Metrics, also known as key performance indicators or KPIs, are the silver bullet to continuous improvement – not to mention cost savings and budget control – for any ediscovery process. There’s nothing mysterious about measuring and analyzing data, but most organizations haven’t adopted a consistent metrics program despite the benefits because it can feel like an overwhelming process to set up. . If you’re not sure where to start, or if you’ve tried to start and haven’t gotten good results, it’s best to get a handle on what exactly ediscovery metrics are and what they’re used for.
Understanding Ediscovery Metrics and KPIs
While in the past legal departments were used to avoiding business-oriented measures, that approach is no longer an option for most in-house corporate legal teams. Long gone are the days where legal operated outside the discretion of corporate budgets. This increase in pressure to control costs has brought an increase in attention to the true costs of ediscovery.
The result is that many organizations are now gathering and tracking more data than ever before, enabling them to minimize unnecessary costs and optimize results. In-house legal teams that can effectively track their KPIs and quickly identify outlying high-cost processes can gain better control over their budgets and protect their spending. Despite the obvious benefits, many corporate legal teams still struggle to use metrics effectively, resulting in unnecessary spend that could be reinvested elsewhere.
Best Practices for Ediscovery Metrics
- Personalize Your Metrics To Your Unique Pain Points
Don’t worry about what anyone else is measuring, especially when you first begin. Determine what’s causing your organization the most headaches, the most unreasonable costs, or the using the most time and start there.
- Look For The Most Common Issues
Some areas have a disproportionate impact. When they’re working well, everything works better; when they’re off, everything falls apart. In ediscovery, legal holds are a perfect example. Without effective legal holds, there can be no collection or processing or review of data, much less production or presentation. If you can identify an important task that isn’t going well and measure an aspect of it, that may be an excellent starting point.
- Partner With Your IT Staff
You may have identified a terrific metric — except that you have no idea how to find the data for it. That’s where IT comes in. Work with them to establish your list of measures and to identify and gather the info that you need. Keep the lines of communication flowing freely in both directions: they’re likely to see different challenges than you do, which could lead to more varied and more useful metrics.
- Monitor Your Data Frequently, But With An Eye Toward The Long Term
This is definitely not a case of “set it and forget it” — you want to keep up with your KPIs so you can see anomalies as they emerge and determine what’s causing the departure. But don’t get too bogged down in minor variations that may be caused by differences in individual cases. Instead, watch for long-term patterns.
- Analyze What’s Driving Those Patterns
Approach your metrics like a scientist. If you see that your per-GB processing cost has skyrocketed in a case, take apart the inputs to determine which variable caused that change. Does this matter have a different primary data source or file type that’s more difficult or time-consuming to process? Is it something you could bring in-house to avoid those costs in the future? Brainstorm the reasons that a change might have occurred and then test your theories against your data.
Organizations that can effectively measure the cost and time invested throughout the ediscovery process can identify inefficiencies such as antiquated software, pricey vendors for outsourced processes, and time-intensive manual systems. They can also pinpoint areas where processes can be improved, for instance, defensibly deletion of outdated and redundant data, automating legal hold notifications, or preserving data in place. Meanwhile, they can also use these metrics to more accurately forecast case timelines and more effectively allocate staff resources to matters, saving the organization both time and money. Long story short, the upside is only up from here. What are you waiting for?