The NZ E-Discovery Blog  Facilitating proportionate and efficient e-discovery

Don’t let your choice of eDiscovery software turn into the next Novopay situation !

March 7th, 2013

When deploying eDiscovery software, no one wants a repeat of the current Novopay situation.

Deciding upon the right ediscovery software can be a challenge for law firms, as it can be a complicated and burdensome process. There are many e-discovery software options available – it is just a matter of finding the right software to suit your individual requirements.

Selecting the right software will give firms a considerable advantage in tackling litigation. E-Discovery software can significantly ‘level the playing field’ for smaller firms in managing litigation as they look to compete with larger firms that may have more resources.

Get advice before you buy

There is no one right approach, but it is important to get independent advice to help you make an informed decision on the right software for you.

Get the advice first about the right solution for you and then make the purchase – unfortunately many make the purchase and then get the advice afterwards.

When things go wrong, it is usually the same story from the law firm – the person selling me the software, didn’t tell me that, or they didn’t tell me it couldn’t do that. It is important to realise that these people are selling the product and (understandably) they will have a vested interest that you purchase their product over other options.

It may not be that you were misled, or it may be that the full picture was not totally explained to you. Implementation and maintenance issues are areas that are frequently glossed over. Some e-discovery products require dedicated resource, even litigation support departments to run effectively – something that is not always made clear at the outset.

This is where it is essential to get an independent assessment on both the benefits and limitations of a product, to enable you to make an informed decision. You can get an unbiased appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of a product – a lot more informative than what you would receive than from someone directly selling a product. All of this can be assessed and explained in plain english !

Does the product actually work?

Many firms have been exposed by their choice of e-discovery software. Usually this is down to the firm not fully understanding their own requirements, coupled with appreciating the options that are available.

Over the years many products have not been invested in, whilst other products have emerged, or advanced. Something that is not always explained to the ‘buyer’.

Some new products may have known issues (or ‘bugs’), which can present a significant disruption to your organisation. I have witnessed organisations (here in New Zealand) learn this the hard way and only find out about the issues after they have rolled the software out – essentially they are left with a product that doesn’t operate as it was supposed to.

One of my words of advice to anyone that is considering a new product or a ‘new version’ of a product, is do not be the first to ‘test drive’ it. It is important to wait until the product has been used elsewhere and any issues have been ironed out. 

It is important to find out about all of these considerations, prior to embarking on purchasing and rolling out your eDiscovery solution.

A shift to hosted solutions

I explained in an earlier post about the benefits and limitations of an in-house solution compared to a hosted option. One common trend that I am finding in New Zealand is that 2 years ago most organisations (about 80%) wanted to have the product in-house and have full control over it, but now that has totally changed as in excess of 80% of firms are looking to hosted options.

The main appeal of the hosted model is the straight disbursements, as well as not requiring internal expertise to maintain and operate the software. This frees up law firms to focus on legal work and not being burdened by document management and IT infrastructure issues.

It also allows the firm to the option of moving to another product that may more suit the current requirements.

Don’t be forced to shape your practice around your software?

Find a product that suits your requirements, instead of changing your requirements to what a product is capable of.

I find many law firms look to change their processes to what their e-discovery software can do. This is instead of finding the most suitable software to suit their requirements and practices.

A product that may have been the right selection 10 years ago may no longer be the right solution.

Keep up with developments

Technology evolves, so it is important to keep abreast of these developments.

Even if you are not looking at changing products, it is important to regularly keep up with the options available. The e-discovery landscape is dramatically changing with many new products with new features emerging all of the time.

Firms will also find it beneficial to learn more about the software developments, even if it is to just know more about what their competitors may be using

If you are looking for an eDiscovery solution, you should consider seeking independent advice prior to doing so, at least to avoid the chance of a repeat of the Novopay situation.



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