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eDiscovery Maturity Model

We all have a vague sense of how well things are going at work. Some projects may not come together as well as others which are less complex or which we have more time to concentrate on. Hopefully over time as we become more experienced, and with help from our co-workers we're able to develop a more organized approach to projects which re-occur on a regular basis. The eDiscovery Maturity Model is a useful way to track how the efficiency electronic discovery or legal work in general can be enhanced.

The model was created by Adam Hurwitz of BIA (Business Intelligence Associates, Inc.) and has been included in the EDRM White Paper Series.

The model depicts five levels of efficiency which each consider the factors of focus, strategy, expertise, and costs.

1. Ad Hoc, Chaotic

2. Managed

3. Standardized

4. Semi-integrated

5. Integrated and Optimizing.

We've all been at Level 1. At the beginning of our careers, or simply when more work is thrown at us than we can handle, it's hard to avoid simply moving point to point along the most easily apparent path to finish a project. You want to "just get it done". There's no time to find outside help - or figure out who can really help - and "individual heroics" are required. You're not calling upon memories of past projects, and you have to figure out how things are done as you go along - no expertise is involved. The project is begun without any idea of how much it will cost in the end. From the perspective of a company performing electronic discovery, this is when their IT collects data from different custodians at different times and using a variety of techniques to do so.

Our aim, perhaps never perfectly achieved for all projects, is to refine our focus. We not only plan more for projects, but adhere to standardized procedures, automate some tasks, and integrate our efforts with those of others.

A more mature strategy over time will move from many vendors being tried by outside counsel; to trusted vendors being preferred; to in-house abilities being developed so that vendors only need to employed in certain situations.

The top electronic discovery expert may at first be the most capable person at a law firm, but later on vendor specialists may be engaged, with an expert team ultimately being created involving members of both the legal and IT team of a company.

Costs can first be controlled with budgets being developed for specific projects, and then ways can be found to implement cost saving measures. Ideally the costs of electronic discovery can be part of the IT budget.

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