Re-Thinking Customizable Software

Way back when I was still working in IT for a small company, I remember reading and being involved in decisions about whether buying software like MS Exchange was the safe, easy way to go, or whether you got more bang for your buck by having software and tools that you could customize to your own needs, but that might be buggier, was the more cost-efficient route.

Over time, I made my own decisions about such things. Sometimes I didn’t want something customizable, I just needed it to work, and have reliable tech support. Other times, I liked being able to make adjustments and tweaks that made things work in a specific way that made more sense.

Now that I’m working a bit outside the IT field, I’ve come across a whole different perspective. Now that I’m living and breathing e-Discovery, I’m less concerned with the specifics of how a tool might work and much more concerned with how you get information out of the tool in response to litigation. There are pretty straight-forward ways to handle this when you’re using Exchange, for example. However, if you’re using some other messaging platform, especially one you’ve customized, searching it or getting data out of it in a format that can easily be exchanged with outside counsel, or opposing parties, might just be a problem. It might even become a very expensive problem to overcome.

Does that mean you should always stick with Microsoft, for example? No, not hardly. But as you evaluate products, including cloud-based products, it’s worth considering just how difficult it would be to get your data out of it and whether you can live with the costs associated with doing that.

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