In the case Pinstripe, Inc. v. Manpower, Inc., 2009 WL 2252131 (N.D. Okla. July 29, 2009), the defendant ran afoul of the litigation hold requirement by relying on a manual form of placing litigation holds, e.g. send litigation hold notices out to affected custodians.
The risk in this process is that 1. you have to send the notice out to all potentially affected custodians and 2. you have to be sure they read and understand the notice.
Many companies lose litigation before it really starts because they can’t effectively stop deletions of potentially responsive ESI.
The only way to insure you can stop ESI deletions when the litigation hold requirement is triggered is to take the management of ESI away from the individual custodians and centrally control it via an archive that captures and secures everything for some period of time.
With this strategy, the ESI can be managed and secured centrally which also allows for instantaneous placement of litigations holds on all potentially responsive ESI.
The key here is to use an ESI archiving system that captures a full ESI data set meaning for example not just email messages but also their attachments, calendar entries, task lists, contacts and attributes.
Also, for those of you that have SharePoint systems, be aware that SharePoint manages many more data type than just a record or document. Make sure you can capture and hold anything the eDiscovery request could ask for in a given ESI system.