eDiscovery Daily Blog

How Much Will it Cost? – eDiscovery Best Practices

By far, the most important (and, therefore, the most asked) question asked of eDiscovery providers is “How much will it cost?”.  Actually, you should be asking a few questions to get that answer – if they are the right questions, you can actually get the answer you seek.

With these questions, you can hopefully prevent surprises and predict and control costs:

  • What is the Unit Price for Each Service?: It’s important to make sure that you have a clear understanding of every unit price the eDiscovery provider includes in an estimate.  Some services may be charged per-page or per-document, while others may be charged per gigabyte, and others may be charged on an hourly basis.  It’s important to understand how each service is being charged and ensure that the price model makes sense.
  • Are the Gigabytes Counted as Original or Expanded Gigabytes?: For the per gigabyte services, it’s also important to make sure that you whether they are billed on the original GBs or the expanded GBs.  Expanded GBs can be two to three times as large (or more) as the original GBs.  Some services are typically billed on the original GBs (or at least the unzipped GBs) while others are typically billed on the expanded GBs.  It’s important to know which metric is used; otherwise, your ESI collection may be larger than you think and you may be in for a surprise when the bill comes.
  • Will I Get an Estimate in Advance for Hourly Billed Services?: When you ask for specific hourly billed services from the provider (such as professional consulting or technician services) to complete a specific task, it’s important to get an estimate to complete that task as well as advanced notification if the task will require more time than estimated.
  • What Incidental Costs are Billed?: It’s not uncommon (or unreasonable) for incidentals like project management, supplies and shipping to be included in invoices.  In particular, project management services can be an important component to the services provided by the eDiscovery provider.  But, the rates charged for these incidentals can vary widely.  Understanding what incidentals are being billed and the rates for those services is important to controlling costs.
  • If Prices are Subject to Change, What is the Policy for Those Changes and Notification of Clients?: Let’s face it, prices do change, even in the eDiscovery industry.  In ongoing contracts, most eDiscovery providers will retain the right to change prices to reflect the cost of doing business (whether they exercise those rights or not).  It’s important to know the terms that your provider has set for the ability to change prices, what the notification policy is for those price changes and what your options are if the provider exercises that right.

With the right questions and a good understanding of your project parameters, you can get to the answer to that elusive question “How much will it cost?”.

So, what do you think?  How do you manage costs with your eDiscovery providers?  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.