Trust the Process

By: Doug Kaminski
Chief Revenue Officer, Cobra Legal Solutions

Trust the Process, Because Processes Have to Evolve to Lead to Improvement.

We’re in the midst of the NBA basketball playoffs and the top seed in the Eastern Conference this year is the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers used to be bad – really bad. They won just ten games in an 82-game season a mere five years ago. Back then, their general manager talked about trusting the process to building a better team and one of his first draft picks, Joel Embiid, was a player that (due to injuries) didn’t even play for two seasons. Echoing their GM, Embiid encouraged fans to “trust the process”. Embiid became the player most associated with the process and even adopted “The Process” as his nickname. When he finally played, he developed into one of the best players in the NBA.

Sometimes, processes have to evolve to enable organizations to do things better. We may “trust the process”, but if we don’t continue to evolve the process, that process may cause us to fall behind and be less efficient than we can be. From an eDiscovery standpoint, processes are always evolving. Here are examples of how eDiscovery processes have evolved in recent years.

EDISCOVERY PROCESS EVOLUTION

In looking at how eDiscovery processes have evolved, let’s take a look at them phase-by-phase:

Information Governance: The process associated with InfoGov used to be primarily procedural, which is why the term “records management” used to be synonymous with “information governance”. Not anymore. Now, effective information governance leverages technology to enable companies to identify where important and sensitive data is located within the company and also helps identify data that can be defensibly deleted. You can’t have an effective InfoGov program any more without leveraging technology.

Identification and Preservation: As we recently discussed in this post, a recent phenomenon in legal hold management is to identify, lock down and preserve ESI in place in the cloud enterprise systems that organizations use every day to govern their information. This is not only the evolution of one process – it’s the linking of three processes more and more into one: InfoGov, Identification and Preservation. Now, that’s process improvement!

Collection: Collection of ESI used to be performed at a custodian level, and it often had to performed in person, by collection specialists going to offices to physically collect entire data stores from custodians, which was inefficient and expensive. Today, collections are performed largely remotely and because of data preserved in place, can be limited to targeted data likely to be responsive to the goals for the discovery effort. Mass collections are no longer required.

Processing: This phase even has the word “process” in it. Remember the days when processing platforms used to be separate from review platforms and you had to transfer data from the processing platform to the review platform – manually? Now, they’re integrated and processing has continued to become more efficient and effective as computer processors (there’s what word again) become more powerful.

Analysis: The ability to perform analytics on the data associated with your eDiscovery projects has grown by leaps and bounds. Dashboards are common these days at a project level or even across all projects or cases. Artificial intelligence analytics are being introduced in more and more areas of the eDiscovery workflow. This process may be evolving more than any other.

Review: Certainly, review has evolved considerably with review teams able to work remotely, able to leverage predictive coding technologies and able to track metrics associated with the review process to continue to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of review.

Production: Remember how productions used to be delivered? In a series of CD or DVD disks? Now, they can be delivered securely via secured file transfer protocols (SFTP) without leaving your desk.

Presentation: Even presentation has evolved – during the pandemic, we are conducting more hearings, depositions and even some trials via web conferencing. Despite the challenges of a pandemic, process improvement still found a way to get the job done and virtual presentations events are here to stay.

Process improvement doesn’t happen in a vacuum – it happens through experts understanding process optimization and how to leverage technology to make those processes more efficient and cost effective. There are experts who are immersed in eDiscovery processes and workflows, who understand technology and work with their clients in order to improve processes for those clients. Technology + Expertise = Process Improvement. So, trust the process. It worked for Joel Embiid and the 76ers!

For more information about Cobra’s Dedicated Resources and Legal Process Optimization services, click here.

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