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Why Skipping eDiscovery Workflow Planning Is a Problem

Taking the time to establish a clear eDiscovery workflow plan from the beginning reduces the chances you’ll drown in the minutiae later.

Businessman giving presentation to clients at conference meeting

A smooth eDiscovery process hinges on an organized approach. While not all matters are created equal, having a plan in place that dictates some of the facets of how eDiscovery on matters will be handled is key. Then, from this eDiscovery workflow plan, a more matter-focused plan can be created.

Why do you need a plan? Not only are data volumes growing exponentially, but so are data sources and locations, deadlines and budgets are shrinking, and cross-border eDiscovery is getting more complex by the minute. Taking the time to establish a clear workflow plan from the beginning reduces the chances you’ll drown in the minutiae.

On the most basic level, establishing a workflow plan ensures eDiscovery is done consistently and efficiently, and that none of the essential steps are skipped. This includes clearly determining and defining the scope so that you don’t over-collect or under-collect data for a matter–both of which cost time, money and resources–and establishing a plan of attack for the matter with the intelligent use of early case assessment techniques.

A clearly-defined eDiscovery workflow plan also ensures you’re preserving the right data and that your work is defensible. Whether you have to explain your process to your internal team, regulators, your client, opposing counsel, or the bench, showing a well-constructed plan helps to avoid delays and sanctions.

While we know that the Federal rules stipulate “a plan” is required in several places, the regulations don’t detail what it should look like even though they do provide considerations. Taking the lead from these rules and implementing a proactive eDiscovery workflow plan for your company or your client’s company will help in mitigating both risks and exorbitant costs. Consider how these areas will be handled on each matter and include some detailed attributes based on how the company operates:

  • Scope of matter or investigation
    • Duty to investigate (what is going to matter and where does it live)
    • Duty to preserve (legal holds and no more deletion of potentially relevant data)
  • Collection of data identified
  • Processing of data for ECA or full attorney review
  • Review of data
  • Production of data

Today’s higher standards when it comes to both speed and accuracy means there is little patience for incompleteness or a black box process. Developing a good, documented eDiscovery workflow plan takes time and effort, but it pays off in spades. Investing in good workflow planning can even reduce total project expenses–significantly.