7 Tips for Managing Remote Teams for eDiscovery Projects

Complexities of eDiscovery matters often pose specific challenges for project managers: varying requirements, critical paths, project inputs and delivery methods. Juggling court-imposed requirements without much opportunity for input into scope and risk is a challenge throughout the lifecycle of the project.

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Successful eDiscovery project managers are flexible enough to handle scope changes and disciplined enough to ensure the final delivery complies with all agreements. Most importantly, effective communication is crucial in facilitating the end-product. Below are a few examples of how to effectively manage the most important aspect of a project: the delivery team members.       

Time Zones

One way to compress the timeline/critical path of an eDiscovery project is to leverage contributors in different time zones.  This is especially important while dealing with large datasets requiring significant computer processing and monitoring time.  Workflows should allow for the continuous flow of data from the processing phase – where the metadata is extracted and the documents made searchable, to the review phase – where attorneys review, code and redact, and finally to the production queue for delivery to opposing/the court.

Regular Team Communication

Keep regularly scheduled team meetings that allow for participation from each member.  If this means that some team members must adjust their work schedule to take part in an off- hours, but not overnight hours meeting, it must be done.  Verbal communication is key to managing priorities, building rapport, and developing team cohesiveness.  Relying on email or other written communication leaves room for misinterpretation. 

Understand Workloads

Work with team members functional managers to adjust and prioritize tasks as needed.  A good project manager not only understands their projects, but also the projects that their team members are working on.  Knowing this can enable adjustments to task lists without sacrificing time.  Additionally, ensure that the functional manager of your delivery contributor understands the overall scope of the project and what will be asked of their direct reports

Develop a project timeline and track each step

We all know that the critical path is the minimum number of steps needed to complete a project.  Using this critical path to develop a timeline for projects is a must, especially for remote team that are not in close physical proximity.  Use this time-line and task list to drive status updates to all stakeholders – especially end clients. 

Articulate discussion of Subject Matter Experts: Play the middle man between technical and legal team members.  In eDiscovery, a project manager must be technically adept AND informed on legal topics.  Frequently, you will be asked to translate tech speak to legal speak and vice versa. To facilitate understanding between the legal team and technology team members, be sure you are up on the latest best practices and case law.

Engage in impromptu conversation

Management by walking around is popular among functional managers and project managers alike for one reason – it is effective.  Checking in with team members at a time they may not be expecting it can help uncover gaps in knowledge and other hidden project risks.  With remote teams, you cannot just drop in to someone’s workspace.  Use chat tools, such as Skype, to check in frequently. These check-ins are good opportunities to get to know your team members better and build rapport.  

Takeaways: Technology can both streamline and complicate eDiscovery projects. Adapting proven project management communication practices to today’s environment, will deliver eDiscovery projects that comply with all stipulations and are on time and on budget. 

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