Thursday, June 11, 2015

eDiscovery Managed Services - Year 3: Would You Do It Again?

By R.P. Smith posted Mon, Mar 30, 2015 05:04 PM

Jones Walker officially began a Managed Services partnership with Iris Data Services in January of 2013.  Since that time we have experienced great success with the partnership and have freely shared our story with fellow ILTA members. Now in the 3rd year of our contract, I offer the following points in response to the several questions I have been asked by fellow ILTA members. 

1. Will you have a dedicated team supporting you?

Whether it is a dedicated team or a support pool, make sure you understand the level of support that will be provided as part of the managed services partnership.  Ask for an organizational chart for your support team so you know the players, their roles in supporting you, and where the escalation points are in the event that you need to escalate an issue up the chain.

2. Does your Service Level Agreement ("SLA") address response time as well as follow-up from the initial response?

A standard SLA will address the initial response time (e.g. "We have received your email/request….").  But you will want to request that it also addresses the timeframe for any subsequent updates (e.g. "We are still working on your request and will report back in 1 hour.").  This will likely take some negotiations so that the service provider can ensure that the requested follow-up does not interfere with their internal workflow and support efforts.  Requesting this additional communication provides you with the necessary information to proactively update your internal project teams.

3. Do you receive an allotment of project management hours as part of your managed services partnership? 

If you are allotted PM hours, follow this simple step….USE THEM!!!!  If you do not use PM hours offered as part of your partnership, you are throwing money out of the window each and every month.  These hours can be used for archiving data, creating custom database scripts, etc. 

 4. Will you be processing all data in-house, will the manages services partner process all of your data, or will you have a hybrid approach?

This should be addressed when determining your business needs.  There are so many variables that go into choosing a processing workflow and these can dovetail with your managed services partnership.  Options include processing behind your firewall using your own third-party software (LAW, Nuix, etc.) and transferring only the data that is to be loaded to the service provider, processing within the managed services environment using the features of your review software (if available), or having your managed services partner process using their enterprise level processing tools. Map your workflow and discuss the details with potential managed services partners so you ensure that your workflow is as efficient and economically sound as possible.

5. What level of involvement will you and your team have in the administration of the review platform?

Will you manage each workspace (loading, exporting, producing, troubleshooting) or will the managed services partner handle this for you similar to a standard per-project engagement?  Will you have rights to create/manage user accounts across your platform or will you need to request these services from the provider to the detriment of your monthly PM hours?  Some managed services partners allow you to fully manage your review platform, while some limit the administrative functions you can perform.  Again, this goes back to addressing your business needs.

6. What level of access will you have across the infrastructure of your managed services environment?

Will you have full administrative rights to all the servers in your environment?  If deploying a review platform with a SQL backend, will you be able to log into the SQL server and run queries?  The level of rights granted will depend on the managed services partner, but there are very few who currently allow this level of access.  We chose to have full access for complete transparency.  However, we share this access with Iris Data Services so they are able to keep the servers patched and updated for operations, security, and usability reasons.

7. Which tools/services are available through your partnership? 

Again, this directly correlates to the tasks you will handle internally vs. the tasks you will expect your managed services partner to handle for you (addressed at the onset when determining your business needs).  For instance, if you do not provide collection services in-house, does your managed services partner provide this service?  What if you receive MAC files, Lotus Notes NSF files, etc. -- do you have the necessary tools in-house to process these files?  If you cannot process these in-house, it would be helpful to review historical data and metrics to determine how often you have received these types of files in the past.  Does it make sense to procure the software or would it make more sense to have your managed services partner process these types of files for you?  Although we typically receive NSF files for multiple cases each year, we know that there are nuances with NSF files that are specific to the setup of each client and Domino server. For this reason, we have decided to leave this type of processing to the experts, so Iris processes these for us. 

8. Will you bill hosting costs to the client?

There is no easy answer to this question.  Advice, feedback and buy-in will be required from the head of your litigation department, CFO/COO, CIO, and other senior management in order to determine if a fee structure will work for your firm. 

As you can see, there are numerous factors to consider.  The most important part of the entire process is having a clear definition of your business needs.  Once you have your business needs established, the rest seems to fall into place.  So to answer the question, Yes, we most certainly would do it all over again!  Our partnership has been very successful and we are planning to offer more services sooner than we anticipated because of this success. 

By Guest Blogger: Iris Data Services, an Epiq Systems company