In our last post, we considered internal factors that organizations should evaluate when deciding whether and how to allocate responsibility for e-discovery between in-house and external resources. However, as they choose the model that best meets their needs, they must also consider external factors, critically evaluating their potential partners.
As discussed in a Xerox whitepaper, Right-Sizing Electronic Discovery: The Case for Managed Services, here are the top 10 criteria organizations should look for when choosing an e-discovery service provider:
1. Track record: The provider should have deep experience in multiple phases of e-discovery along with seasoned personnel, including project managers, who can work closely with the organization to plan discovery strategically.
2. Flexibility: E-discovery isn’t one-size-fits-all. The best providers tailor their approaches to each client and matter, customizing their services to match the clients’ requirements and goals. This includes flexible technology options—i.e., it can be accessed via a cloud-based hosted model, installed on premises or a combination of both.
3. Budget Predictability: Pricing agreements should be transparent and predictable; otherwise, cost discussions (and hidden costs) may threaten to overshadow the project. For example, look for vendors willing to offer unlimited and concurrent software licensing, which will improve scalability in users, data volume, and matters without incurring additional costs, along with all-inclusive functionality. For example, conduct due diligence on service providers offering fixed monthly fees—they may charge separately for analytics and users.
4. Flexible Staffing: Staffing options should allow organizations to fill gaps remotely, on-site or a combination of both on an on-demand basis to maximize efficiencies in resources and costs—providing external support to the internal litigation support team.
5. Technology: The provider should offer the latest e-discovery technology, such as technology-assisted review (TAR) and advanced analytics, to employ as needed in large matters to limit the time and cost of review. Often, a provider who has developed its own e-discovery review platform will be more responsive to client needs with respect to development.
6. Security: Make sure the provider has multiple tiers of security and redundancy. The provider should be ISO 27001 certified and offer business continuity planning and disaster recovery services.
7. Confidentiality: The provider should have experience handling confidential and proprietary information and should have mechanisms in place that facilitate protecting this sensitive data.
8. Methodology: The provider should have repeatable, reliable methods for every stage of the e-discovery spectrum, along with robust chain-of-custody protocols. All workflows should be proven and documented.
9. Scalability: The provider should have the ability to handle, process, host, and store large amounts of data. Be sure you understand any data center capacity constraints or limitations.
10. Global Presence: Look for a provider with the ability to support projects domestically and internationally, regardless of scale, language, or scope, with data centers that offer localized support.
Managed service providers should also have well-defined plans for the deployment, in whatever form it takes. That plan should include, at a minimum, detailed information on the project rollout and management; a staffing plan; training programs; user provisioning; and, proven documented workflows.
For most organizations, outsourcing some processes as part of a managed services model makes sense. However, organizations should understand their own needs and carefully vet potential partners.