This is Part 1 of a 3 part blog series discussing how to optimize your time, efforts and results when looking to partner with an eDiscovery provider.
In a sea of 600+ eDiscovery providers in the US alone, trying to find the right vendor to meet and fulfill your requirements is difficult. Like purchasing a car, you have a choice of vendors that range from local, to regional and national providers. Some that use their own technologies, others that use off-the-shelf products and a few others that provide traditional processing / hosting services spawned from the paper world.
This article will walk you through a decision making process to provide guidance when evaluating eDiscovery vendors that best meet your current and anticipated needs.
METHODOLOGY AND RESOURCES
When preparing to purchase an automobile, most people follow a methodical approach to identify brands they trust, models they like and dealerships they might want to do business with. They conduct extensive research to help them make the best decision.
Evaluating and choosing an eDiscovery vendor follows a similar process.
With all the social media tools, company websites, blogs, analyst opinions and publications out there – let alone sales reps vying for your attention, trying to figure out where to look for the best eDiscovery vendor can be a daunting and lengthy task.
To help guide you, the collective experienced minds behind the Socha-Gelbmann Electronic Discovery Survey and EDRM itself, George Socha and Tom Gelbmann, have created a free vendor directory called Apersee that provides organizations with objective details about participating vendors across multiple categories.
Visitors can search eDiscovery vendors by entering a set of specific keywords (i.e. forensics, eDiscovery, review platform name, etc.) or by browsing the provider list based illustrated by EDRM stages. Other queries can also include specific geographic region(s) or how a provider can be contacted.
Other resources providing valuable vendor information include:
- LinkedIn groups, such as ALSP (Association of Litigation Support Professionals)
- E-Discovery 2.0
- eDiscovery Networking Group
- The Electronic Discovery Reference Model
In addition, blog posts, articles and industry newspapers or magazines, such as Legal Technology News (LTN) can provide ample information to help guide decision making. Rob Robinson of Complex Discovery Solutions has posted on LinkedIn a nice inventory of over 100 eDiscovery sources, including thought leaders, bloggers and general resources.
APPLY PEER PRESSURE HERE
Another, often undervalued, source for vendor information are your colleagues and peers.
Attorneys, particularly in large firms tend to shy away from asking others, sometimes due to a fear of not wanting to be classified as “not in the know”. To raise the comfort level of reaching out to others, consider asking colleagues in your working group, one of your fellow litigation support professionals or broaden your outreach to peers at other firms.
Industry events, seminars or other group meetings (think ABA or community events) can also prove to be a fruitful resource of information on who’s out there and what other’s experiences have been with a particular vendor.
If you have specific platform requirements (i.e. Relativity, IPRO, NUIX, Guidance, etc.), software providers also list technology partners on their websites. You can check the following sample websites for further information:
More recently, people are beginning to ask their corporate clients for a list of vendors they have worked with in the past. As corporations become more comfortable with eDiscovery, an increasing number of medium to large size organizations are getting more involved with the vendor selection and MSA/contracting process.
MAKING A DECISION
If you haven’t done so already, you should research your target list of vendors’ websites to dive deeper. See if they have published any valuable blogs, white papers and other topical or industry-related news and wisdom. Does the vendor offer short videos or articles, explaining their technology, process or service offerings? Also look for certifications awarded to the vendor from software providers (i.e. Best in Service awards, etc.). Shy away from a vendor that does not explain their technology, specific offerings or expertise online but in turn only offers “generic” buzz words or “vague” descriptions, trying to lure you into a sales call.