eDiscovery Daily Blog

eDiscovery Project Management: Effectively Manage Service Providers — Upfront Communication


Some of the tasks that you manage may be better handled by a service provider.  A service provider may be able to deliver high quality work on a schedule that might be impossible for you to meet.  This doesn’t mean that you need to give up control of a project.  In fact, you shouldn’t.  A good service provider will encourage you to stay involved and to communicate frequently with them throughout the project. 

Good, two-way communication is critical.  It needs to start up front — during initial conversations with a service provider – and continue through the life of a project.

Before a project starts, discuss these things with the service provider you’ll be working with:

  • Project scope and requirements:  A good service provider will tell you what information they need so they can give you good price and schedule information.  Sometimes, the best information you’ll have will be ‘guestimates’ – in that case, you need to recognize that there are limits to how accurate cost and schedule information will be.
  • Expected project costs:  Most service providers will provide you with unit pricing for the work they do.  In addition, talk to them about estimated total project costs based on project parameters that you provide.  A good service provider does not want any cost components to be a surprise any more than you do. 
  • Project schedule:  Make sure the service provider clearly understands your schedule requirements and find out what they need from you (and by when) to meet those requirements.  Talk to them about the mechanisms they have in place for increasing project resources if the schedule starts slipping, and their policies regarding notifying you if a deadline is going to be missed.
  • Invoicing and status reports:  It’s a good idea to look at sample invoices and status reports in advance, before a project starts.  Most likely, you’ll be responsible for reviewing and signing off on these documents, so it’s a good idea to review them first and ensure that you understand them.
  • Getting in touch with the service provider.  Ask a service provider to provide you with contact information for project and management personnel involved in your project.  You want to be able to reach the right people quickly when a new project requirement or issue arises.

In the next issue, we’ll be talking about working effectively with a service provider throughout the live of a project.

What do you think?  Do you have thoughts on effectively communicating with service providers?  Please share any comments you might have or tell us if you’d like to know more about a topic.