Can Do-It-Yourself Ediscovery Deliver? Considerations for Making the Switch

Tuesday, August 9, 2011 by Thought Leadership Team

With the proliferation of do-it-yourself discovery tools, companies and law firms are facing a tough question: When should we conduct discovery in-house and when should we outsource to a trusted service provider? The answer depends on a careful, case-by-case analysis.

Ediscovery projects force companies and law firms to balance competing interests. On one hand, organizations need to respond to requests for production in a timely and cost-effective manner. On the other hand, thriftiness and expedience cannot stand in the way of a thorough and defensible ediscovery process. In simple terms, ediscovery must be done economically and quickly, but it also must be done accurately.

Step One: Assess the Options & Benefits

There are solutions available in the market today that purport to provide technology that will solve ediscovery headaches and allow companies and law firms to conduct the entire process internally. Sometimes the technology delivers, sometimes it does not. Organizations must vet the technology in conjunction with the matters that might be brought in-house when determining whether to conduct do-it-yourself (DIY) discovery or outsource.DIY technology is installed software or remotely hosted as Software as a Service (SaaS) in which you conduct steps such as filtering and processing on your own, whereas an outsourced service is conducted solely by a service provider. The DIY solution is more limited in terms of computing power and bandwidth, but can prove to be both cost-effective and efficient in conducting discovery.An important benefit to DIY discovery is control. DIY technology users have the ultimate control over their data using one platform to conduct processing, filtering, review and production. A proper DIY tool will include real-time reporting and metrics, functionality and seamless transition across the EDRM, and will support matters of various sizes and complexity. After all, no ediscovery project is the same as another which mandates flexibility and functionality from any chosen DIY solution.

Step Two: Choosing if DIY is Right for You

DIY discovery will not be right for every ediscovery project, but it can be right for every organization, whether the matters are large or small. When considering a DIY solution, ask whether additional hardware, software or IT resources will be needed to support. Most IT departments are already overburdened, and if the solution requires additional commitments from the department, it is likely not the best investment for your organization. In addition, the DIY solution must complement any existing ediscovery software or hardware investments your organization has already made, achieving the goal of flexibility that is crucial with this move. Other considerations include whether automatic product upgrades and maintenance support are available, if there is secure access across departments and offices (including on a global scale) and the start-up time needed before the solution may be used.

Another important question: Will your data be secure? With news of several large-scale data breaches affecting major corporations over the past several months, law firms and companies have every right to be concerned regarding where their data will be stored and what security safeguards will be in place. A proper DIY solution will allow you to set up secure profiles on a global scale for your case team which includes those authorized to access the data. Further, when data is stored behind a service provider’s firewall, it is technically stored in the cloud. Cloud computing raises blood pressure for some in terms of uncertainty, which makes it positively essential to thoroughly vet your potential DIY service provider. Does the provider have a proven track record within the industry? Is the provider approved by the Cloud Security Alliance? Is the provider’s data centers capable of storing large amounts of data, staffed 24-7 and compliant with the most stringent security protocols? Finally, is the provider financially sound, or is there a chance it may go out of business, leaving your data floating in the clouds?

Step Three: Making the Switch to Outsourced

Suppose you have already taken the step to invest in a DIY solution. When, if ever, does it make sense to switch to using outsourced services during an ediscovery project? In simple terms, consider making the switch when the benefits of outsourcing – capacity, expertise, resources, etc. – outweigh the cost and benefits of conducting the matter in-house.

Ediscovery projects are hardly ever straightforward and easy to manage. There are a lot of “what ifs” inherent in ediscovery and deciding whether to switch to outsourced services. What if additional data sources are discovered, such as social media or text messages, that were not anticipated? What if additional custodians are uncovered that potentially multiply the data at stake exponentially? What if there is a change in the budget available for the project? What if there is an alteration in production deadlines that cannot be met using the DIY solution? What if the matter surpasses in-house technological or expertise capabilities? These “what ifs” should be answered proactively in a discovery plan if your organization will be utilizing a DIY solution. Brainstorming answers to these questions now, will help make the transition from DIY to outsourced easier, faster and more effective.


Do-it-yourself discovery is possible for any organization and presents several tangible benefits. However, it may not be right for every matter making it important for organizations to create a comprehensive, flexible ediscovery plan. Before choosing a DIY solution, consider the questions posed by this article and conduct a thorough vetting process of both the solution and the provider. Any provider worth their salt will be able to explain the features, functionality and benefits of DIY solutions, while also discussing if it is the right choice for your organization. Do the research, ask the hard questions and discover the vast benefits of DIY solutions.