eDiscovery Daily Blog

“How Much Will it Cost?” is Not Necessarily the Right Question to Ask: eDiscovery Best Practices

This is a topic we covered last fall, but it has come up again several times with clients (and prospective clients) recently and since we have so many new viewers and subscribers in the past couple of months (thanks to our recently announced education partnership with EDRM and some very kind words from Craig Ball on his excellent Ball in Your Court blog), it bears discussing again.

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 Other Costs are Billed?: It’s not uncommon for other charges to be included in invoices, such as user fees for hosting services (not all hosting providers charge user fees, so it’s important to comparison shop) or project management, which can be an important component to the services provided by the eDiscovery provider. And, don’t forget charges for supplies and shipping. The rates charged for these services can vary widely, from non-existent to exorbitant. Understanding what other costs 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. eDiscovery Daily is made available by CloudNine solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Daily should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.