Migrated from eDJGroupInc.com. Author: Greg Buckles. Published: 2010-10-26 09:30:12  So we assume that your legal department has attended enough CLEs and webinars to know that you cannot keep running each case like it was a one time fire drill. Before you start shopping for the latest software to hit the market, you need to assess your actual needs and capabilities. You cannot just drop an enterprise system into an existing infrastructure without a clear idea of what problem it is supposed to solve, how it will accomplish this, who will use the system, who will maintain the system and what is it dependent on to function. So we can start with how to assess you eDiscovery maturity and needs. There is a new white paper that proposes an eDiscovery Maturity Model on the EDRM site that may give you some good source material.

from the BIA whitepaper - eDiscovery Maturity Model - http://edrm.net/resources/edrm-white-paper-series/the-e-discovery-maturity-model

  • Define your overall corporate litigation and discovery burden. How many open matters? How many new matters last year? Are there easy ways to group the matters? The object is to get an executive view of the overall burden in relationship to your business. How important is this? This proportional burden assessment can help you when you are investigating out-sourced or SaaS options.
  • Profile a recent case(s) – How long from preservation to resolution? Do you have a total discovery cost? Can it be broken down? Can you extract the top 3 cost or risk drivers? How large was the initial collection? How large was the production? What was the potential liability? How complex was the matter? If you have identified dominant litigation categories, try to do this exercise for each major type of eDiscovery that you consistently face. Define your steady state burden, do not base your decisions on the bet-the-company cases, unless you get those every year. In which case, find another job unless you are an adrenaline junkie.
  • Identify and prioritize your data sources. Highlight relative eDiscovery cost and risks associated with them. Do not try to tackle everything at once. Go for the highest priority sources where you can achieve the greatest ROI immediately.
  • Inventory the technologies used for eDiscovery along with their relative cost, effort, risk and other comments. This should help you understand your current tools and spot weaknesses, overlap and gaps.
  • Break down your inventory into features/functions and rate them as critical, important and bonus features. This will be used later to support your technical requirements list.
  • Create an eDiscovery organizational team structure, including your outside counsel and service providers. For each role identified, rate the current technical and legal expertise (Novice, Average, Experienced, Expert). It may not be pleasant, but your current expertise is one of the greatest potential roadblocks to successfully implement new technology into your overall business process. This is one place where an outside perspective can be essential.
  • Assess your WRITTEN eDiscovery protocols and tracking documentation. If it is not written down, do not count on it. Get a rough measurement of what percentage of activities have a standard, written protocol and are tracked. Great employees who are stuck in fire fighting mode will never have the time to properly document their heroics.
  • Poll other top stakeholders in records management, compliance, data security, IT and more to determine if they have related pain points or may even have other initiatives already in motion. Do not let your eDiscovery requirements get too tangled up in fights over retention and back up schedules, but engage stakeholders and see if the budget can be properly funded by the business units that generate the litigation in the first place.

This kind of self-assessment should help to identify and prioritize your critical cost and risk factors in proportion to your overall eDiscovery burden. Now you can take that large list of functions/features and transform it into a real RFI. Don’t get tricked into assuming that you know what kind of technology solution you need until you really understand your own people, process and requirements. It is easy to buy a Land Rover when you really need a Hyundai for your daily commute. Legal should be involved in the acquisition of enterprise archiving, information management and retention related systems, but these should support your business processes as well as meet your requirements for preservation and collection.

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