Document Conversion for Electronic Discovery
Electronic discovery, eDiscovery, e-discovery with regards to document conversion is the process of converting documents from their native formats to either PDF or TIFF form. This conversion provides for a common, trusted, and legally accepted platform for the purposes of collecting evidence which is then used to extract and analyze the information using digital forensic procedures.
Organizations that perform electronic discovery have to deal with large volumes of electronic documents and their issue is how to convert them into either PDF or TIFF form usable for evidence analysis.
There are Document Conversion Service software products available on the market and these are specifically designed to help in converting documents from their native formats to TIFF or PDF form. This software, where possible, uses the native documents product in order to perform the conversion. For example, if you have Microsoft Word documents and you need them converted to TIFF form, these Document Conversion Service products will use Microsoft Word to help perform the conversion in order to ensure the document is rendered as expected into TIFF form. Some other converters do not use the original source software and this leads to the document not rendering as it would have if they had just used Microsoft Word.
These types of specialist Document Conversion Service products solve more than just the document conversion issue; it also deals with large volumes. The software can be configured to process many documents in parallel on a system to scale up the document conversion rate. Let’s exaggerate, say you have 50000 documents each 300 pages in length, assuming each 300 page document takes a minute to process one at a time, it would take 50000 minutes (approx. 34 days) to compete all documents. But if you only have a week to do the job so how do you get it done! All you need to do is process 10 documents in parallel and as a result it only takes 5000 minutes (3 to 4 days). So what if you want it done in a day? You have two choices; either run three systems each processing ten documents in parallel or run thirty documents in parallel instead of ten.
As an organization that performs electronic discovery, you might also have standards that require you to control how the document is rendered. For instance, Microsoft Word documents have track changes and these changes have comments. Is it possible to render the document with track changes, without track changes, with the comments in balloons? If the document has auto date, time or file name fields, is it possible to replace them with a constant string value? Is it possible to control the paper, zoom, margins? For most solutions the answer would be no, but not with specialist Document Conversion Service products. As this software is using Microsoft Word to handle the rendering of the document, it is possible to specify how the document is rendered when converted to PDF or TIFF form through settings passed to the product. If the specialist Document Conversion Service application used to help convert the native document has features that can be controlled by the product, these features are configurable during the conversion process.
Another common part of the conversion process when converting documents for electronic discovery purposes is to apply endorsements in the heading or footing regions of the document, sometimes referred to as bates marking but endorsements do not need to be a bates marks. Again, specialist Document Conversion Service products provide the ability to endorse the created PDF or TIFF form of the document.