A common complaint we hear from clients and prospects is that there is still a black-box perception around many facets of ediscovery. Most notably, the cost of services and the related ways those costs are driven among providers.
Today, data exists in many disparate places and is most often shared in spreadsheets with no contextual framework or comparative metrics. Often times, you’re paying vendors to provide reporting, but only receive snapshots of information that represents a single piece of a much larger puzzle. For example, you receive invoices that include volumes and the cost associated with each of those volumes, but no easy way to compare that cost with other projects or services. Couple that cryptic monthly financial information with the plethora of other reporting within your program and you have a number of different types and styles of reports all lacking the visual reporting we have come to expect in other facets of business and our personal lives.
It should not be this difficult.
Analysts echo the importance of graphically representing your progress towards goals and using data visualization to tease out trends. To that end, be vocal about the types of information you want to view and why. Many years ago we heard a quote at a reporting conference, “…too much data is as useless as none at all”. Navigating through information without zeroing in on what is important to your business or identifying places where data can help you make actionable decisions doesn’t make sense. It is easy to get lost in the ocean of information without a guiding light.
Make sure you are focused on the right metrics. It is critical to understand your cost drivers and create a view of that information that can inform and direct your team’s decisions. Some of you have resorted to dedicating resources to products that provide some visual assistance with your analytics. However, that’s a very expensive approach and doesn’t address the underlying problem, which is that ediscovery providers haven’t wrangled and tamed the full picture of data output necessary to push our industry forward as a better, collective whole.
Be assertive. Require your provider to do better than simply drop your metrics into an Excel document, leaving you to create charts, graphs, and pivot tables that, again, only represent one snapshot in time. This approach places too much of a burden on you to transform that information into a format that you can use to make decisions. Instead, vendors should provide a platform that turns hundreds (or thousands) of rows of data into an organized dashboard that not only logically presents the data in the format that matters to you, but also updates in real time.
Demand that your provider offer clear, visual reports to standardize the terminology, volume types, and output of these disparate systems. This will allow you to view data in a more digestible way and create efficiencies for your program when combining this information.
Visual reporting is the new normal and is shining a light on the ediscovery market as whole. It will not only help drive consistency around metrics provided by vendors, but also draw clarity around what information is important to enable you to truly affect your ediscovery strategy. This may fundamentally change the market and help us all step outside of the “black box.”