IBM StoredIQ® for Legal—Streamline the eDiscovery process

IBM StoredIQ® for Legal—Streamline the eDiscovery process

IBM StoredIQ® for Legal—Streamline the eDiscovery process

Enterprise companies produce an incredible amount of data every day. HR records, salary information to pictures posted to Slack. Consider the most common form of electronic data created by organizations: email. An average employee at a large company like IBM sends and receives around 50 emails on a normal workday. After just one year of service, this employee would have racked up 13,000 emails. This means that every year a company like IBM sends and receives about 5 billion emails! Storing this data, either on-premise or in the cloud is one of the largest expenses most fortune 500 companies face.

FEB.—JUN. 2017 | 9 MIN. READ

AUTHOR: Robin Auer, Design Research, IBM Cloud and Cognitive Software

While retaining data is costly, when companies are involved in a lawsuit they must be able to produce evidence when requested. Most industries require that companies retain data for a certain amount of time, regardless of the size. There are many facets to eDiscovery, but our StoredIQ for Legal is only targeted at a certain aspect of the process. The EDRM model is an industry standard way of looking at the entire eDiscovery lifecycle. StoredIQ for Legal is focused on the first half of this model, while other competing products handle the second half. The focus is to give paralegals, attorneys, and IT staff the tools they need to discover and produce relevant information when they are facing impending litigation or an internal investigation.

My Role

StoredIQ for Legal was my first project as a Design Researcher at IBM. The team worked already on the project for one month without an official researcher before I joined them in February 2018. Because the third release of the tool was already launched, we were able to start our work on a good basis. Our job was to designs specific features which should come into the tool step by step. I was excited to learn about the design process at IBM and to bring in my expertise as a Researcher. It was really helpful to have a talented group of collaborators to lean on and grow with throughout this first project.


Irina Simpson – Senior Product Manager
Masato Noguchi – Senior Technical Staff Member
Thomas Hampp – Senior Software Engineer
Michael Baessler – Senior Software Architect
David Townsend – Head of Design Analytics Platform
Ludovica De Sio – Design Studio Manager

Team members

Robin Auer – Design Research
Stefan Feger – UX Designer
Michael Friess – UX Designer
Christian Fritsche – Visual Designer
Dimitri Hoffmann – UX Designer
Andreas Rau – UX Engineer

The Personas








Data Stewart



The Challenge

StoredIQ for Legal is an IBM tool which based on the StoredIQ technology. The first release enabled a Paralegal to identify, preserve and collect data if StoredIQ already indexed data. However, companies are legally responsible for governing and producing data wherever it’s stored, not just in places conveniently indexed by StoredIQ. The second release was focused on the Hold Notice process. This helps a paralegal to organize their legal matters, to understand which employees or custodians within their company may have data that are involved in a matter and notify these custodians that they are legally obligated not to destroy the data in their possession. The legal staff must be able to identify, preserve and collect data wherever it exists in a company, and this was a weakness with the previous iteration of StoredIQ for Legal. That's why for the third release of the product, IBM improved the data request process. This allows paralegals to gather evidence from any place data may be stored, both physically and digitally. For the fourth release of the product, we were tasked with designing an experience that makes it easier:

  • to gain insights on whether and how custodians are involved in matters.
  • to inform custodians about their notice obligations with a reduced follow-up effort.
  • to configure the integration with external systems with automation so that work with data across systems is consistent.

Generative Research

In the beginning, we had no idea how teams work together to identify, preserve and collect data from data sources which are not indexed by StoredIQ. So to help answer our questions and validate our assumptions, we asked our users. When we started with our work for StoredIQ for Legal, we worked on user recruitment with our stakeholders from product management and sales. To get clients into the product is time-consuming and needs patience. This is why we worked mostly with people from IBM in the beginning. They are not only employees; they also use IBM products. This makes them perfect test users and interview partners. Through User Interviews with each person in the discovery process, we developed an eDiscovery Lifecycle graphic. We also did some research on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Together with Richard Hogg (IBM GDPR Subject Matter Expert), we ran a future workshop about upcoming challenges for IBM’s enterprise customers.

Where do enterprises
have their data?

Analog Data Sources
Data Sources
Non-Indexed Volumes
Data Sources
Employee Devices

Production Process

Crafting Hills
With a good understanding of the lifecycle of an eDiscovery case at hand, we started to think about specific solutions for the given gaps of StoredIQ for Legal. At IBM, we use tools called Hills to align our teams around a common vision for what we are building. These Hills were the first thing we wanted to come with to find a common sense with our stakeholders from development and offering management. In a kickoff workshop in February we crafted together the first three Hills:

These Hills addressed some gaps in the user journey of StoredIQ for Legal, which we discovered during our user interviews. Once we determined what we wanted to build, we prototyped ideas of achieving it and came up with different solutions for each of the Hills.

Sketching and prototyping
In this case, I want to point out two of our concepts. The concepts we created are focused on the second Hill and try to solve an important pain point: Each hold notice has to be confirmed by the employee who received it. Once an employee received the hold notice, they are called custodians. Often it needs multiple reminders to get the confirmation of the custodian, and sometimes it even needs a heads up for the first line manager of them. This is why we wanted to create an easy and fast way to confirm a hold notice by email and to set up a global hold reminder. The global hold reminder should remind custodians to confirm the hold notice but also to remind them if an old notice is still active.

User Testings
We ran some User Tests with the user in Germany to check which way would be the best to confirm a hold notice via email. We also had two interviews with attorneys to understand if there are any legal restrictions related to that. The User Tests were conducted in person. The prototype was built with Axure and was a clickable HTML website. We used Camtasia to track the screen during the test and to record the Thinking Aloud. The participants saw three different ways to confirm a hold notice via email. During the test they were asked to think aloud and tell us more about their thoughts and feelings. After each version, we asked them to rate the experience between 1 (bad) and 5 (best). In the end, they made a comparison which of the versions they prefer and why. These are some of the key insights:

  • The custodians need detailed information about the matter before they confirm the hold notice.

  • The custodians would like to have a link to something like a custodian portal where they can check the current status of all hold notices and where they have a history about former conversations or changes at the notice.

  • The attorneys would offer a button to confirm (“Yes, I confirm and will comply”) but also one where they can say “I think, I’m not relevant”.

  • From a legal perspective, we can provide any information about a matter in the confirmation mail.

Based on the user test results we came up with the idea of a setup process for the global hold reminder and a custodian portal which should make it easy to confirm a hold notice. The setup process was implemented in the very first step when a paralegal is initiating a new hold notice. Here can be decided whether the global hold reminder should active or not. We differentiate between the initial notice (before confirmed by the custodian), the reminder for the initial notice and the reminder about the active hold notice after the initial notice was confirmed. With some newer interaction—like the toggles—we wanted to initiate a new pattern for the whole product. This should become part of all future concepts of StoredIQ for Legal.

Outcome and Impact

Our research work had a huge impact on the vision and the idea of data governance and data management at IBM. After four months, our project team was transferred to a much bigger topic. IBM decided to combine multiple data governance and data management tools into one big solution. The vision was called Unified Governance & Integration (UG&I). I was leaving Germany to Austin in July 2017 for an IBM training program. However, when I came back in November 2017, I joined the same project team again and continued my design and research work in the field of Data Governance. The understanding and the knowledge we gained through this six month with StoredIQ for Legal helped us to understand how tools like Information Governance Catalog, Data Stage, Information Analyzer, Master Data Management or Quality Stage relate together. More to come!