Key eDiscovery Program Management Takeaways – Program Management Series, Part 8

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A multi-part series on eDiscovery program management issues facing serial litigants, including readiness, resources, service providers, metrics, and more

In the first Part of this series, we reviewed the concept of program management and its benefits.  In the second Part, we discussed the evaluation and improvement of organizational litigation readiness.  In the third Part, we discussed how to evaluate your existing needs and resources.  In the fourth Part, we discussed the available solution models.  In the fifth Part, we discussed the evaluation of eDiscovery service providers.  In the sixth Part, we discussed tracking metrics for program management.  In the seventh Part, we discussed ongoing program maintenance and improvement.

In this final Part, we review the key takeaways from across each topic in the series:

eDiscovery Program Management

  • Program management should be an active concern for those attorneys and other legal department personnel responsible for eDiscovery activities within an organization
  • Effective program management can do even more than effective project management to reduce costs and risks and to increase predictability, consistency, and defensibility
  • The pillars of discovery defensibility are consistency and completeness, both of which are improved by proactive program management

Litigation Readiness

  • The best way to speed up starting discovery activities and to avoid unnecessarily reinventing things project after project is to create written documentation around what needs to be done (policies), how it will be done (processes), and who will do it (roles)
  • Creating and maintaining some form of data map is another step that can save substantial time and effort at the beginning of each new project, allowing you to quickly plan and begin an effectively-targeted collection effort; additionally, knowing all of the potential sources to consider greatly reduces the chances of a relevant source being overlooked
  • Establishing policies that define categories of materials and set appropriate retention periods and procedures for each will ensure that less excess data exists for each project, while also providing you with greater knowledge of what there is and where it is, thereby reducing costs and increasing completeness

Organizational Self-Evaluation

  • Gathering input from stakeholders is typically accomplished through interviews; the stakeholders interviewed need to include representatives of all the different internal and external departments or groups who either consume or provide any part of the eDiscovery services used by the organization
  • While interviews are the most useful for understanding what is done and how it is done, accurate quantification of time, cost, and other details requires review of the relevant personnel and financial records
  • In addition to working with relevant staffing records, budget records, and invoices, you will also need to review eDiscovery project records (to the extent they are available) and records of the organization’s legal matters to quantify data and legal factors

Evaluating Solution Models

  • Bringing one or more eDiscovery activities entirely in house grants the organization the greatest possible control over that activity and how it is executed; the trade-offs for the increased control that comes with insourcing are increased cost and increased responsibility
  • Outsourcing one or more discovery activities to a particular service provider, on the other hand, provides great cost and responsibility benefits; the primary trade-offs of outsourcing are loss of control and loss of efficiency
  • Most organizations opt for some hybrid of the two, aggregating and standardizing all activities, some internally and some externally; currently, organizations most often elect to insource their collection activities

Evaluating Service Providers

  • This is generally accomplished through a Request for Information (“RFI”) process in which a service buyer collects desired information from a group of potential service providers in an organized way to facilitate comparison
  • Cover core service competencies for all service areas under consideration, but consider prioritizing various areas of concern and exploring them in sequential rounds as candidates are eliminated, rather than asking everyone everything all at once
  • Be as clear as possible in your completion instructions, including providing examples where useful, and do not be afraid to dictate the way prices should be presented or to provide a pre-made calculator spreadsheet for respondents to fill out

Management Metrics to Track

  • When the relevant project details are captured across multiple projects in a standardized, normalized way, they reveal additional insights invaluable for proactive program management within an organization
  • Most importantly, tracking key metrics across projects enables you to establish benchmarks for the cost, time, and effectiveness of various tasks, approaches, and service providers (including yourselves) against which future efforts can be gauged
  • Against those benchmarks, goals for incremental, iterative improvement can also then be set and achieved, up to and including the creation of a continuous improvement program

Ongoing Maintenance and Improvement

  • Unfortunately, the establishment of an effective, efficient eDiscovery program is not a one-and-done activity; like all active programs or systems, it requires ongoing maintenance to ensure that it continues to be effective and efficient
  • For an eDiscovery program that means doing things like individual project post-mortems, periodic service provider evaluations (and new RFIs), quarterly or annual program reviews, annual policy process and data map reviews, and quinquennial self-evaluations
  • As your eDiscovery program is improved over time, you may wish to measure your overall organizational progress against the five levels of a capability maturity model, aiming for the maturity level that will have the best ROI for your organization

For Assistance or More Information

Xact Data Discovery (XDD) is a leading international provider of eDiscovery, data management and managed review services for law firms and corporations.  XDD helps clients optimize their eDiscovery matters by orchestrating pristine communication between people, processes, technology and data.  XDD services include forensicseDiscovery processingRelativity hosting and managed review.

XDD offers exceptional customer service with a commitment to responsive, transparent and timely communication to ensure clients remain informed throughout the entire discovery life cycle.  At XDD, communication is everything – because you need to know.  Engage with XDD, we’re ready to listen.

About the Author

Matthew Verga

Director of Education

Matthew Verga is an electronic discovery expert proficient at leveraging his legal experience as an attorney, his technical knowledge as a practitioner, and his skills as a communicator to make complex eDiscovery topics accessible to diverse audiences. A fourteen-year industry veteran, Matthew has worked across every phase of the EDRM and at every level from the project trenches to enterprise program design. He leverages this background to produce engaging educational content to empower practitioners at all levels with knowledge they can use to improve their projects, their careers, and their organizations.

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