One of my first jobs was in technical support, which, as you can imagine, is one of the least glamorous jobs at any company. Tech support, like legal, can often be considered a cost center rather than a revenue driver. This meant it felt like our department had to work double-time to justify a new software investment, even when it would have streamlined our processes and given us the ability to escalate urgent issues quicker.
The right tech support technology for our department, as non-glamorous as it was, could have saved the company serious money. But at the time I just didn’t have the language or business savvy to know how to advocate for the purchase outside of my team.
Navigating Competing Priorities
As we talk to corporate legal professionals, we hear a similar message: “our team is ready, but how do we convince our organization it’s time to invest in ediscovery software?”
Paralegals know that managing legal holds would be so much more efficient if you could automate your follow-ups. Attorneys are aware that there’s a significant risk in using manual, error-prone processes without an audit trail. And with those hefty fees for processing and hosting ediscovery data, you know that you could save so much money if you could do more of it in-house.
Yet, with so many competing company priorities, it can be challenging to build the case for new tools when you’re in the trenches every day. While the benefit of in-house ediscovery software might be evident to your team, you need to make a compelling business case as to why it’s a good investment for the business as a whole! After all, ediscovery is a significant portion of the legal budget, and no one wants to be sanctioned for spoliation of evidence.
The key is making your case clear for anyone, even someone who is not in the legal department, to understand the value that the software will deliver. And the best way to do this is to focus on two things: cost and risk.
The Cost Component
Costs can be broken down into two components: hard costs and soft costs. Your hard costs are what show up on your bill from your ediscovery service provider, whereas your soft costs are based on the amount of time your team spends performing ediscovery-related tasks.
We recommend following these four steps to help you evaluate your costs and estimate your potential savings:
- Understand how much you are currently spending on ediscovery, including hard costs and soft costs. Summarize your average cost per matter for the past few years.
- Analyze key trends. Is the amount of data per matter increasing? Are the number of litigation events increasing? What about the number of information requests, or subpoena requests?
- Outline your expected cost savings associated with in-house ediscovery software. For example, how much could you reduce your data volumes by pre-processing? How many matters are currently sent to outside counsel that could feasibly be taken in-house? What time-savings can you expect with automated legal hold software
- Once the software is selected, and a quote is given, perform an ROI analysis to determine the investment’s payback time.
(If all this sounds intimidating, have no fear! Zapproved can provide you with a free ROI analysis that you can take back to your team.)
The Risk Component
There are many established practices that can help you identify, assess, and communicate risk. We recommend you start with a risk assessment, which is an exercise you can do yourself or with your team that includes:
- Identifying risks
- Determining their likelihood to occur
- Understanding the consequences if that risk occurs
- Recommending how to mitigate the risk
By clearly documenting and assessing risks, it will help stakeholders outside of your department grasp the impact of specific mitigation strategies.
You can use a risk assessment, for instance, to make it clear that the right software can improve data security, automate error-prone processes, and create defensible audit trails.