Managed Services is a Better Way to Address ESI Cost Uncertainties

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Generally speaking, I am not one to bet but if a group of law firm CIO’s, Practice Support Managers, eDdiscovery Counsel and others tasked with managing ESI were asked to name their biggest challenge, I would put money on cost certainty being the first or second most common response. Admittedly, this is not a risky wager since these folks are my clients with whom I work with on a daily basis. Not being a gambler, I tend to look for the safe bet, a trait common amongst this group of professionals who are increasingly betting on Managed Services to deliver on their critical objective of cost certainty.

All of us, either in our professional or personal lives, have had the experience of putting together a budget and then trying to manage expenses within the confines of that budget. And we’ve had the “fun” of dealing with unforeseen costs that undermine all our careful forecasting and planning and blow a big hole in the budget. In the context of managing ESI unpredictability abounds: rapidly expanding data volumes, complex nature of data, ever evolving technologies for filtering and reviewing data, just to name a few. The most common counter to such unpredictability is to put some extra sand in the budget, just-in-case-funds. Of course this is a gamble since there’s no way to know ahead of time if the coming year will feature a once in a decade or a once in a century flood and if you’ve allocated too much, too little or just the right amount of sand. More often than not it’s not the latter. And of course those funds have to just sit there in case they’re needed and cannot be used to address other needs.

So this begs the question: Is there a better way? The answer is: Yes, Managed Services. In a nutshell Managed Services is a dynamic and scalable eDiscovery and litigation support solution for law firms that delivers highly responsive services on demand and within budget. An engagement for a specified term, typically three years, which covers all services for an agreed upon volume of data at a set price. Among the more advantageous provisions of a Managed Services contract is the ability to purchase additional volume at reduced rates for unforeseen needs as well as the flexibility to rollover unused volume from year-to-year. Managed Services takes budgeting and forecasting of eDiscovery costs out of the realm of betting and places them where they belong, as reliable instruments in the tool kit of those responsible for ESI management.

Posted by Todd Haley, Vice President, Strategic Solutions, eTERA Consulting. Todd can be reached at

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