Benefits of Single Service Provider, End-to-End Approach
When planning an eDiscovery project, many decisions can meaningfully affect the outcome, from selecting a processing tool to trial presentation software. However, prior to those decisions – even before collection – the choice whether to use a single or multiple service provider to manage your eDiscovery project can reverberate through the entire span of the project. To set the stage for increased efficiency. Using a single service provider for the entirety of a project presents several benefits, which are enumerated below.
The first benefit of using one provider is that it improves the overall security of an eDiscovery assignment. The single provider can establish one set of security protocols, one team with access to data, and one ‘failure point’ for malicious actors to attack. When using multiple providers, there are greater opportunities for security breaches as more people are accessing the data and the data is moving to multiple servers.
A project should be scoped early on and every phase of the matter should be discussed. This initial consultation on the project plan presents an opportunity to establish a coherent vision for the entire project. Even steps further to the right of the EDRM which are unable to be fully mapped-out at such an early stage should be considered. Since choices made about data retention, collection, and processing will have downstream implications for hosting, review, production, and presentation, considering those later phases early on will ultimately lead to a more efficient, cost-effective, and better overall result. The benefit of using a single service provider is that the scoping of the project is done once versus in phases. A comprehensive plan is determined that encompasses all aspects of the case instead of it being broken down into smaller parts. This allows counsel to see the broad scope of the case early on and gives insight into overall timelines and budget.
While it may be overlooked, the fact that all employees within the umbrella of one service provider have access to the same internal communication systems is beneficial. Whether it be via Outlook, Teams, Slack, or some other platform, intra-company communication can be near-instantaneous. This provides improved agility which can be critical when there are urgent, fast-moving developments in a matter. A single service provider system can quickly distribute new instructions to all members of the project team, regardless of function or location. This “no lag” communication flow is particularly critical during depositions, at trial, or other times when presentation of exhibits and reaction to new information in real-time can facilitate critical revelations or case-changing facts.
An additional benefit from this streamlined communication manifests itself in a clear delineation of roles and responsibilities. Within the service provider team, each member develops an understanding of responsibilities built from working with team members in other departments. They know who performs the actual physical transfer of data from media into the database, who handles early case assessment work and pre-review data setup. This delineation of responsibilities is clear across the matter lifecycle. Everything is under a single roof, so the compliance or security concerns that arise when providing external personnel with particularized database permissions are non-existent.
Using a single service provider has the added benefit of providing a central point of control – the relationship manager. This experienced professional maintains high-level oversight of the entire process yet has the ability to drill down for granular information, to understand project challenges. The person filling this role can help ensure that item-level decisions are consistent with overall project goals. This might be challenging or impossible in a scenario where different service providers who all have different relationship managers are overseeing different portions of a project.
Another benefit of this overall project-level individual is that it provides the client with a single point of accountability. While service providers generally deliver superb service, occasionally problems arise (and are more likely when using multiple service providers and communication and information-sharing processes are not well established). Having a single point of contact provides the client with a built-in advocate who can bear personal accountability for ensuring necessary remediations are made and that, in the end, project deliverables will satisfy project needs. Additionally, a single service provider in this circumstance ensures there is no disagreement as to who is responsible for the underlying errors and their resolution.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with taking a multiple service provider approach to a project, in light of improved planning and coordination, tighter security, and improved communication flow and reaction time, legal teams would be well-served to consider taking a single service provider approach on any significant eDiscovery project. This provides a cogent, organizing principle to eDiscovery endeavors and enables what is perhaps its most critical benefit – a unified approach from the very beginning of a matter and alignment across all phases of the process.