Business processes, functioning smoothly, are often referred to as “well-oiled machines.” But in today’s landscape, with millions of files, thousands of custodians, and any number of processes connecting all of them in motion—we’ve outgrown the machine metaphor in e-discovery. Not even a whole factory can cover it anymore.
To be effective in their day-to-day operations, legal departments must think seriously not just about the facts and merits of each case, but the overarching strategy they’ll use to work their way to a resolution. A consistent approach will streamline each step and ensure greater knowledge sharing across projects. But how do these teams know where to begin building a unified strategy? It starts with the technology they’ll use to facilitate it.
To put a more helpful metaphor behind this concept, consider this: Organizations can look like one of three types of community when it comes to their legal tech stack.
Legal teams can be like a city, filled with diverse networks of infrastructure and millions of touchpoints. Sure, some cohesion exists, but not much. There are innumerable ways to get from point A to point B. There are hundreds of different kinds of buildings: houses, office buildings, apartments, restaurants. Thousands of people can be in a given building at any time, but they may never cross paths at all.
Organizations that are like cities have all the tech they need, but there’s no consistency to how it’s used. Everyone has their own preferred path. People migrate data back and forth via many different workflows. Coworkers might use two different pieces of tech to achieve the same goal, simply because many options are available with no single source of truth to guide them. Although city-like organizations appear robust and well-supplied, there is no good system in place to work holistically. Everyone works side-by-side, but not necessarily together.
Other organizations can be like a neighborhood: smaller scale than a city, but still complex. While it may seem like a neighborhood would function like a tight-knit community, as you zoom in, you can see that it isn’t quite as unified as you may have thought. Each block works pretty independently, rarely speaking with their neighbors or comparing notes on strategy.
Organizations that are like neighborhoods have done a great job slimming down their tech stack and creating a few basic processes for working between them, but having multiple systems naturally begets an unclear understanding of your investments, causing some siloing at best—or chaos, at worst.
Finally, organizations can be like a house. There is a clearly defined unit of people who come and go, but communicate well as they do so. Each room serves a purpose, and everyone moves through rooms in one streamlined way. Although chaos has the potential to ensue in a house, it is contained to a controlled environment.
Organizations that are like houses have a slim, well-organized tech stack. There are clear processes for moving data and, because each source and step is clearly outlined and discussed often amongst everyone in the household, these teams are confident that their data is protected. They have a centralized system with which they can always know who is accessing that data—and it’s easy for everyone to name every piece of their tech stack, because a single platform or short list of tools can be leveraged to accomplish any number of tasks.
Why Scale Down Your Tech Stack?
To achieve greater harmony for their teams and support more effectual case strategy, organizations would be well served to strive to become a well-secured, compact house—and centralizing your data platforms is the way you get there. In fact, transforming your organization from a city to a house is the number one way you can begin to drive real return on your investment from your tech investments.
The first way consolidation can really help is by saving you boatloads of time. Think about it: How much time do you spend migrating your key documents out of your e-discovery software to prepare for trial? Imagine having it all in one place, where your early case assessment leads into your review, which bleeds into your case preparation, all under one digital roof.
The team at Ricoh Canada have recently started to see the benefits of offering their clients a consolidated platform that includes Relativity Case Dynamics and Transcripts.
“We want to show our clients that we can make their lives easier by using one tool to handle their case, from the initial review all the way through the trial,” said Danny Chan, a senior discovery engineer at Ricoh Canada. “It allows our clients to have a dynamic picture of their case and collaborate seamlessly, without having to leave the database.”
Although it may seem obvious that cutting down your tech stack will save you subscription fees, there are many subtle ways it can save you money over time—above and beyond the up-front savings.
For one, with increased efficiency, your team can take on more work, thus winning more revenue. Similarly, minimizing your exposure to costly security or workflow mistakes will save on the expense of repeat work or—worse—punitive action.
You’ll also find your team’s training investments to be more fruitful, as they can dive deeper and keep up with the new developments of a single platform—cutting out the back-and-forth of managing many different pieces of technology, reducing the number of trainings required, and helping them accomplish more as true subject matter experts in your technology of choice.
There’s no getting around it: There’s risk involved if you move your data from one platform to another. You can mitigate that risk, but when you’re downloading, saving, and re-uploading, you simply can’t avoid the risk altogether.
For example, take document review. If your attorneys are constantly exporting and printing documents or emailing them around, who knows where the document could end up—or which version is the latest and greatest? Keeping everything under one roof is key. In RelativityOne, for example, you can leverage the RelativityOne Mobile App. With it, users can share documents via secure links and open the app on any iOS device—accessing all case data in a single, unified platform and eliminating the need to pull down or push out new versions over the course of a project.
Plus, yet more efficiency savings come with that robust security mindset. The team at Gibson & Keith uses the RelativityOne app to access their data from anywhere and quickly work through review.
“The RelativityOne app is sleek, fast, and easy to navigate. I can drill down into certain documents and hide features that I may not need for the task at hand. The app has resulted in a speedy and efficient document review,” said Lee D. Curry, an associate at Gibson & Keith.
What's On Your Map?
Slimming down your tech stack is a great start on your journey toward driving true ROI from your software—and ensuring you’re making the most of your team’s time on every case. This ROI will come in the form of increased efficiencies, money saved, and less risk to your organization. With all your workflows organized and streamlined into your dream tech home, the possibilities for innovation become endless.
So, as you consider your legal tech stack moving forward: is your organization a city, a neighborhood, or a house?
Andie Linker is a member of the marketing team at Relativity, specializing in understanding and developing content for the law firm community.