Do the Math, Think Fractional

When it Comes to Timely Project Management for Discovery, Do the Math and Think Fractional

By: Doug Kaminski
Chief Revenue Officer, Cobra Legal Solutions

eDiscovery case law is rife with cautionary tales of significant mistakes in eDiscovery that were made that cost the parties dearly – sometimes even the case itself.  In this case ruling from earlier this year, counsel for the defendants made so many mistakes that the court ordered them to complete at least eight hours of CLE on electronically stored information (ESI) by the end of the year.

No firm wants to on the receiving end of a court order like that.  To avoid outcomes like these, eDiscovery for each case needs to be treated like a project and there’s no substitute for an experienced and knowledgeable project manager to oversee a level of due diligence during key phases within an eDiscovery project.  Does that mean that every firm needs to hire an experienced eDiscovery project manager to avoid major mistakes in eDiscovery?  Not necessarily.

Leveraging Fractional Leadership

An emerging trend in an increasing number of organizations today is leveraging fractional leadership.  At the top levels of an organization, fractional leadership is the practice of hiring external experienced C-level executives to fill leadership gaps in your business on an as needed basis.  Fractional leadership is becoming more popular as an effective way to grow and scale your business without the commitment and risk associated with bringing on a full time C-level person.  Organizations are leveraging fractional leaders at every level of the C-Suite, including CTO for technology, CMO for marketing, COO for operations and even CEO!  Fractional leaders make sense when an organization is looking to fill a specific leadership need quickly or to obtain additional assistance to get a specific program up and running.

Applying Fractional Leadership to Project Management

The same concept can be applied to firms looking for project management assistance.  Just like with organizations looking for fractional leaders to fill a specific C-suite role, fractional project management is a way for those firms to get the project management skills they need when they need it – to help ensure a successful outcome for complex eDiscovery projects, and the case overall.  The benefits of fractional project management include:

  • Timing: Hiring an experienced project manager takes time, especially in the current environment. There’s the time to write the job description, to review resumes, time to schedule candidate interviews, to do background checks, etc.  It can take weeks or even months to find the right candidate.  With the Rule 26(f) “meet and confer” conference to be conducted “at least 21 days before a scheduling conference is to be held or a scheduling order is due”, any delays can put your firm behind in discovery and it may never recover.  When you have a major eDiscovery project that must get started quickly, a fractional project manager can step in and support those needs right away.
  • Flexibility: With fractional project management services, you have the flexibility to use those services when you need them and then discontinue use when you don’t. No concerns about layoffs, firing, severance pay, or other considerations associated with hired project managers.  The average cost of a bad hire is up to 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings according to the U.S. Department of Labor.  With experienced project managers in significant demand currently, that can be quite an expense.
  • Expertise: Leveraging fractional project management services from a provider with experienced and proven project management professionals will lend expertise to a team to avoid the types of eDiscovery mistakes referenced above.
  • Objectivity: Another benefit of fractional project management services is the objectivity of someone who is unencumbered by dynamics within an organization. The fractional project manager can be the “fresh set of eyes” or “fresh voice” that is needed for a firm to look at the considerations of a case differently.
  • Cost Savings: Of course, this is the biggest benefit of fractional project management services. Paying only for what expertise you need when needed is the cost savings for firms that don’t have those needs every day.  Why pay a project manager as an employee during times when project work has slowed down?


When you need timely project management services to be up and running in a fraction of the time – and usually a fraction of the cost long term – consider fractional project management services.  Sometimes, a fraction creates more value than the whole to support your firm’s needs.  Do the math and think fractional!

For more information about Cobra’s Project Management services as part of our eDiscovery offerings, click here.

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