10 Fundamentals of eDiscovery Project Management

A lot of information is being published about the processes and workflows required to support projects that include technology assisted review, data analytics, and other more advanced functionality. Important as they are, I question whether the attention to these new workflows is causing us to lose focus on the foundational building blocks of effective and proactive eDiscovery project management.

In my work with the Organization of Legal Professionals, and specifically on the topic of eDiscovery project management, I was reminded that the EDRM Process Model is not driven by the latest set of requirements needed to support a specific technology, but by the purity of the process.

We must keep the fundamentals of the eDiscovery Lifecycle in mind while implementing the latest processes for predictive coding, early case assessment, sampling, data analysis etc. into a project workflow. We should consistently remember, and strive to practice, these ten foundational pieces of eDiscovery project management:

1. Set Objectives and Define Scope

  • Lay the foundation for project success by aligning the vision and goals.

2. Identify and Schedule Activities

  • Start defining the project plan with sufficient detail that will provide the outline for the plan as the process moves forward.
  • Define the documentation that accompanies the plan.
  • Ensure that the activities are defined and clearly stated.

3. Assign Tasks and Manage the Team

  • Build your team members. These should come from all relevant groups: Business units; Law firm and/or legal department; Service providers, support staff
  • Team members should each receive the project documentation and be clearly aware of the project scope, timeline, deliverables and expectations.

4. Plan and Manage the Budget

  • Outline the budget and keep it in mind throughout the entire process.
  • Address any and all scope creep or scope changes immediately.
  • Get sign-off on all budget changes.

5. Assess Risks to the Budget and Schedule

  • Constantly assess and review the budget and the schedule.
  • Be proactive. Assess potential risks before the budget or schedule changes. Make modifications to the project workflow on your terms whenever possible.

6. Manage Quality

  • Quality control, quality assurance and quality evaluation should always be planned and implemented.
  • Do not let time constraints impede quality.

7. Manage Client Communications and Expectations

  • The development and implementation of a communication plan is important.
  • Remember that both bad news and good news must be communicated.
  • Give team members time to react if there is a deadline that may need to be extended or a deliverable that needs more time to be completed.

8. Negotiate Change Orders

  • Whenever a plan needs modification, factor in the development of change order tracking so that there is always a record to refer to.

9. Close Out

  • Closeout includes archival and disposition of data, metrics summarization, project summarization, lessons learned activities and documentation finalized.

10. Risk Management

  • Risk must be managed throughout the lifecycle of the project. Focus on identifying and mitigating negative impacts at every stage of the project.

Additionally, the key principals for success outlined so well by EDRM.net are:

  • Proactive and open communication;
  • Alignment of all teams to a common vision and goals;
  • Comprehensive planning that spans the entire project;
  • Preparing for and managing unknowns and changes;
  • Coordinated performance of all teams involved;
  • Ongoing project monitoring and course correction;
  • Ongoing risk management.

The need to effectively and efficiently support a discovery project must always take precedence. 

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