A multi-part series on eDiscovery program management issues facing serial litigants, including readiness, resources, service providers, metrics, and more
In the first Part of this series, we reviewed the concept of program management (as distinguished from project management) and discussed its potential cost and risk reduction benefits. In the second Part, we discussed the evaluation and improvement of organizational litigation readiness. In the third Part, we discussed how to evaluate your existing needs and resources. In the fourth Part, we discussed the available solution models. In the fifth Part, we discussed the evaluation of eDiscovery service providers. In this Part, we continue our review of program management issues with a look at tracking metrics for program management.
During each eDiscovery project, there are countless opportunities for tracking key information about the project over time. From monitoring responsiveness rates for different sources, to tracking overturn rates for different reviewers, intra-project metric monitoring can be done for both the materials in each project and the methods of execution employed for each project. Source prioritization and reviewer quality control are just two examples of the many project management advantages that can be gained by capturing such metrics.
There are even greater advantages, however, to moving beyond intra-project metric monitoring to inter-project metric monitoring. When the relevant project details are captured across multiple projects in a standardized, normalized way, they reveal additional insights invaluable for proactive program management within an organization. Most importantly, tracking key metrics across projects enables you to establish benchmarks for the cost, time, and effectiveness of various tasks, approaches, and service providers (including yourselves). And, against those benchmarks, goals for incremental, iterative improvement can then be set and achieved.
Which metrics will be most useful to your organization will depend, to some extent, on the types of matters and eDiscovery activities in which your organization is most often engaged, as well as on your balance of insourcing and outsourcing. A variety of useful, general purpose metrics sets are available publicly. For one good example from which to select metrics for your organization, see the EDRM Metrics Model. Here, we will review examples of key project metrics to consider tracking for the realization of cross-project, program management benefits:
And, as stated above, this list just contains key examples for each category. Depending on your program management goals and your areas of focus, there are many additional, more granular metrics that might be tracked as well.
As noted above, the most important benefit of tracking key metrics across projects is that it enables you to establish data-based benchmarks that you can use for more reliable future cost estimation, for more useful assessment of individual project progress, for more meaningful evaluation of service providers, and for the implementation of iterative improvement goals.
Here are more specific examples of the kinds of benefits that can be realized by tracking the example metrics identified above:
Not all organizations have sufficiently-frequent litigation to realize all of these benefits or to make tracking all of the above metrics worth it. But for those organizations that are (or are becoming) serial litigants, there is no end to the benefits that come from replacing anecdotal evidence with data and engaging in data-driven decision-making about eDiscovery.
Upcoming in this Series
In the next Part of this series, we will continue our review of eDiscovery program management issues with a discussion of leveraging these metrics, and other steps, for ongoing program maintenance and improvement.