You’re at a dinner party making light conversation. The question comes up… what do you do? What do you say? Do you frighten the person you’re talking to by telling them that their company’s attorneys are listening to their deleted voice mail messages or that the IT folks are crawling the network and searching their email for “key words?”
Okay, let’s try another scenario… what do you tell your family that you do? How do you describe litigation support or electronic discovery to them?
Okay, let’s try one more… and this one will lead us to a discussion on managing expectations…. the hardest part of being an electronic discovery project manager… When you run into one of the attorneys or paralegals in the hallway, elevator or breakroom… what do you tell THEM that you do? Is it easier to explain because they have some context with which to understand litigation and discovery?
Managing Expectations on e-Discovery Projects
To successfully manage the expectations of your project sponsors and stakeholders on an e-discovery project, you must first communicate clearly what your role (and theirs) is on the project. I would begin with a general perspective of what your role is with the firm and your litigation support department’s mission statement or charter. This can easily be accomplished at a project launch meeting.
The role of the e-discovery project manger in today’s environment is very similar to that of a business analyst. Whether you are communicating directly with your firm’s corporate client (legal department) or with your friends and family, many people understand how a business analyst / project manager can bridge the gap between the business objectives and the technology.
The initial project planning meeting must include defining everyone’s role on the project as well as the plan for communication. We will discuss project roles and functions as well as more communication best practices in later posts. First, you might want to practice your “elevator speech” so that you will be ready to manage stakeholder expectations for your next project.