Project Management Redux

The most recent Socha-Gelbman survey stated that “project management has grown in prominence as a means to minimize missteps and deliver more predictable, reliable, and cost-effective results.” And PM is certainly getting attention these days thanks to a good discussion at The Delaware E-Discovery Report and the results of a survey released by Applied discovery. But the discussions are not all positive. In the Delaware ED Report, Paul Easton said, “implementing project management software does not equal implementing project management” and the AD survey found that although 87% of respondents considered project management a critical component of their ED projects, only 8% were satisfied with the clarity of objectives and plans defined in their last e-discovery project.

So if we all know that PM is good why aren’t we doing it better? Part of the problem, it seems to me, is that we are lacking a specific definition of the phrase. As Brett Burney points out in his article The Emerging Field of Electronic Discovery Project Management, “ Formal project management, however, is a recognized professional discipline, complete with educational requirements (Project Management Professional or PMP) and an oversight body called the Project Management Institute (PMI).” Yet I have never heard of a law firm utilizing those standards in designing a project scope or specifications.

Why? Well as Conrad Jacoby says in his article on LLRX called Applying Project Management Techniques to Litigation Discovery, litigation team leadership “often only has time to focus on the highest priority projects and problems.” This dichotomy really highlights the fact that technology tools are just one component of success in e-discovery. Every case is different and there is no cookie cutter application or device that meets the challenges of each of those cases.

The fact is that advice from a good consultant ( like those mentioned here or well myself) is necessary for assistance with project planning, including data scoping, choice of document review methodologies and project training. Given the rise in number and complexity of ED specific applications, the need for good consulting services is at an all time high in order to select the best choices for the workflow of your particular matter. So take a look at the articles mentioned above, start assessing your projects and get the advice of a good consultant to help you decide how best to proceed.

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