One of the ways you can ensure success for any type of project (including an e-discovery project) is by making sure that you have the right people doing the tasks that they are best suited to do and do well. Today, I want to explore how to successfully define the project team roles for litigation / e-discovery projects. I will begin by saying that we can not rely or depend on the traditional roles: attorney, paralegal, litigation support specialist, project assistant, secretary, IT person (which could be application specialist, network engineer, help desk specialist) or trainer.
Traditional project management roles include: sponsor, team leader, SME (subject matter expert), project manager, stake holder… these don’t exactly work either.
It is going to be important to define who’s doing what and when before litigation strikes or at the very latest, very early in the case. The EDRM describes the project management team to include the corporate client, the law firm and the service provider (vendor). Within each organization someone is identified as the project manager. However, what happens next gets pretty fuzzy because then everyone wants to fall back on their traditional roles or job titles to define the project team roles.
So how can we take the standard list of project team roles and the traditional law firm/client/vendor relationship and redesign it to work better for e-discovery projects?
There is an increasing trend in the industry today that is looking for the attorney in charge to take on the role of project leader so as to enforce quality control and avoid sanctions. How does this trend help us to understand and define clear team roles?
Do you have to be a techie to manage a litigation support or e-discovery project? Some experts in the PM world would say no, but you do need to have an understanding of what the technology can do, should do and does best.
If you are the project leader? Can you successfully delegate tasks to others on the team? Communicating and discussing everyone’s strengths up front will enable successful task delegation and role identification.
Now that we’ve given this some thought, let’s create our project team checklist:
- Determine the roles & responsibilities you will need to complete your e-discovery project successfully
- Consider your team’s strengths and weaknesses
- Create a “Roles & Responsibilities” Matrix (fill it in, share with whole team, everyone knows what’s expected of them)
- Keep in mind that everyone on your team may not be employed by your organization (the client, outside counsel, service provider, consultant)
What do you think are the key roles that are necessary for every e-discovery project? Which are optional? Should the partner in charge be the project leader?