The unsophisticated, unorganized small business is all too familiar – paper records yellowing from age, the vanilla box computer that only reads a ﬁve-inch ﬂoppy disk (remember those?) and of course the green font tube monitor!
Think twice before you assume that an unsophisticated small business cannot possibly have any useful or accessible electronically stored information (ESI).
Consider this question: does the business have any printed documents? Most of the time the answer is yes and chances are those documents were created by some form of technology that potentially possesses valuable ESI.
The quest for relevant forensic evidence in determining damages, especially lost proﬁts, in a small business usually presents unique challenges in retrieving and utilizing ESI.
In fact, many small business owners and managers, as well as their attorneys are unaware of the types of ESI available that could be the key to their case. Persistence, creativity, and knowledge are necessary to unlock the potential of small business ESI.
Three primary challenges are often encountered with small business ESI:
- The information may be stored, entered, or utilized on archaic hardware and/or software.
- The owner and employees may be unaware of the type and extent of data that is present on their system. They are often adamant that no useful ESI is available from their system because they have had diﬃculty or even failed in trying to extract information. This leads the employees and the owner to conclude that relevant information is just not available.
- Small businesses generally have limited resources and their personnel usually do not have the expertise to extract relevant useful data from an outdated system.
Next week, we’ll blog about a true case example that demonstrates how these challenges can come into play with small business ESI.
Adapted from: “Unlocking the Potential of Electronically Stored Information in Damages Cases.” Dunn on Damages – The Economic Damages Report for Litigators and Experts 4 (2011): 20-21. For more information, visit http://www.valuationproducts.com/dunn.html