eDiscovery is a fast-moving process with many moving parts. It’s common for legal teams to miss small details when managing electronically stored information (ESI), especially when they’re dealing with multiple cases.
Unfortunately, when legal teams miss important details during eDiscovery, the results can be catastrophic. Small mistakes can lead to hefty fines, penalties, and court losses. As such, legal teams need to be very careful when managing eDiscovery and handling ESI.
Given that eDiscovery is so complex, managers need to consider strategies that simplify operations and enhance communication. And one of the best ways to accomplish this is with project management. Approaching eDiscovery from a project management perspective is a guaranteed way to reduce risks and achieve stronger results. Keep reading to learn how project management applies to eDiscovery.
What Is eDiscovery Project Management?
One of the top reasons eDiscovery teams fail to meet their objectives is because they lack a formal process for tracking and managing ESI. But with a robust eDiscovery project management strategy in place, this task becomes much easier.
In this case, a project refers to a temporary mission or goal that results in a specific outcome. Projects have a beginning and end, although the duration can vary, depending on the scope and goal.
Through an eDiscovery lens, project management refers to the process of discovering, organizing, securing, and communicating ESI for audits, investigations, and legal proceedings. Project management is critical for ensuring speedy, accurate, and cost-effective eDiscovery.
How Project Managers Help With eDiscovery
The project manager is like the head coach of an eDiscovery team. It’s their job to form a plan, communicate project updates and deadlines, and see that individual members meet expectations. At the end of the day, the project manager takes full responsibility for the mission. Additional responsibilities include working with litigation teams to identify custodians and ESI sources, receiving data, setting up databases, and sending out productions, to name a few examples.
Even the most talented eDiscovery project teams require a manager to oversee operations and keep workflows moving. Without a dedicated manager calling the shots, an eDiscovery team is bound to fail, especially in large firms that manage multiple projects and complex cases involving large volumes of ESI.
With this in mind, there are different types of project managers in eDiscovery. For example, an eDiscovery project manager may be a full-time, onsite manager. Some teams also choose to rotate eDiscovery project managers among team members or assign temporary project managers for specific cases, audits, or investigations.
To illustrate, an eDiscovery analyst might oversee a short-term project that involves assembling a report and a technical worker may oversee a project for extracting information from a database. Teams also may occasionally hire third-party project managers and specialists on an as-needed basis when they need extra support or specialization.
Building an eDiscovery Project Management Framework
It’s important to realize that appointing a manager isn’t enough to ensure optimal success during an eDiscovery project. For the best results, it’s critical to establish a clear and concise project management plan.
To be sure, eDiscovery project frameworks vary from case to case. But here’s a general breakdown of how the process works.
Pick the right manager
The manager you select will play a big part in the project’s overall success. As such, it’s critical to pick the right person for each job.
A project manager should demonstrate subject matter expertise and have strong communication and leadership skills. They should also be able to execute tasks and see projects through from conception to completion—with minimal supervision.
At the same time, a project manager should have a sense of how to work with others and motivate them. The most effective eDiscovery teams operate with a healthy balance of autonomy and supervision. But it’s up to the manager to establish a working environment and convey expectations for daily workflows.
Break down the project
The next step is to break down the project from end to end. In other words, you’ll want to identify the resources that you need and the budget that you have in place.
It’s also necessary to set clear project objectives and an overall goal of what you’re trying to achieve. For example, an eDiscovery team might have an overarching goal of passing an audit or winning a court case. But there could be several different objectives within the larger project that require completion.
By outlining each step, you leave nothing to chance during a project. This reduces risk, eliminates confusion, and improves your chances of success.
Make a schedule
After you break down the project and pick the right project manager for the job, the next thing you’ll want to do is create a master schedule. Outline each project deadline and the main deadline for the end of the project. Then share the project with your team members and make sure everyone is on the same page. This way, you can get to work without worrying about scheduling conflicts.
Execute the plan
Once your eDiscovery project is ready, move forward and start completing objectives. Oftentimes, teams get so caught up in planning that they waste time and wind up missing their target deadlines. For this reason, you should quickly build an eDiscovery plan and get to work as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary delays.
Learn from the plan
The most effective eDiscovery teams take notes and reflect on their progress at the end of each project. This is because eDiscovery projects can be valuable learning opportunities. By comparing notes and reviewing best practices, your team can improve over time and become better and better at managing and presenting ESI.
Best Practices for eDiscovery Project Management
Now that you have a better idea of how to build a framework for your team, let’s examine some best practices to help you get optimal results.
eDiscovery is rarely cut and dried. As such, it’s important to stay fluid and be flexible when working with clients and business partners and adjust your strategy on the fly. For example, project objectives may change during the course of an audit or investigation. Sometimes you have to adjust your approach to meet larger objectives.
Trust your team
Suffice it to say that eDiscovery can be an overwhelming process. It’s common for project managers to try and do too much and micromanage their teammates. But as long as you have a great team in place, it’s okay to sit back and trust others to complete tasks and carry projects forward.
The most effective managers build their teams carefully and trust them to do great work. The best eDiscovery teams operate with a great deal of teamwork, trust, and collaboration.
Most eDiscovery teams now use software to streamline workflows and improve communication. The days of manual eDiscovery are coming to an end. Recent advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning make eDiscovery easier and more efficient than ever before. Now you can centralize eDiscovery and use the cloud to store, analyze, and export data.
How Venio Makes eDiscovery Easy
Venio Systems offers a purpose-built platform for eDiscovery. We streamline the entire eDiscovery process and bring it all together into a single, user-friendly platform. With our platform, your team will streamline workflows, reduce costs, and improve accuracy. Venio is useful for corporations, government organizations, eDiscovery providers, and law firms.
At the end of the day, eDiscovery doesn’t have to be difficult. Venio empowers eDiscovery teams and gives them the ability to take the reins and efficiently produce ESI.
To experience Venio in action, schedule a demo today.
About the Author
Justin Reynolds, Akshita Singhal & Lianna Vaughan
This post was written by Justin Reynolds. Justin is a freelance writer who enjoys telling stories about how technology, science, and creativity can help workers be more productive. In his spare time, he likes seeing or playing live music, hiking, and traveling. This post was reviewed and published by Akshita and Lianna, the in-house team of Venio.