Selecting an ediscovery provider is no small job. There are many options and telling them apart can be hard. When the time comes to select a new provider or audit an existing panel, these three guideposts will help you stay on course in a sea of features and pricing models.

  1. Take two steps back: Determine the best overall fit for your objectives.
  2. Be bold: Select the best technology and custom-designed solutions for your data.
  3. Plan to succeed: Blueprint each role and responsibility in the program

In this three-part blog series, I will break them down, starting with the first.

Determine the best fit for your objectives

Keeping a program budget under control is a feat to be proud of. eDiscovery pricing comparisons and budget management find a way to consume time like political campaigns consume dollars. Fortunately for you, the buyer, apples-to-apples comparisons across providers are becoming easier. More providers are offering insightful reporting, making it easier to measure who is really worth their salt. As you grow more empowered with cost and performance information, securing a new, better fit may become as enticing as ever. The first step is to determine if you need an all-in-one provider, if you should bring the technology in house via SaaS, or if you should use more than one provider to handle different stages of the work, i.e. a processing provider, a hosting provider, etc.

Zero in on your front-runners by taking two steps back. What model is best for you?

  • For the in house approach, bringing some or all of the process behind your organization’s firewall can give you maximum control and opportunity for customization. You may be able to save money by hiring an employee to run the tools if your litigation volume is reasonably static, but the cost of sinking budget into internal tools and head count can be prohibitively expensive for small to mid-sized litigation loads. Your resource constraints can hinder your scalability as volume and matter counts increase. If you think a dedicated person or team might be your best fit, remember lastly to account for ongoing overhead costs to manage system upgrades, incident responses, and certification updates because those can mount quickly.
  • All-in-one providers that offer processing and review are built to absorb such costs and can usually push large data volumes through rigid workflows they built for capacity. There was a trend when the all-in-one model was most popular thanks to simplified billing, less moving pieces, and non-specialized reporting. Before buyers had access to DIY reporting through vendor dashboards, the all-in-one vendor seemed the most comprehensive route. While the “one throat to choke” approach does still simplify program management, it leaves you, the bill payer, less nimble to leverage new technology. Consider that a revenue model based on billing for document review inherently detracts from that provider’s incentives to reduce the document count, and many organizations are now motivated to shop around for a better, modular provider fit.
  • The third model employs two or more specialized service providers across both data processing and review. This generates a natural accountability bonus as both providers work to shine. You must now supervise the sandbox where both providers play, however invoice costs overall tend to be lowest if you are looking to outsource ediscovery. Be bold when vetting exactly how the service providers propose to support review efforts including system up-time standards, response time SLAs, and service continuity expectations. Remember, the model should support how you plan to be involved in the daily work.

The majority of corporations confirm that most of their ediscovery costs are tied to document review, ranging from 65% to 85%, with 73% listed in the 2014 Rand Report, “Where the Money Goes.” Where your focus is in control, or invoice consistency or cost reduction, each of these models presents an advantage. As you gain more control over the process and as the curtain is pulled back from billing obscurity, many ediscovery managers are happy to find real value through the third model with review costs in the crosshairs.