Rolling Out a New eDiscovery Program? This One Thing Stands Between You and Success
When you’re getting ready to roll out a new eDiscovery program – whether it’s a new piece of software to handle one piece of the puzzle, an entire set of solutions to insource the whole process, or a capacity-based eDiscovery managed services program – it’s easy to get caught up in the technical aspects of implementation, and the operational aspects of adoption.
Consider also that litigation loads don’t lessen during new eDiscovery program rollouts – legal and IT teams must continue to conduct discovery and process data using old processes while also focusing on implementing new processes – resulting in split focus for the entire legal department during a transition.
Communication is Key to Success in eDiscovery Change Management
One of the most overlooked components of a successful eDiscovery program rollout – whether a new process, new software, or just a change in the process – is communication. It’s easy for legal practitioners and technologist to focus on the technical aspects of a new piece of eDiscovery software, and the legal ins and outs of a particular case – both absolutely critical pieces to a successful program. But even the best software paired with the best legal strategy can fail when it’s not backed by a solid communication plan. Especially when you’re making systemic changes to the way your company manages the eDiscovery process.
For the best chance at success, you’ll need buy-in and complete understanding from all your stakeholders – from the in-house attorneys managing the process and the firm attorneys managing litigation loads to the IT professionals managing data and retention policies; from the contract review attorneys to the technical specialists managing data processing. That’s where a strategic communications plan comes in.
Top Three Elements of a Successful eDiscovery communications plan
There are three main elements to a good communication plan – whether you’re communicating a new eDiscovery program rollout or any other type of corporate change:
- Single point of responsibility: One, you need a single point of responsibility for driving the plan. Ideally, you’ll have a steering committee made up of cross-functional leaders. For litigation projects on the corporate side, for example, you’ll want someone from your in-house counsel team, someone from litigation support, and someone from IT on the team at the very least. In cases where you really just have a single person responsible for the plan – whether that’s a strategic communications consultant or someone in-house – you’ll at least want cross-functional buy-in from those same stakeholders.
- Inclusive communications plan: Put together a solid communications plan that includes a list of stakeholders, critical deliverables, and a timeline. It’s important to put at least a loose plan in place so you have something to manage to and against as the rollout progresses.
- Consistent execution: And lastly, you not only need to execute on that plan with regular, transparent communication to all stakeholders. And as your litigation team deploys the program and iterates, your steering community
Benefits of eDiscovery Communication
At its core, an eDiscovery communication plan helps to reduce the risk inherent in all litigation transactions. When everyone who touches the data involved in an eDiscovery project is clear on data handling protocols, and their specific roles as they relate to the project, risk is going to be inherently reduced. A clear communications program means there’s less overlap in roles and less opportunity for error – fewer cooks in the kitchen, if you will.
Ultimately, the benefit is to the organizations involved. To an end corporate client, that means their exposure is reduced. To the law firms involved in eDiscovery projects, that means they can deliver better, seamless service to their clients, and their exposure is reduced. And for us at Epiq, it’s part of delivering the kind of hands-on service our clients expect.
Learn more about our eDiscovery solutions here.
Sarah Brown is a legal technology thought leader with ten years’ experience in the eDiscovery and information management fields. At Epiq, her primary focus is on driving awareness for the company’s industry-recognized services and solutions. Prior to Epiq, Brown spent several years working for Epiq partner Exterro, building out a thought leadership and content program across eDiscovery, information management, litigation readiness, and other data-centric activities. She has a journalism background and holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in strategic communications from Columbia University. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.