eDiscovery Daily Blog

Vorys Project Ballpark Cost Estimator for ESI Processing and Review – eDiscovery Best Practices

On Tuesday, we discussed budget calculators available from the Metrics section of the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) web site.  Today, we will begin a more in-depth discussion of the budget calculators, beginning with the E-Discovery Cost Estimator for Processing and Review workbook provided by Julie Brown at Vorys law firm.

As described on the site, this budget calculator contains two worksheets. The Linear-search-analytics worksheet allows users to calculate ballpark cost estimates for processing and review under three “cases” and compare the results. The cases are:

  • Case 1: Full blown processing and linear review
  • Case 2: Search terms used to cull data during processing
  • Case 3: Use analytical culling tool

With each case, users are able to see the cost consequences that result from changing variables such as Data Volume, Volume after culling, and Pre-processing cost/GB.  The cost differences are shown numerically, as well as via two graphs, a 3D horizontal bar graph that shows the cost differences between the three cases (see above graphic for an example) and a 2D horizontal bar graph that shows the cost differences, with a breakdown of processing and review costs for each.

The Linear-size examples worksheet allows users to compare four versions of Case 1. Users are able to see the cost consequences (in both numeric and 2D vertical bar graph form) that result from changing any combination of six variables: Data Volume, Processing Cost/GB, Pages per GB, Docs Reviewed by Hour, Hourly Rate, and FTEs.

Both spreadsheets provide useful information and are well controlled to differentiate the data entry cells (with no fill color in the cell) from the calculation only cells (with a fill color) and the sheets are protected to prohibit accidental overwriting of the calculated cells (the sheets aren’t locked with a password, so you can override it if you want to make adjustments).  The sheet is designed to help you generate a ballpark cost for processing and review based on the variables provided, so it doesn’t include any fixed overhead costs such as software, hardware or facility costs.  It also doesn’t include any management overhead, so it’s essentially a model for variable costs only, but it could be useful to help you determine at what volume an analytical culling tool might pay for itself.

Suggestions for improvement:

  • Create a common section for data entry variables so you don’t have to re-enter them for each comparison case to save time and avoid data inconsistencies;
  • While you’re at it, add variables for pages per document and hours per week – right now, you have to unprotect the sheet and change the formulas if you want to change those variables (not all document sets or work weeks are the same);
  • Add sheets to compare versions of Case 2 and Case 3, like the sheet for Case 1.

Nonetheless, this workbook is quite useful if you want to obtain a ballpark estimate and comparison for processing and review and compare costs for alternatives.  You can download this calculator individually or a zip file containing all four calculators here.  After the first of the year, we will continue our review of the current EDRM budget calculators in more detail.

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.