eDiscovery Daily Blog

Working Successfully with eDiscovery and Litigation Support Service Providers: The Evaluation Process


Sometimes selecting a service provider for a project will be a quick, easy process.  You may have a small project — similar to others you’ve handled — that you need to get up and running quickly.   If you have a list of good vendors with which you’ve worked, it may be as easy as a phone call or two to check availability and you’ll be all set.  In other cases, your selection process may be more involved.  Perhaps you are looking to build a preferred vendor program or you’ve got a large case involving many stakeholders who are looking for a thorough evaluation.  When a thorough evaluation is needed, here’s a suggested approach:

  1. Make a list of candidates:  Include vendors that have done a good job for you in the past.   Ask peers in the industry for suggestions.  In some cases, stakeholders may ask you to consider vendors with which they have a relationship.
  2. Make initial calls:  Call each vendor to get general information, to ensure they don’t have a conflict of interest, and to gauge their availability and interest in the project.  Revise the list if necessary.
  3. Send out Request for Proposal (RFP) / Request for Information (RFI):  In the next posts in this series, we’ll talk about these documents, so stay tuned.
  4. Review the responses.  Check the responses for completeness.  If there are holes, you can request missing information, or you might consider scratching a vendor from the list if there was blatant disregard for the requirements. 
  5. Follow-up:  You’ll probably have questions about every proposal, and you’ll want to clarify some points with each vendor.  And, there may be some points you’ll want to negotiate.  Even if a proposal is clear and doesn’t require an explanation, it’s useful to verify your understanding of approach and pricing.
  6. Rank each vendor:  List each evaluation point by importance, and rank each vendor for each point.  While this is an important step and a valuable tool, don’t let it replace good judgment.  Sometimes your instincts may tell you something different than the rankings do, and that should not be ignored!
  7. Check references for the vendors of most interest.  Later in this series, we’ll talk about effectively checking references.
  8. Make your selection (or your recommendation to the stakeholders).
  9. Notify the vendor you’ve selected and agree to a contract.
  10. Contact the other vendors and tell them they were not selected.

What has been your experience with evaluating and selecting service providers?  Please share any comments you might have and let us know if you’d like to know more about an eDiscovery topic.