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eDiscovery Managed Services 101: What Is It and When Does It Make Sense?

Managed services in the world of eDiscovery are increasing in popularity and can range from a complete, stand-alone solution to a hybrid model that still relies on some form of internal support. Here’s how to find out what’s right for you.

Person on laptop using eDiscovery managed servicesManaged services are essentially the outsourcing of management responsibilities and strategies to improve operations and reduce expenses. Utilizing eDiscovery managed services eliminates the need for businesses to create, manage and staff their own infrastructure by transferring the oversight of these tasks on to a trusted partner.

With so many different aspects involved in the process of eDiscovery, many legal organizations leverage managed services to round out their own operation or offerings. For example, a law firm might use managed review services to reduce the cost of finding and training document reviewers.

When providers and partners are carefully chosen to address specific needs, tremendous efficiencies can be gained. That’s why the managed services business model is such a popular choice in the industry. When it makes sense to consider such a business model there are some requirements on choosing a partner and a platform.

What Exactly Do Managed Services Look Like?

Managed services are used in a wide variety of industries including IT, business to business integration, supply chain management and more. These services offer niche specialties depending on the needs of the specific industry being served. In law firms, those specialties may include information governance, litigation preparedness, computer forensics, creating search and culling strategies, establishing customized review workflows and more.

Within eDiscovery, managed services most commonly take four approaches:

  • Consulting services leading up to a legal action (such as data governance andlitigation preparedness)
  • Outsourcing litigation support services (frequently done by law firms or corporations)
  • Processing software for law firms, corporations and service providers
  • Document review software and/or hosting environments for legal teams to perform document review

Why Outsource eDiscovery with Managed Services?

There are quite a few factors that make it difficult, inefficient or costly to perform certain eDiscovery services in-house. Small corporations offering litigation support services with minimal staff, for example, simply don’t have the resources to provide all aspects of eDiscovery. By leveraging managed services, in this case, the corporation can focus on their strengths—maybe in-house counsel guiding and running document reviews—rather than worrying about trying to tackle all the aspects of eDiscovery.

Even for larger firms, utilizing managed services can offer many distinct benefits. Managed service providers are experts in their focused fields and can help ensure projects are done on time by utilizing customized workflows and highly trained personnel. This frees up more bandwidth for internal team members to focus on their own individual strengths. For the most part, managed services have cost certainty and predictability built-in since the industry dictates fair and acceptable rates.

3 Steps to Implementing Managed eDiscovery Services

#1 Choose to Fully Outsource or Collaborate

Once you’ve decided a full internal eDiscovery infrastructure is unrealistic, you’ll next need to decide whether collaboration between a third party partner and internal staff or a fully outsourced model entrusted to a third-party vendor is right for your organization.

Nearly every aspect of a project can be managed externally, but a hybrid approach—collaborating with a managed services partner and keeping some tasks in-house—is often the top choice for many organizations. The beauty of the managed services business model is that it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing partnership. A hybridized, collaborative model provides the best of both worlds by keeping some control in-house and still enjoying the benefits of experienced managed services professionals.

#2 Choose a Partner

Law firms and corporations each inherently have their own core competencies. These are the things they do well to make them profitable and provide value to their partners, clients and customers. Augmenting your strengths by establishing trusted partnerships with managed services experts helps to streamline an eDiscovery operation. However, choosing a managed services partner requires proper due diligence.

Find a partner that offers tailored services to fit your specific needs. It is important that the services are appropriately scaled to operate within the agreed upon statement of work and are of good value for the benefits the partner provides. Be cautious not to farm out too much of your work, which can become unnecessarily expensive. Managing multiple teams can be cumbersome and distributing too much ownership can result in a project that is hard to oversee. Instead, assess your strengths and needs carefully and strategically choose a trusted partner to outsource the services that would add value to your existing operation.

#3 Select Your eDiscovery Software

Before searching out eDiscovery software, you’ll need to research and define the specific goals and challenges your business faces. The software should alleviate pain points and increase efficiency. Do not rely solely on your managed services partner to select a system. Review any software tool to ensure it utilizes customized workflows that allow you to set your own parameters. This includes custom processing specifications, review logic and intuitive systems that work in a logical fashion. An intuitive system lowers the barrier for adoption as it fosters utilization. Stay away from “black box” software as all system outcomes need to be clearly understood and defensible.

Your eDiscovery software should be cost effective, flexible, scalable, properly sized for the needs of your corporation and able to provide the solutions you’re looking for. The software chosen must be able to provide desired results in the allotted amount of time and should be intuitive and easy to use. Complicated, unreliable software ultimately creates unnecessary overhead.

Ideally, your software should be able to accommodate hundreds of users if necessary, but should also be capable of functioning efficiently on a small scale.

The Future of Managed Services in eDiscovery

There will always be certain aspects of eDiscovery that are off-loaded to a trusted partner. Simply stated, managed services provide organizations with realized benefits. While it is certainly possible to build an internal, comprehensive eDiscovery system, the significant costs, expertise and training required have become cost prohibitive. Law firms and corporations have discovered that collaboration with an established, trusted partner offers a much better return on their investment rather than trying to manage the process themselves.

The future of managed services has certain aspects that will never be replaced. However, as corporations and law firms increase their knowledge and understanding, they will have greater control of their operation, better awareness and additional avenues to monetize their operation. Taking on a greater stake will also further legitimize their position and add to their credibility, both internally and externally, by providing additional exposure and marketability.

Find out more about how ONE Discovery Software delivers an unparalleled customer experience here.