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Ask the Right Questions: From RFP to eDiscovery Process Transformation

Law firms and corporations use RFPs to invite promising eDiscovery vendors into a deeper discussion.

The scope of RFPs can differ significantly based on an organization’s objectives, whether to reduce overall costs, have more control over their or their clients’ data, bring efficiencies and/or standardization to eDiscovery processes, or even to assess the gap between their needs and an eDiscovery provider’s capabilities. Some invite proposals for
end-to-end eDiscovery services or hosted review, some for review platforms, and some for completely outsourced managed services.

While an effective eDiscovery RFP can compare each vendor in a standardized, data-driven manner in order to identify the provider that best fits a legal department or law firm’s requirements, they often fall short in addressing a legal department’s or law firm’s needs across all casework.

What’s the Problem?
Many eDiscovery products and services are similar, making it difficult to differentiate in order to select the optimal solution for your requirements. The trouble with most RFPs is that they focus “table stakes,” that is, the basic capabilities of a vendor and its products and/or services, because that’s how it’s always been done (i.e., soliciting detailed information about the company, product roadmap, functional capabilities and features, technical requirements, customer references, levels of support, and pricing models). Moreover, comparing bids from different eDiscovery providers on an “apples to apples” basis can be difficult since each vendor, despite like products and/or services, seems to have a unique pricing structure.

Finally, RFPs often focus on capabilities on a matter-by-matter basis; even if the overall goal is to solicit providers that holistically address a legal department’s or law firm’s entire case load—including technology, data across matters, and vendors—solutions until now have been limited.

The answer isn’t to ask more detailed questions; most RFPs are plenty detailed already. Rather, it’s to look innovative developments in eDiscovery and ensure you are capturing the right set of questions in your RFP.

What’s the Answer? Clarify Your Goals by Solution, Not Feature
Think beyond technology feature upgrades and service level agreements. Every RFP team decides on their goals before writing the document. Make sure yours are optimal goals for eDiscovery, not just familiar ones. Be very clear on those needs and how the winning service provider will meet them.

For example, is your goal to:

    • Gain transparency across all casework—not just individual matters–including data volumes, users, and other metrics, for better decision-making?
    • Re-use data across current and future matters for more cost-savings associated with document review?
    • Apply a proven workflow to all cases for greater efficiencies and defensibility?
    • Cut document review time and/or increase document review rates (including better coding consistency and quality control)?
  • Have more effective keyword search, or advanced search and algorithms to more quickly and accurately cull large data sets?

Objectives like these cut right to the heart of your eDiscovery needs, and arm you with the right questions to ask.

5 Game-Changer Questions to Include in Your Next RFP
Continue to ask your questions about the basics. But don’t stop there. Ask solution-themed questions around emerging big data analytics and other emerging solutions that can be game-changers for you.

Ask questions like these:

1. Does your product aggregate data across matters in a single repository?

2. How does the solution apply existing work product and decisions across multiple review data sets across cases, vendors and platforms?

3. How does the solution predict relevance and privilege for future cases?

4. How is inconsistent coding flagged within the same or similar matters for enhanced accuracy and QC?

5. Does the product or service present a consolidated management view across your eDiscovery projects and resources, with real-time actionable visibility and transparency? What levels of administrative control can end-users access?

A comprehensive and detailed eDiscovery RFP that includes questions like these is likely to get you far beyond where you are today, and enable you to achieve your best goals—not to mention potential cost-savings of up to 40% across all casework. Don’t simply upgrade your eDiscovery environment by doing RFPs the same old way. Know the right questions to ask, and transform your eDiscovery process.