Information Rights Management (IRM):
IRM is a technology that allows you to specify access permissions to your documents and files. It ensures that only authorised individuals can access and use the document as intended, while also allowing you to control what actions can be performed with the document, such as printing, copying, or forwarding.
Benefits of IRM
Data Protection: IRM helps protect sensitive data from unauthorised access and sharing. This is crucial, especially when sharing confidential legal documents or any sensitive information.
Control: By using IRM policies, the you can define exactly how the document can be used and by whom. This prevents clients from making unauthorised modifications or sharing documents without approval.
Traceability: Watermarking documents with logos and user information provides a layer of accountability. If a document is printed or shared without authorisation, the business can trace it back to the source.
Expiration: Setting an expiration date for document access is particularly useful when sharing time-sensitive information. Once the expiration date is reached, access to the document is automatically revoked.
Considerations When Implementing IRM
User Experience: While protecting documents is important, it’s essential to ensure that the user experience remains smooth. Overly restrictive measures can frustrate users, potentially impacting collaboration.
Communication: It’s important to communicate the use of IRM and its associated policies clearly to clients and collaborators. They should understand why these measures are in place and how they benefit all parties involved.
Exceptions: There might be cases where clients genuinely need to modify or share documents in ways that conflict with the IRM policy. Having a process to handle exceptions while maintaining security is important.
Training: Educate your team and clients about the proper use of IRM and the implications of sharing and handling protected documents.
Regular Review: As technology and security landscapes evolve, it’s essential to regularly review and update your IRM policies to ensure they align with current best practices and regulations.
A law firm and client of BITS Technology Group told us that they have templates for their Wills. On occasion, staff members would take this template and add their own items without having this reviewed by the firm, resulting in a document that represented their business, but without approval or authorisation.
Through using OneDrive or SharePoint and Information Rights Management (IRM), this firm can now confidently send these templates to their clients to fill out whilst maintaining control of the document. They use IRM policy to prevent the client from copying and pasting, printing or otherwise distributing this document further and even adding an expiration date of when the client can access the document. While the client could manually re-type and re-create this information, it is a much larger barrier whilst maintaining ease of access.
This extends to documents you’re sharing internally and externally and enables you to subject entire document libraries to your own company policy. An example is to prevent all externally shared documents from being printed, or if they are printed, to watermark them with your logo and name of the person who printed it so you can trace who printed or otherwise shared the document without approval.
Using IRM features like those provided by OneDrive and SharePoint can be an effective way to maintain control over sensitive documents while still enabling collaboration and ease of access. It’s a powerful tool for modern businesses, particularly those dealing with confidential or proprietary information, like legal firms. Just remember to strike a balance between security and usability to ensure a positive experience for all stakeholders involved.