Anyone describing their services to a prospective client has a limited bandwidth (measured in time, concentration and the amount of detail which can be imparted and absorbed) available to them and, in focusing on the primary features and benefits, often skips the practical matters which will arise. The builder quoting for your attic room will concentrate on the design and the materials, and not describe the months of dirty boots going up and down your stairs; your property lawyer will not go into details of packing, removals and services disconnection when describing the conveyancing process; the surgeon will spare you the gory details of scalpels and clamps which will be used in your impending operation.
This is not necessarily a matter of concealment – to the expert doing this sort of thing all the time these minutiae are inevitable, and describing them seems to add little to the client’s expectations. Much the same can happen when an eDiscovery provider is describing its services and software: the focus is on the business case, the functionality and the output, with the front end of the process reduced to terms of art like “preservation”, “custodian” and “processing” which do not necessarily mean to the audience what they mean to the vendor.
I come across this when I speak to law firms. Those who invite me in to talk to them have very often already seen more than one demonstration, and have varying degrees of understanding and acceptance of both the need and the benefits of engaging one of those whom they have seen . A recurring question, however, is “What actually happens to my clients’ data when I instruct a software and services provider?”. They envisage, perhaps, the day when they will ring up a client and advise them that the disclosure in their case should be managed electronically. “All right”, says the client, perhaps, “What happens now?”
It is to address this situation that I have written a paper in conjunction with Deborah Blaxell of Epiq Systems in London, with that question “What actually happens to my clients’ data when I instruct a software and services provider?” as its title. The paper takes a typical scenario – employees suspected of wrongdoing – and describes what Epiq and other top-tier providers of technology and disclosure management solutions would be expected to do in response, from immediate discussions to identifying the presumed scope of the investigation and making a plan, through preservation and collection and into the various stages which follow.
You can download the paper here.