3 Critical Areas for Choosing the Right eDiscovery Platform and Partner
At Venio, we’re experiencing a number of partner renewals and new partnerships right now. As we’ve been working with these partners, several things have come up repeatedly. This got us thinking about what makes the right partnership for the end user of an eDiscovery platform. What are the critical considerations when choosing a partner for such a crucial function of any law firm or business? We have narrowed it down to three critical areas – finding the right solution for your specific needs at the right time with the right amount of support.
1: RIGHT SOLUTION
You may have expected this post to begin by discussing software, but there are higher level considerations before you get to a technology solution. Each organization has differing needs that necessitate the use of an eDiscovery platform, so you need to make sure you understand your business’ specific needs and processes around investigations and litigation before seeking a solution. Perhaps you are a highly regulated industry like banking or Big Pharma with the need to ensure that transactions, documentation, and communications are tracked and reviewed by an internal team on a regular basis.
On the other hand, you may be a law firm that handles intellectual property or white-collar crime cases where the data is not even allowed to be connected to the internet, much less stored in the cloud. Even smaller organizations or law firms that may not have had to deal with large amounts of electronically stored information (ESI) are increasingly having to handle larger pools of data that necessitate the need for an eDiscovery platform. Understanding the specific needs of your company or firm will affect the type of solution you seek.
Fully Managed eDiscovery Services
The very first considerations focus on the specific needs and expertise within your firm or business. Not every organization has large litigation support or investigatory team with the expertise needed to properly manage an eDiscovery project or major investigation and all the risks and considerations around properly handling and processing the data involved. The stakes around eDisovery are too high for it to be left to chance. In this case, the managed services model may be the most appropriate solution.
Venio has a wide network of long-standing eDiscovery service providers as our business partners. Even if you are going to use a service provider, it’s important that you have the knowledge to best manage that relationship in order to minimize your frustration and expenses. To help, Venio regularly taps into the knowledge of our partners to help educate the community about how to better handle their data, cases, and investigations.
Some eDiscovery service providers only offer one technology solution while others offer multiple solutions to their clients. You need to be aware of what those solutions are, so that you can ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck from your service provider and that their solutions are properly aligned with your specific needs.
For example, VenioOne is an end-to-end unified solution, whereas some solutions only handle part of the eDiscovery process and require other platforms for performing tasks such as review, meaning your data will be moving from one platform to another. That may affect data integrity and the ability to show the chain of custody of the data. If you have specific security needs (who doesn’t these days), then you need to feel comfortable that the vendor is meeting those needs.
Additionally, different vendors have different licensing and storage models, which could lead to increased costs. Even if you are going the managed services route, you will want to dig deep into the provider’s background, capabilities, and solutions being used on your behalf.
Partially Managed eDiscovery Services
The second option is a fairly common one. It is a hybrid solution where the business or firm does some eDiscovery functions or handles certain types of matters in-house and then uses a service provider for others. Again, knowing your business’ specific needs and capabilities will determine what type of hybrid solution is best for you.
For example, you may wish to process data and perform early case assessments in-house and then outsource managing the review and production to a provider. Conversely, you may wish for the service provider to do the heavy lifting on the front end and prepare the data and environment for review by your in-house team. With a partially managed solution, it is critical to understand and define what the responsibilities, technology, and workflows will be.
One innovation that may affect this division of labor is VenioOne OnDemand, our self-service solution, which puts more of the control in the hands of the end users within law firms or businesses. Even our law firm and corporate clients handling everything in-house are using OnDemand to enable remote offices and collaborate with third parties involved in their matters.
Fully In-House eDiscovery Services
Finally, if you are going to manage the eDiscovery function in-house, you will be responsible for finding the technology solution that best matches your needs. Some basic considerations that will help you find the right solution for your business or firm are:
- What parts of the EDRM Model does the solution provide? If it is not an end-to-end unified solution like VenioOne, you will need to understand what parts it provides.
- Where will your data be stored?
- Can your data be housed in the cloud or must it be kept on-premises, and does the vendor provide the storage solution you need?
- Do you require your data to be stored in a specific geographic region?
- What are the licensing costs for the technology platform?
- What will the data storage costs be?
- What will the per user costs be?
- What sort of user management does the platform support for segmenting rights and access?
- What are your remote access needs and does the vendor meet those, as well as your security requirements?
- What specific types of data will you be reviewing and does the solution handle those types of data? For example, examining mobile and social media data is becoming a more common requirement.
- Does the solution offer advanced technologies like machine learning-based predictive coding or continuous active learning?
- What sort of reporting and analytics does the solution provide?
- Does the solution scale if data volumes need to be increased for a specific case?
- What are the processing speeds for the specific data volumes you will handle?
- What forms of output does the solution provide for exporting or producing data?
