eDiscovery Daily Blog

ESI Cost Budget Calculator – eDiscovery Best Practices

Last month, we discussed budget calculators available from the Metrics section of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) web site.  So far, we have reviewed three budget calculators, the E-Discovery Cost Estimator for Processing and Review, the Doc Review Cost Calculator and the EDRM UTBMS eDiscovery Code Set Calculator. Here is the fourth and final calculator (currently) on the site, the ESI Cost Budget Calculator, provided by Browning Marean, DLA Piper law firm.

As described on the site, this budget calculator estimates costs by project phase. The phases are:

  • ESI Collection
  • ESI Processing
  • Paper Collection and Processing
  • Document Review
  • Early Data Assessment
  • Phase 1 Review
  • Phase 2 Review
  • Production
  • Privilege Review
  • Review of Opposition’s Production
  • Hosting Costs

This single-sheet Excel cost calculator is nice and straightforward.  It covers collection through production, even including a section for review of your opponent’s production and hosting costs (which are becoming more commonplace as more organizations choose cloud-based solutions for their eDiscovery needs).  Two things that I particularly like is that it provides a sequential “line” column to make it easier to refer to a particular line item and also a comments/assumptions column for documenting (what else?) your comments and assumptions.  I also like that all of the numbers are in one column (column C), making it easier to follow the cost computations.  The sheet also includes a header at the top with a place to enter the matter name and date of the estimate.

Suggestions for improvement:

  • As the site indicates, cost calculations, by phase and in total, are shown in the yellow cells.  However, there are several other calculated cells that are in white (the same color as the enterable cells).  It would be easier and clearer to identify the enterable cells if all of the calculated cells were in a different color to differentiate them from the enterable cells (maybe a third color to differentiate them from the cost calculations cells);
  • Protect the sheet and lock down the computed cells (at least in the main sheet) to avoid accidental overwriting of calculations (with the ability to unprotect the sheet if a formula requires tweaking);
  • Tie a pie chart to the numbers to represent the portion of each phase to the total eDiscovery cost for the project.

This workbook would certainly be useful for tracking eDiscovery costs from collection to production, using the metrics appropriate for each section (e.g., custodians and GB for collection, total files and review rate for the review phases, etc.).  It would also be great to update as the phases progress to continue to refine your project estimate.  You can download this calculator individually or a zip file containing all four calculators here.

So, what do you think?  How do you estimate eDiscovery costs?   Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by CloudNine Discovery. eDiscoveryDaily is made available by CloudNine Discovery solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscoveryDaily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.