Information Management

eDiscovery Project Management: Applying Project Management Techniques to Electronic Discovery

All too often, electronic discovery projects fall apart. Deadlines are missed, costs exceed estimates, work product is flawed, and there aren’t good records of what was done. These problems can result in costs and hours that can’t be billed, dissatisfied clients, and in really bad situations, sanctions imposed by the court.

In so many cases, the problems can be avoided – or at least minimized – if basic, “common sense” project management techniques are applied. Project Management is not complicated or difficult. It is simply applying common sense principles to the projects that we handle.

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to talk about common sense project management techniques and how they can – and should – be applied to electronic discovery projects. We’ll cover several areas:

  • Planning a project: Identifying the tasks that need to be done, putting together a “big picture” plan, and creating schedules and budgets for each task.
  • Creating procedures: Why are documented procedures important and how do you prepare effective procedures?
  • Assembling the right team: Who should do the work on a given task and how do you determine that?
  • Training the team: Why is training important and what should be covered?
  • Doing effective quality control: Why are quality control reviews important, how should they be done, and how often should they be done?
  • Monitoring the work: How do you ensure that you’re on schedule and within budget for a project?
  • Reporting: What kind of reporting should be done and how often?
  • Effectively managing your staff: Some quick tips for getting good work from your staff.
  • Effectively managing external resources: What can you do before a project starts, at the start of a project, and throughout a project to ensure that service providers are meeting schedules, budgets and quality requirements?
  • Effectively managing your time: Some quick tips for managing your time so you’ll be as productive and effective as possible.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin talking about “big picture” planning for the overall project. See you then!

In the meantime, what do you think? Know any project management “horror stories”? Are there any specific project management areas you are having trouble with? Please share any comments you might have or let us know if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

eDiscovery Best Practices: Cost of Data Storage is Declining – Or Is It?

Recently, I was gathering information on the cost of data storage and ran across this ad from the early 1980s for a 10 MB disk drive – for $3,398! That’s MB (megabytes), not GB (gigabytes) or TB (terabytes). What a deal!

Even in 2000, storage costs were around $20 per GB, so an 8 GB drive would cost about $160.

Today, 1 TB is available for $100 or less. HP has a 2 TB external drive available at Best Buy for $140 (prices subject to change of course). That’s 7 cents per GB. Network storage drives are more expensive, but still available for around $100 per TB.

At these prices, it’s natural for online, accessible data in corporations to rise exponentially. It’s great to have more and more data readily available to you, until you are hit with litigation or regulatory requests. Then, you potentially have to go through all that data for discovery to determine what to preserve, collect, process, analyze, review and produce.

Here is what each additional GB can cost to review (based on typical industry averages):

  • 1 GB = 20,000 documents (can vary widely, depending on file formats)
  • Review attorneys typically average 60 documents reviewed per hour (for simple relevancy determinations)
  • That equals an average of 333 review hours per GB (20,000 / 60)
  • If you’re using contract reviewers at $50 per hour – each extra GB just cost you $16,650 to review (333×50)

That’s expensive storage! And, that doesn’t even take into consideration the costs to identify, preserve, collect, and process each additional GB.

Managing Storage Costs Effectively

One way to manage those costs is to limit the data retained in the first place through an effective records management program that calls for regular destruction of data not subject to a litigation hold. If you’re eliminating expired data on a regular basis, there is less data to go through the EDRM discovery “funnel” to production.

Sophisticated collection tools or first pass review tools (like FirstPass™, powered by Venio FPR™) can also help cull data for attorney review to reduce those costs, which is the most expensive component of eDiscovery.

So, what do you think? Do you track GB metrics for your eDiscovery cases? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.