eDiscovery Daily Blog

eDiscovery Project Management: The Importance of Good Written Procedures


Even for simple eDiscovery tasks, good written procedures are critical.  They will:

  • Ensure that everyone doing the work understands the task.
  • Cut down or eliminate inconsistencies in the work product.
  • Cut down or eliminate the need for re-work.
  • Foster efficiencies that will help prevent cost over-runs and missed deadlines.
  • Eliminate time spent “reinventing the wheel” each time a task is done.

Written procedures are a good idea for all tasks, but they are especially important for work done by multiple people.  Often procedures are overlooked for simple tasks.  It’s easy to feel comfortable that everyone will do a simple task well.  The problem is that it’s very easy for two people to interpret a task differently.  When you have a large group of people working on a task – for example, a group doing a review of an electronic document collection – the potential for inconsistent work is enormous.

Let me give you some examples of the types of procedures you should be creating:

  • Procedures for gathering potentially responsive documents from your client:  These procedures should include instructions for notifying custodians, for interviewing custodians, for the tools that are to be used, for the types of copies that are to be made, for the storage media to be used, for keeping records of the collection effort, and for delivering data for subsequent processing.
  • Procedures for a document review:  These procedures should include clear, objective criteria for responsiveness and privilege, instructions for using the review tool, instructions for retrieving batches of documents to review, and instructions for resolving questions.

In a perfect world, you would have detailed, written procedures for all of the tasks that you do yourself, and for all of the tasks done by those who report to you.  Unfortunately, most organizations aren’t there yet.  If you don’t have a complete set of procedures yet, create them whenever a task is at hand.  Over time, you will build a library of procedures for the tasks that you handle.  Procedures are not hard to write.  Tomorrow I’ll give you some tips that will serve as a guideline for creating effective procedures.

So, what do you think?  Have you worked on eDiscovery projects where written procedures would have helped?  Please share any comments you might have or tell us if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.