In our previous installment, we spoke about the evolution of the knowledge worker as a key part of the changing e-discovery landscape. Building a sophisticated team to work with technology-enhanced review tools, manage complex automated collection tools and act as special operations consultants to outside counsel defines one aspect of the today’s e-discovery knowledge worker movement. Another facet of the knowledge worker profile focuses on the project managers and consultants who can draw from universally accepted processes that create document workflow and planning.
Defensibility is one of the de jure words in e-discovery today. Defensibility does not equal perfection in the discovery compliance world. It means that parties must have a reasonable process for collecting, reviewing and producing documents. Reasonable simply means repeatable with comparable results.
True project management is a methodical approach to planning and guiding project processes from start to finish. According to the Project Management Institute, the processes are guided through five stages: initiation, planning, executing, controlling and closing. Project management can be applied to almost any type of project. Successful e-discovery is about a methodical approach to the processes of acquiring and culling data, reviewing it and producing it. The documentation that goes with professional project management is an essential element to showing defensibility and reasonableness. Collecting from multiple data sources, documenting the actions taken and establishing the criteria for volume reduction should occur as a byproduct of a disciplined plan. Creating a fully optimized review database that streamlines document review and quality control is a project management function. Finally, ensuring that that process meets the agreed-upon confidence intervals is both a technology and a project management function. Someone has to own the quality of document review in the same way someone owns the defect rate in manufacturing.
Testing project managers’ knowledge of e-discovery is different than offering tools and training to manage and document projects more rigorously. In our industry a lot of project managers can be classified as accidental project managers. They often are capable contract attorneys or litigation support professionals who began managing e-discovery projects either out of necessity or through “battlefield promotions.” Their core competencies are valuable parts of the process, but those core competencies are not where it ends. Putting all of your e-discovery project managers through the rigor and discipline of project management professional certification programs arms them with more tools to proactively manage projects for optimal results. We have embarked on such a program to better train our projects managers and to provide them with genuine credentials that show they bring a disciplined method of thinking and implementing proven processes to their work.