2: Right Time
Before considering a solution, it is important to determine whether now is the right time for you to make a change. Any partner that you choose should respect your decision about whether the time is right for you, your team, and your organization.
Any change to your eDiscovery or investigation platform or partner will necessitate taking the time to review what’s working and what isn’t in your current setup. Technology changes rapidly, and it has likely been years since you have done a detailed review of how well your current processes and tools are working for you. Therefore, your needs have likely changed, so you need to take the time to define what your current needs are. After all, if you don’t know what your specific needs are, how can you evaluate whether a solution meets them?
Don’t decide to look at different solutions right before your current eDiscovery platform or service provider contract(s) are up, because you won’t have time to adequately review your options. You will want to allow plenty of time for reviewing new solutions and tools that may be available now that were not in the past. Be sure to allow time for first round demos, second round demos, selecting a few solutions to test, and testing of those solutions. Why do you need two rounds of demos? When doing the first round of demos, you will likely see features and workflows that you haven’t considered. Therefore, you will need a second round of demos, so you can ask any additional questions that arise during the first round of demos and dig a little deeper into the differentiators between providers and platforms.
Finally, you will need time to learn to use the new solutions and adequately test a narrowed down list of finalists. All of this is being done on top of your normal workload, so ensure that everyone involved is committed to the process and willing to participate on a reasonable schedule. You will need to run similar tests on each option, so you can compare apples to apples.
On top of the time to review and select a solution, you will need to determine how the change over will be handled. For instance, will you keep your current solution active and put new cases or investigations into the new solution or will you migrate the data from your existing solution(s) to the new solution? Either method will involve time and planning in order for it to be successful. Needless to say, you don’t want this to be happening at critical times in any major cases or investigations.
Beyond the data, there is also the need for training in a new solution and time for those using the system to get more comfortable. No matter how much training you have, it will take time for you to be able to utilize a new solution with the speed and efficiency you have developed over time with your current solution(s). Mastery takes time, so have realistic expectations of yourself and others.
Some important questions to consider regarding timing are:
- Do we have the time to adequately vet new solutions we are considering?
- What sort of testing environment/training will be provided and how long will we have to test?
- Will we be moving all data to the new solution or only active cases or investigations? How much time will that require?
- Are there cases or investigations that will be at a critical stage during the transition to a new solution? How will those be handled?
- Do we have the budget to extend our existing platform license(s) during the transition phase?
- What type of onboarding and resources does the vendor provide to get your team familiar with the software?
- Will you need additional contract/temp help during the transition phase or overtime by your current team?
3: Right Support
An important part of vetting and considering a new eDiscovery Platform or investigation solution should be understanding the support that will be provided both during the transition and after you are up and running. Support goes beyond just answering questions or dealing with any issues that may arise. It also entails the amount of training and hand-holding that will be available as you are testing and begin using a new solution. You need to know that your provider will be there when you need them. Sometimes this part of the solution is not given adequate time or consideration, so be sure that you understand clearly how your needs will be met. Ask for references and thoroughly vet them.
Another critical part of support is the development of the platform to meet your changing needs over time. Be sure that you understand how a provider shares insight into their development roadmap and what role user requests play in the development of the platform. Additionally, determine whether there will be additional charges for new features as they are developed.
For example, VenioOne is updated monthly and resources about the changes in the software are documented in an intro video and our user guides. Many of the enhancements are made based on requests. Updates are offered free of charge to our customers, but never forced on the users of VenioOne, because you know your needs and when the time is right for an update. If updates are not happening regularly and there is a charge for them, those should be red flags.
To get at what support will be provided over time, ask questions like:
- What training and hand-holding will be available during the transition phase?
- What support will be available after we are up and running?
- Is there additional training provided as we get comfortable with the platform?
- How often is your software updated? What resources are provided with updates?
- Is there a charge for updates to your software?
- Are clients ever forced to install updates?
- What percentage of updates come from customer requests?
WHAT VENIO PARTNERS ARE SAYING
Another thing that will give you a real insight into a potential partner is to look at what their existing customers and partners are saying about them. Request references and be sure to vet them. Below are just a few things from some recent press releases from our partners. If you’re not seeing something similar from providers you are considering, that may be a warning that you should look elsewhere.
- “…give clients the control and convenience that so many within the legal profession have been seeking.”
- “…our clients have more control over their data; they can upload, process, review and produce data through a user-friendly interface…”
- “We looked at all the tools on the market and kept coming back to Venio because of their technology, commitment to customer service, and visionary roadmap for development.”
- “…an infinitely scalable solution that outperforms our competition while saving our clients’ money.”
- “…seamlessly connects the human expert with world class machine learning, interactive visual analytics, and traditional eDiscovery capabilities.”
- “…streamline their investigative and eDiscovery workflows while providing more control over their annual eDiscovery spend.”
- “…creates new opportunities for firms, corporations, agencies, and providers to scale and grow their businesses at whatever pace they need.”