By using LiveTiles Design, you can create and customize one page that includes all the elements that your IT department uses most frequently for compliance, in a beautiful interface that will engage your users. Compliance is required, but fulfilling that requirement does not have to be boring. What do you think? How would you customize a compliance portal with eDiscovery?

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