More Workflow Design Considerations, Review Fundamentals Series Part 5

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A multi-part series on the fundamentals eDiscovery practitioners need to know about document review planning and execution

In “The Main Event,” we reviewed the costs and significance of review, as well as the question of what gets reviewed.  In “For What It Gets Reviewed,” we discussed the range of determinations that you might want reviewers to be making.  In “Who Does the Reviewing,” we discussed your options for review staffing.  In “Workflow Design Considerations,” we discussed document flow considerations and tagging palette considerations.  In this Part, we continue that discussion with batch creation considerations and tracking, reporting, and documentation considerations.

In the last Part, we reviewed important considerations for making decisions about document flow and tagging palettes for your document review effort.  In this Part, we conclude our workflow design considerations discussion with a look at batch creation and at tracking, reporting, and documentation.

Batch Creation Considerations

In addition to planning your document flow and creating your tagging palette(s), you will also need to make some decisions about how the batches of documents to be reviewed should be assembled:

  • How should your review pool be organized into batches?
    • Depending on your review goals or priorities, you might break up your review pool into batches by custodian, by search term hits, by concept clusters, by chronology, by source type (e.g., batching text messages together, emails together, etc.), or by other factors
  • How should threads and near-duplicates be handled?
    • As we discussed in the first Part of this series, you will need to decide whether you are including or excluding near-duplicates and non-inclusive emails and, if so, you will need to decide whether to keep them grouped together during batch creation
  • How should family groups be handled?
    • As we also discussed in the first Part of this series, you will need to decide whether you are keeping family groups of related records together; if you are planning to produce in complete family groups (most common), it is generally best to create review batches that way too, both for the additional context it provides, and so that all family members get reviewed prior to production
  • How should each batch be sorted?
    • You may also be able to specify the default sorting for the materials within each batch; sorting them chronologically is the most common choice (this can often be done by a family group master date rather than each document’s individual date to maintain family groupings together within the chronological sort)
  • How large should each batch be?
    • Batch size should be selected based on how you want your reviewers to work; it is generally best to keep batch sizes small enough that they can be completed in one or two hours, as error rate increases the longer reviewers go without a mental break; how many documents that is will depend on your documents

Another factor that can affect the speed of your reviewers’ work is the mix of file types and file lengths that they receive in each batch of documents they review.  While the majority of documents are likely to be text documents of moderate length through which they can move at a quick, even pace (e.g., emails and Word documents), some may be multimedia files, large spreadsheets, long PDF documents, or other outliers that will break the rhythm of their work:

  • Having to launch a media player and switch from reading to listening or watching
  • Having to navigate through the rows, columns, and tabs of a large spreadsheet
  • Having to stop to read through 40, 50, or 100 pages of text

If you are running a large, time-sensitive review, it may well be worth making the effort to preemptively filter such files out of the general review pool before batch creation (by file type, file size, etc.).  Once segregated, those rhythm-breakers can then be grouped into their own batches, by type, for separate review.

Tracking, Reporting, and Documentation Considerations

When engaged in design of a review workflow, you will also need to think in advance about the tracking, reporting, and documentation needs you will have during the course of the review.  Generally, you will want some way to track:

  • Your overall progress, your progress against budget, and your rate of progression
    • To project remaining time and cost to completion
  • Your rates of relevance, privilege, redaction needed, etc.
    • To project the production, privilege logging, and redaction work still to be done
  • The speed and accuracy rates of individual reviewers
    • To identify and address misunderstandings and performance issues

Additional metrics may be also tracked for both intra- and inter-project benefits.  Once you’re tracking your chosen metrics, you will also need to generate reports to share and contextualize the important information with relevant team members, client representatives, etc.  Frequency and content is entirely dependent on your needs, but it is common to provide weekly review progress reports, often with some additional reporting done monthly.  Although all of this tracking and reporting can be done manually, most review platforms now include robust features to address these needs.

In addition to tracking and reporting on aspects of your project’s progress, you will also want a plan for documenting decisions about the review project.  In the event that there is a later challenge to your methods and their results, it will be invaluable to have contemporaneous notes or emails documenting why you did what you did the way you did it – both as potential evidence and to refresh your recollection of decisions made months or years before.

Upcoming in this Series

Next, in the final Part of this series, we will look at some fundamentals of quality control.

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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