As Microsoft 365 (M365) has become the standard enterprise productivity suite for the public sector, some government agencies have begun using Microsoft Purview to manage portions of their data discovery process and exploring its potential to cut costs.

In many cases, Purview is viewed as a “free” eDiscovery solution since it’s included in the M365 bundle. However, there are hidden costs to using it. In fact, some agencies have had to hire a full-time employee dedicated to managing Purview.

In my time with Casepoint’s Government Solutions team, I’ve seen a number of agencies try to leverage the M365 environment, including Purview, for their full eDiscovery needs. By leveraging a platform they already have access to, as the thinking goes, they’ll save money over the long haul on eDiscovery. 

However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

What many agencies find upon going this route: Purview is not really built for their specific needs and use cases. What they actually need from an eDiscovery solution is often nowhere to be found in the M365 ecosystem. In fact, it’s not uncommon for federal agencies to settle on Purview, then realize its many shortcomings, and ultimately purchase a dedicated eDiscovery solution months or years later.

With this in mind, let’s explore some of the top issues federal clients have reported to us that make it particularly challenging to use M365 and Microsoft Purview for eDiscovery.

14 Reasons Not to Use M365 for eDiscovery

1. License Requirements

All three Purview licensing levels have basic capabilities, but eDiscovery (Premium) is the only one with advanced features — legal hold notifications, advanced indexing, analytics, Optical Character Recognition (OCR), and predictive coding models, for starters. Make sure you know what’s available to you, based on your particular M365 license. If you’re eyeing the eDiscovery (Premium) capabilities, will it provide you everything you need to manage your entire discovery process?

2. Data Limitation

Microsoft Purview is limited to analyzing data generated within the Microsoft 365 environment. This is one of the most commonly cited limitations of a platform-dependent system. Obviously, this can be highly problematic for agencies with data originating from various sources.

3. Defensibility Issues

The deduplication, indexing, and searching capabilities in Microsoft’s discovery ecosystem can result in stubborn defensibility problems. For instance, a significant portion of data may be non-indexed or only partially indexed. This can significantly limit search capabilities and may even lead to oversight.

4. Unique Search Syntax

M365 users are required to learn and use Microsoft’s specific search query syntax and rules, which differ from commonly used platforms such as dtSearch. This can create a steep learning curve and confusion for even seasoned legal professionals.

5. Search Limitations

M365 users face critical limitations on the number of searches they can run simultaneously, the number of search results they can preview, and advanced search capabilities such as wildcards. In some cases, only prefixes are supported, hindering precise searches. Some agencies can find workarounds for certain types of searches, but again, M365 imposes unnecessary restrictions.

6. Search Engine Performance

Users frequently report that the search engine in Microsoft Purview leaves much room to be desired, particularly with speed. Additionally, it is not centralized within a single module, requiring users to search in multiple places within the M365 ecosystem — leading to tedium and lost efficiency.

7. Limited Review Capabilities

Microsoft Purview offers limited review capabilities, such as the inability to perform entire-page redactions, add QC (Quality Control) tags to identify potentially privileged documents or duplicates, or group documents by families.

8. File Type Support

Review tools in Microsoft Purview can only be applied to a limited number of file types, leaving a significant gap for data that may need to be reviewed in a dedicated eDiscovery platform. By contrast, Casepoint supports over 600 file types and counting.

9. Production Limitations

Microsoft 365 does not support productions with complex formatting or handling of large data sets. Not only that — it does not allow collaboration with outside counsel or opposing parties within the platform. This can elevate the risk of data exposure during transit. Microsoft-specific metadata is often appended to your production by default.

10. Custom Review Workflows

Microsoft Purview lacks support for custom review workflows using auto action rules. This limits the flexibility in tailoring the review process to specific needs.

11. Review Batching and Tracking

Microsoft Purview does not allow users the ability to review batching. What’s more — the platform does not support features such as assignment and tracking, which are essential for efficient eDiscovery workflows.

12. Document Sharing

Surprisingly, Microsoft Purview does not support document sharing during the review process, despite the fact this feature is standard on most every major eDiscovery platform. This restriction can hinder collaborative efforts among eDiscovery teams.

13. Complex Redactions and Codes

For Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) use cases, the platform does not adequately support complex redactions and codes. This can cause unnecessary delays and costly errors in the redaction process.

14. Bulk and Auto Redaction

Microsoft Purview lacks bulk and auto redaction capabilities, which are critical for efficiently handling large volumes of documents with sensitive information.

Put Purview in the Rear-View and Step into the Future

Given the limitations of Microsoft Purview, especially when dealing with data generated outside of Microsoft 365, it’s better to choose an eDiscovery platform built to manage the entire EDRM. M365 can be used to manage the data created within the Microsoft ecosystem and work well when used in tandem with a dedicated eDiscovery solution. But leveraging M365 to manage your entire eDiscovery process will likely leave you frustrated and lacking confidence in your work product.

Put Purview in the Rear-View and Step into the Future

Instead, choose a platform that allows you to work through the full EDRM process, drive efficiencies, and speed up review. Casepoint, for instance, is an application-agnostic eDiscovery solution that offers the power, scale, and broad feature set to reliably collect from all your applications. To achieve the full benefits from such a platform, agencies will need to work with a provider partner that clearly understands their unique challenges and can offer flexible solutions and workarounds to help with their unique workflows.

We implore agencies who are curious about Purview’s eDiscovery functionality, to consider all of the time, money, and resources they could spare by skipping the formality of entertaining it as a legitimate eDiscovery solution. The sooner agencies can begin exploring the potential of an extensible, end-to-end eDiscovery platform built specifically for government use cases and workflows — the better off they’ll be.

Want to learn more? Get in touch with Casepoint’s Government Solutions team.

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