Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Mikki Tomlinson. Published: 2012-01-09 10:30:05  Have you ever received a detailed project estimate from a service provider and wondered how they came up with it?  I have.  Unless you provided them your client specific data assumptions, they likely used “industry standards” to fill in the blanks.  Hmmm.  Where did these industry standards come from and how accurate are they?Some time ago it dawned on me that I don’t know the source of the industry standards used for e-discovery metric measurements (e.g., gigabytes per custodian, rate of deduplication and expansion, etc.).  Frankly, it has not been relevant to me since I learned early in my career the value of understanding and utilizing client-specific metrics.  However, there was a time that I did rely on industry standards.  The realization that these industry standards are a mystery to me compelled me to analyze my experience in blindly relying on them versus client-specific data, as well as dig in and find the source.I am clearly not the only one interested in this topic, as evidenced by the discussions, publications and industry projects in this area.  John Tredennick wrote a very interesting and informative blog on the topic last summer (recommended read – also provides links to other informative resources); there have been discussions on industry list-serves; and the EDRM’s Metrics Project mission is to “provide an effective means of measuring the time, money and volumes associated with e-discovery activities.”So, back to the original question: on what basis are your e-discovery projects being estimated?  Service providers typically have their own e-discovery calculators.  There are also a great number of e-discovery project calculators available publicly (there is even an app for that!).  I will not point to any specific resource here, but you can easily find them with a Google search.  The good news is that the majority of these  resources caveat that volumes in an electronic collection can vary wildly based on a multitude of factors.  However, they all seem to default to an industry standard when no client specific information is provided (e.g., 10,000 documents per gigabyte, 50 document review decisions perhour).  In my research and in my experience, I have found consistency in the industry standards used.  What I have not found, however, is thesupporting evidence for these metrics.  Further in my experience, when compared to actual client data these metrics have been far from reality, which significantly affects spend. (By way of example, if you change the number of documents per gigabyte from 10,000 to 1,000 the per  document cost increases monumentally if you are paying by the gigabyte.)In its Metrics Project, the EDRM is seeking input of statistics from the industry to aggregate and publish realistic averages (per 08/23/2011Yahoo! litsupport list serve discussion). I am happy to see this effort and anxiously await the results.  Thank you, EDRM!  I am hopeful that as an industry we can come up with fact-based standards.Even after all of my research, I still do not know how the current industry standards were established.  But what I can say is that considering the number of factors involved in the volume, time and cost associated with e-discovery projects, I firmly believe that – even if we can come up with fact-based standards – understanding data at the client (or at least industry or matter type) level is, by far, superior.Please join me in a deeper discussion of e-discovery metrics as I moderate with a Metrics_Expert_Panelists in the upcoming webinar How toMake Your Metrics Meaningful, which will focus on the value of metrics, how to capture, and how to apply same.  I expect this to be a very educational and lively discussion as the topic is a hot one for the moderator and the panelists.  This webinar will provide insight and practical application tips to service provider, in-house, and law firm practitioners.

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