Hanzo is proud to announce a new follow-the-link feature in its preservation tool, Hanzo Hold for Slack. Now, instead of just preserving the collaboration content that resides within Slack, Hanzo Hold can reach outside to preserve the exact version of a Google Drive document that is linked, but not uploaded, in Slack.
This blog post describes the challenges corporate legal teams face when preserving Slack and linked documents, why we expect our users will appreciate this new capability, and what it heralds for our approach to ediscovery.
The Problem: The Need to Preserve Linked Google Drive Documents That Are Relevant
Part of the appeal of collaboration tools like Slack is their capacity to integrate with other applications. For example, users can add calendar events to their Slack workspaces, connect their project-management tool to see task notifications, and either upload documents or link to cloud-based repositories where documents are retained.
When a user uploads a document to Slack, Slack retains that document in its internal repository. When a preservation tool like Hanzo Hold queries Slack using the Discovery API, it can download and preserve those attached files as well. So far, so good; this is a standard approach for any reasonable preservation and collection method.
However, rather than upload the document directly to Slack, a user may instead opt to link to a Google document that the team is actively collaborating on. The link in the Slack message refers back to a document that is stored in Google Drive. When a user clicks on the link in Slack, the current revision of the document is retrieved.
Several issues emerge when dealing with references to documents, rather than the document itself. Today’s collection tools, as well as Slack’s native export capabilities, are unable to “follow the link” when preserving or collecting Slack messages. As a result, discovery is decidedly inadequate (this is the same issue encountered with email in the era of “modern” attachments). Imagine reviewing a conversation thread about a key contract negotiation, but missing out on the contract itself because the file wasn’t collected from Google Drive.
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Next, collaboration platforms like Google facilitate edits and revisions over time. The conversation may be referring to a particular revision of the document, and you need to preserve that version when preserving the corresponding conversation thread. Typical methodologies at best will capture only the current version of a document when the file is collected, rather than the revision of the file that existed at the time the conversation was occuring.
Another challenge of preserving content from Slack is the need to capture the entire conversation thread. It isn’t just preserving the messages posted by a custodian to a matter, but the entire context of the messages posted by all the other parties in the discussion. Think about that ongoing discussion between custodians concerning a contract, but another person being the one that actually posted the link to the file in their Google drive. If that person isn’t a custodian to the matter, a legal hold applied to custodian documents in Google fails to preserve the necessary file.
Each of these challenges points to the need to capture the conversation in its entirety, including documents referenced but stored elsewhere; files that are integral to the scope of an investigation or discovery request.
The question is, how can you do that in a scalable, repeatable, efficient way?
The Solution: Hanzo Hold’s Follow-the-Link Capability
We’re continuously seeking client feedback to identify new features to add to Hanzo Hold to make its Slack preservation capabilities especially valuable and robust specifically for corporate legal teams who are managing discovery. Follow-the-link is the latest example.
Here’s how it works. Hanzo Hold looks for “strings” that lead outside of Slack to identify additional content that might need to be preserved. If we find a link pointing to a Google document, we’ve now automated the process of reaching out to Google Drive and downloading the version of that document that’s correlated with that moment in time.
When understanding the context for a complete discussion of a topic depends on seeing the document that was at the center of that conversation, you need to see the document that existed then, not the document as it exists months later. That’s what Hanzo Hold’s follow-the-link feature provides.
The Big Picture
Why not just track the correct version down manually? That might be a reasonable approach if you only have one or two linked documents to locate and if those documents haven’t been deleted since they were linked. But as organizations increasingly turn to collaboration tools like Slack to do their essential work, these types of questions will become more frequent and more intensive.
Hanzo is thinking about these issues both broadly and proactively. We’re looking at how our customers need to respond to their preservation obligations and staying one step ahead of problems like this. We’re thinking holistically about how our customers create, use, and share data—and how we can preserve, capture, and protect that data, preserving the fidelity of information that our clients need.
By preserving information automatically, we help our clients mitigate their risks and reduce their costs. We’re solving challenges that others haven’t even seen yet, closing the doors while the horses are still safely inside the barn instead of waiting for a crisis. In the process, we’re exposing the wealth of data that exists in the history of documents. Documents no longer exist as static, unchanging pieces of paper. Now we can see who has edited a draft and every change they’ve made, which gives us a window into the context in which they were working.
So far, our follow-the-link function only works for Google Drive. We started there because we’ve found that it’s a tool that Slack users extensively rely on, but we’re planning to expand this to other document repositories soon.
If you’re not using Hanzo Hold, our purpose-built solution designed specifically for Slack data, you may not be adequately preserving your team’s Slack communications in a format that can be collected and exported into standard review platforms—which means you may be missing out on relevant data in your next ediscovery matter. To learn more or see how it works, contact us to schedule a demonstration.