I thought this was a good introduction to e-discovery project management. Enjoy!
Recently, Techlaw recorded a few videos at Legal Tech NY with industry experts covering a wide range of e-discovery topics. This video addresses e-discovery project management.
It’s been over five years since the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were revised to clearly instruct and encourage litigators to engage early in managing electronically stored information. I’ve been in the litigation support industry since 1995 and project management skills have always been important to the success of litigation matters for which technology was involved. The Sedona Conference published a proclamation a few years ago stating the value of cooperation and project management methodology best practices in e-discovery. Recently, I shared this article outlining the value of project management with my students and thought you might like to read it as well. Here are the key points with my commentary… you can read the whole article here.
The value proposition for project management goes something like this. It takes time and effort to proactively manage a project. This cost is more than made up for over the life of the project by:
- Completing projects more quickly and cheaply. – Cost and litigation budgets in general are typically the focus of the client. Most corporations have project managers within their business model and expect that their lawyers and legal teams do also. It’s not just about being quick and cheap but more so about not wasting time and money.
- Being more predictable. How can we predict costs and schedules if every litigation or e-discovery project reinvents the wheel? Project documentation includes metrics.
- Saving effort and cost with proactive scope management. How much data (ESI) do we need to review? How much of it is relevant? What tools and resources exist to help us only review what we need to? An experienced e-discovery project manager can help you to navigate these waters.
- Better solution “fit” the first time through better planning. –
My motto in litigation support has always been: The tools are not as important as the process. Define your process, then select the right tool for the job.
- Resolving problems more quickly. Project management includes a communications and problem solving plan/ protocol.
- Resolving future risk before the problems occur.
Experience and metrics will allow you to assess risks and plan a solution or solution options in advance.
- Communicating and managing expectations with clients, team members and stakeholders more effectively. Managing expectations is a big deal. This is extremely difficult to do without the guidance of a project manager and a documented plan of action.
- Building a higher quality product the first time. Improved financial management. This article is targeted to an audience of software developers but this sentiment applies in e-discovery, too. Think: document production.
- Stopping “bad” projects more quickly. If a project is being effectively managed, someone will notice a problem before it turns into a train wreck.
- More focus on metrics and fact-based decision making. Decisions based in facts derived from well documented metrics will provide the consistency of methodology, the courts are looking for.
- Improved work environment. Who doesn’t want to work with a bunch of happy people?
People who complain that project management is a lot of ‘overhead’ forget the point. All projects are managed. The question is how effectively they are managed.
A lot can be said for the value of project management in e-discovery… if you don’t have a project manager on your litigation team don’t worry, you can learn… keep reading this blog. 😉
Learning about project management methodologies may seem a bit overwhelming at times but if you start out simply with an Excel spreadsheet or a notebook/ legal pad, the basics can be achieved. Project management is really about keeping track of what you did and planning what you are going to do.
Here are some tips from a recent article by Brett Burney, an industry expert on e-discovery project management:
You can document your actions on a Word document, an Excel spreadsheet, a yellow legal pad, or using one of the tools mentioned above. It doesn’t matter the medium, as long as it’s being done and can be referred to at a later date.
At a minimum, a documentation protocol should include:
- client, matter, and task;
- who requested the task (e.g., stakeholder, lawyer, client);
- date and time the task was started and completed;
- name of person who engaged or completed the task;
- notes, summary, problems encountered, resolutions;
- software and hardware used; and
- chain-of-custody considerations (where were the results delivered?).
What advice do you have for someone just getting started in e-discovery project management?