Last week, I posted about ten eDiscovery project management tips, then asked for additional tips on this blog (which I always do) and also via LinkedIn. And you provided several great additional tips, plus I thought of a couple more myself. So, here are ten more project management tips for more successful eDiscovery projects!
Ten More Project Management Tips for eDiscovery
1. Understand/consider your stakeholders: This is one I considered but didn’t include on my original list of ten, so I’m not surprised that others mentioned this one. When it comes to eDiscovery projects (or Information Governance initiatives), understanding who your stakeholders are and what’s important to them is a big key to success. These two posts discuss how to get a “Clue” about your eDiscovery stakeholders! Hat’s off to Mike Quartararo, Helen Geib and Nick Inglis for their mention of this key tip.
2. Review options with your clients at the outset of a project: Certainly, every project is different – even for the same client. The type of matter, sources of data, custodians, timeline, and budget/geographic constraints all can impact how you proceed. So, it’s important to review options with your client at the outset of the project to layout the options for the client including the risks, benefits and costs to enable them to make an informed decision on things like ESI protocol. Great suggestion by Sarah Thompson.
3. Embrace/understand your data experts: Part of staying on top of technology trends (which was part of tip #4 last time) is bringing in your subject matter expert (SME) when needed. That not only goes for the technology, but also goes for understanding the data itself, especially when dealing with a newer type of ESI that you may be unfamiliar with. Thanks for that tip, Catherine “CAT” Casey!
4. Regular reporting/status communication: When talking about communications, my tip last time was certainly limited as I only covered timelines and scope. Regular status reporting is key as well, and it’s important to coordinate with the client up front on frequency and format of status updates. This also includes tying to and updating the overall project plan (because they can change over the course of the project. Brent Gustafson and Virginia Weeks provided good points related to this tip.
5. Identify, track and measure KPIs: Related to the previous point is Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) by which we all track our effectiveness as a team. Your clients (and your boss) are going to boil down your effectiveness to key KPIs that will be tracked, so it’s important to identify them at the outset, make sure you have a way to track and report on them effectively and then include that in your reporting. Thanks, Jim Gill, for a tip that really measured up! 😉
6. Document thoroughly: In addition to all the other documentation we’ve discussed, it’s a good general rule to document, document, document. Document procedures, document decisions, document anything that might be important later for reference or learning purposes. Some of your processes might involve a 70-step checklist as one person commented. And you need that documentation in case you get hit by a bus (another said). Julie Enez, Cristin Traylor, Sheila Grela, Jonathan Maas and Stephanie Clerkin all had great points on this one.
7. Expect the unexpected: Oh, by the way, one of the most likely areas of management you’ll have to address is change management. Unexpected things will happen, so it’s best to be prepared for them. Jonathan Maas, Aaron Taylor and Yitzy Nissenbaum all had great points here. One of the best ways to be prepared for the unexpected is to conduct a “pre-mortem” at the beginning of a project. Different from the post-mortem done at the end of the project, this one is an exercise to identify potential risks and then what steps will be taken to minimize those risks. A “pre-mortem” can help anticipate some of the issues you might encounter and address them proactively.
Here are three others I identified:
8. Manage your meetings effectively: One of the best management techniques starts with effective meetings. Establishing a process for effective meetings, with a timed agenda sent in advance of the meeting, a designated timekeeper to keep the topics moving, a designated note taker to document any decisions and action items and a plan for parking lot of items that will have to be deferred to another discussion. To respect everybody’s time, meetings should start on time and not go past the designated time for the meeting, except for unusual circumstances.
9. Always look to improve workflows: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: eDiscovery is about workflows. It’s important to keep an eye on bottlenecks in your workflows and look to address those proactively, leveraging technology and automation to the fullest to streamline your eDiscovery workflows.
10. Always be learning: If Alec Baldwin were here, he would say Always Be Cobbling, er, Closing, er Learning. 😉 If you stop learning, you fall behind. So, don’t stop, and don’t assume you know everything – nobody does.
So, what do you think of ten more project management tips for eDiscovery? Do you have any others? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.
Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.
The entire list you’ve compiled is a great compilation for best practices in conducting a project. Many of the tips fall within the range of QC activities, maybe compiled into the concept of a condensed idea of “3 C’s” or “Check, Change, & Continue”. Basically, it represents 1) Checking your progress or output to date; 2) Conduct change management as needed; and 3) Continue your updated processes. This process rolled into the QC concept is really something that becomes (or should become) second nature to Project Managers.
I’ve enjoyed your posts on this topic…well done!