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

What to look for in eDiscovery software?

June 23rd, 2021

Evaluating your eDiscovery software options every 12-24 months should be on the mind of everyone undertaking eDiscovery to ensure you are using the most suitable eDiscovery option(s) available.

I think we get the why we need to re-evaluate eDiscovery software, now I think it is important to look further into what to potentially look for in choosing the right eDiscovery option for you.

It has never been a better time to explore eDiscovery software as the options available are greatly superior, intuitive, and cheaper than what was available only a few years back. With so many options available, what to look for and the choice of software can be harder.

First it is important to understand what you are looking for and what functionality is right for you. Your requirements may be completely different to a firm up the road, and as such so may be your choice of eDiscovery software.

Again it is important to find the right solution for you, however you need to know what to look for. Soo often the technology is looked at first, or you may have an ‘enthusiastic’ sales person justifying the incredible offering they have to solve all of your problems. Firstly, understand your pain points, together with what functionality you need – then, and only then find a solution to make your job easier.

There is no ‘one size fits all approach’ when it comes to eDiscovery software (again, I am sure many a salesperson has told you there product is all you need !). Each product has slightly different features, with some better suited to certain matters more than others.

What may have worked for you 5 years ago, may not be right for you today or even in the future – especially with the increasing volumes of information in all eDiscovery matters.

Too often I see firms persist with existing software when its capabilities are limited. How they work is dictated by and considerably impacted by the limitations of their existing software. Their litigation practices then get shaped around the capabilities of their existing eDiscovery software, instead of finding a solution that compliments how they work.

To help you get started, some of the following may be worth exploring further –

What are you pain points?

Just as with any software, it is important to understand what problems you want to solve, together with what outcome you are looking to achieve. It may be that the software is not the issue, instead some incremental improvement of your existing practices may be all that is required. Some of these improvements may be some easy wins.

What tasks do you need to use the software for?

As mentioned previously, some do work outside of the eDiscovery software, or only use the software later in the discovery process. Others want to make comprehensive use of the software from analysis, filtering, searching, review and production of the documents.

What features do you need?

Some products will have great features including in depth analysis tools, email threading, near duplicate detection and predictive coding and many more. Again it is important to understand what of these features you will actually need and use, or are they more nice to have.

Sometimes just because something is new and shiny, it doesn’t always mean you need this. Again, it is about what you need, not necessarily about what the over eager salesperson may be telling you what you need. Often even on the most advanced eDiscovery software options, you will be amazed that some of the more advanced features are not used – in saying that for many it is still the comfort of knowing these features are there if you require them.

Is the software intuitive?

In the past a lot of eDiscovery software was complicated and not that intuitive to use, often this was a barrier to wider adoption. Luckily, this has improved significantly in recent years, as most products are more intuitive and have improved the user experience – not dissimilar to other technology that is user friendly and easy to navigate your way around. It is important to realise it will be intuitive for all the people that you will have accessing, or can some features be turned off if it may jeopardise their experience and adoption.

Is the product scalable?

Can the product work on matters that have different requirements – i.e. the volume of data increasing, more users requiring access and the potential of needing more sophisticated functionality. Again if the product can address these as a norm, can they scale back to more straightforward requirements, or are you best suited to a more basic solution?

What is the pricing structure – how much will it cost me and my client?

Is it a simple monthly price regardless of data size or users? Alternatively (which is more common these days), is essentially a per GB monthly pricing model – i.e. the more data you have the more it will cost. With whatever the pricing structure is, it is best to find out about this upfront, rather than have unexpected costs for you and your client down the track.

Are there any hidden costs?

Are all of the features in the price, or are you required to pay extra to use advanced features. It is really important to have a comprehensive understanding of how each provider charges for their services. It is fair to say that you are not always comparing apples with apples, and the complicated pricing models is something that you really need to understand as the costs can blow out significantly. Again it is just being informed about this at the outset so there are no nasty surprises when the invoice comes in.

If you are not sure of the potential pricing, then get some independent advice !

How is the product supported?

One of the problems with a lot of eDiscovery software in the past was that it required hours of training before you could get going, and then to perform most tasks in the software you required the help of a 3rd party. This is no longer the case for a lot of software as you can train yourself with intuitive videos, and you can have as much control over what you do as you want.  Of course, some do not want to be self-sufficient and require dedicated training and ‘hand holding’ then these options are also available – although you need to appreciate the potential additional cost. Sometimes there is the hybrid option of more support as you get started, to being more self-sufficient over time, or at least having someone in your organisation that becomes your ‘eDiscovery champion’.

What is on the road map for the product and the organistion providing it?

Is the company innovating and looking to improve their offering? It is always good to understand what is on the roadmap for the software. If the product doesn’t have features, that you may not need now but may in the future – it is good to know they are on the horizon.

Will they be around tomorrow? It may sound a bit drastic, but there has been a lot of change with eDiscovery companies and acquisitions of.

With this, are they transparent and keep you informed of what is going on?

Will you have the latest features?

When they roll out new features, are these rolled out automatically for you to take advantage of, or does it require a long burdensome upgrade to access the latest updates?

Conclusion

Knowing what your requirements are and what to look for is crucial before you start the process of exploring the eDiscovery options available. Know this first, then you will be in a much more informed position to explore the eDiscovery options.

In your evaluation process it is important to seek impartial advice to help you evaluate your best options – not just from those selling the product ! Please do reach out if you would like help in exploring what you should be looking for in eDiscovery software to suit your requirements

Once you understand this, now it is about how to get started…

 

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