Choosing the eDiscovery vendor that’s right for you

I participated in a  great webinar this week entitled ‘Practical considerations when buying eDiscovery software.’ As the name suggests, the emphasis was on giving attendees practical advice. I’ve never purchased eDiscovery software but I’ve been on the other side of the equation; involved in selling and marketing it at Recommind and am familiar with all the vendors in the market and have spoken to many of their customers over the years.

We talked about the various aspects of choosing an eDiscovery vendor and one of the things I mentioned both during my presentation is the importance of choosing the right eDiscovery for you and your situation. I spoke about the need to do a thorough situation analysis to start with – indeed until you have the answers to questions such as ‘how do we currently handle eDiscovery?’ and ‘what internal and external resources do we use?’ you should not go any further.

Once you have those answers and are assessing the vendors, I stressed the need for customer references and reviewing analysts reports and speaking with analysts if you can. On the question of analysts, would-be purchasers shouldn’t just limit themselves to the leaders in Gartner’s eDiscovery Magic Quadrant, for instance. They should look beyond that at vendors that may offer specific features they need. For example, if they require multilingual support or need to  analyse audio and video files, not all the leaders have those features, though some do. Similarly, some vendors are better at some parts of the process than others. You may only be looking to bring the early stages of eDiscovery in-house, while leaving the review and analysis stages to outside counsel or a legal processing outsourcing (LPO) provider, for example. And then there’s the price and the pricing model: whether you want a perpetual license, a subscription or a volume-based one, all are on offer and so don’t feel forced to choose one that isn’t right for you. And in this market, high price isn’t necessarily a reflection of high quality of product or customer service. So it’s not about simply choosing the leader; it’s about choosing the best vendor for you.

We had great engagement from the audience on the webinar and another the questions was about ‘shadow IT’ and the problems of employees putting data in consumer-oriented cloud providers, of which there are many. This is where close co-operation between legal, IT and the lines of business comes in to help do regular  assessment of where data is being stored and used. The BYOD phenomenon is real and highlight the need for clear BYOD policies to be implemented to try and avoid major eDiscovery headaches. When data is stored on employees’ own devices it not only throws up the risk of data loss, but also potential privacy issues as it blurs the lines between what is the property of the employer and employee.

A survey published  this week backs up both of these points. According to the inaugural Inside E-Discovery Survey, run by BDO Consulting, a provider of financial advisory, business advisory and technology services, the largest percentage of in-house counsel  (22.5 percent) said managing mobile and social networking data is the number one issue they will face in the near future. Other near-term eDiscovery headaches include cost control (17.5 percent) and new regulations (15 percent). And in terns of choosing the right vendor, the largest portion (47.6 percent) of in-house counsel surveyed said the quality of the eDiscovery provider is most important, followed by 23.8 percent ranking cost as most important.

Just as when parents are deciding to which they should send their children, they need to figure out which school fits their child the best, rather than the other way round. Similarly those making eDiscovery technology purchasing decisions  need to ascertain which provider is right for them.

If you’re contemplating purchasing eDiscovery technology and would like advice on the process and the options available, please get in touch with me here.

The recording of the webinar, which was run in conjunction with the Association of Certified E-Discovery Specialists (ACEDS) and ZyLAB  is available here.

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