In this blog, we’ll discuss practical strategies for making the most of existing eDiscovery technology, particularly in the face of the budget constraints we see in today’s world. At Panoram, we always look to optimise your current investments, automate existing processes effectively, and help you leverage your vendor partnerships. Ultimately, we want to empower law firms and corporates with the right strategies and guidance to deliver efficiency gains and cost savings across their eDiscovery projects without solely relying on new technology investments.
1. Every pound is a prisoner
It is hardly a surprise that budgets are being cut, forensically scrutinised and ROI measured more closely than ever before. As a result, optimising the existing investment in technology to find efficiencies can be the most effective way of avoiding time consuming and failed investment cases or battling for prioritisation amongst the myriad of competing functions. It will almost certainly deliver more immediate benefits.
Of course, there will always be arguments for the investment in new tech to drive down cost with the promise of increased productivity, and of course this is still happening. However, as we know, the path to implementing new software can be a long, uncomfortable and unfulfilling journey and the answer could be already within your control.
2. Double down on process improvements.
If your IT budget, and maybe your business as a whole, is under pressure in the current environment, then reviewing, redefining and automating more business processes is a natural step.
However, automating an already inefficient process can make matters worse, so it is critical that this process is done with a clear understanding of the problem statement and desired outcome, with consideration of all participants and stakeholders.
In summary the IT becomes the advocate and agent for change management, looking inside the existing toolkit and avoiding the need to spend on new and unproven automation tools.
Some considerations are:
- The identification of repeatable tasks or similar requirements across the business can make a significant difference to operational effectiveness. It can make better use of existing tech and resource. You don’t know what you don’t know.
- Better understanding of data types and common use, alongside improved data governance can reduce the time and impact needed for collection, processing and production of data. Ask; “who has what, where is it and how and what is it being used for?
- Stress testing or scenario modelling to ensure that current resource can adequately cope with increasing demand and are sufficiently well trained to cope with change or increased complexity of tasks.
- Identifying easy replicable or duplicate tasks that are being outsourced to 3rd parties, increasing complexity, risk and cost.
3. A problem shared…
You should assume that your vendors will want to retain your business. However, it’s also reasonable to assume they will be under pressure too.
Sharing the challenge of reduced spend or rising costs and calling on their experience with their other clients can be a beneficial way of finding a solution.
There will be many options available, and necessity can often drive creativity. Bluntly, place the responsibility on the suppliers to find ways to keep your business and work within the confines of your budget. They should show how they add value in both the short and long term and how you will measure ROI. Sadly, this often falls to the customer to define the need and write the business case.
Knowledge, experience and credibility are critical, as the right outcome relies on the supplier having an adequate understanding of the business, its’ operations, challenges and objectives in order to make well qualified recommendations. However, if this can be achieved it will demonstrate, engender trust and underpin the true value of partnership and strengthen the relationship for the future.
4. Good housekeeping
The ebb and flow in the use of and the array of software licencing means that many organisations are either oversubscribed or are underutilising their investment and keeping costs higher than they need to be.
Looking at collective user groups, finding common functionality and use cases and rationalising process is a good place to start. This could reduce the number of user licences or expand the use of software across different functions, reducing cost and making better use of what you already have.
More holistically, some of these more simple and less dramatic options can help with broader, organisational decision making. Small changes can have big effect and can help remove the temptation or need to cancel projects to reduce cost or fit reducing budgets or help clarify the perpetual debate around prioritisation of spend.
Tackling this doesn’t need to be a protracted task and can quickly identify areas to drive down cost and increase productivity.
While this can be undertaken internally, a more effective approach could be to use a partner with specific expertise, who can detect in real time where an application is being used, and help recommend approaches to improve processes, share resources, and reduce spend.
5. Teach a man to fish
If the expectation is that budgets will remain limited and costs will need to be reduced, organisations need to improve the productivity of their operations by better utilising the technology at their disposal. Building on, managing and using their existing technology for broader use is both a viable, tactical solution and a sustainable strategy for optimising operating models to achieve efficiency gains.
Consequently, job functions such as risk, compliance, legal and HR are required to play an active part, self-solve and be more technically astute than 12 months ago. And many companies are looking to the leaders of these functions to recognise and act on this and not leave it to the CTO or CIO to make the change. However, this is easier said than done and this new responsibility is non-core to the role these leaders play in the business.
As a result, seeking the guidance and support of partners who are experienced in helping organisations re-engineer processes and better utilising tech to drive better outcomes is more important than ever before. The investment in the right advice could be the best decision that can be made with the headwinds we are currently facing and this will deliver tangible benefits quickly, measurably and sustainably whilst removing the reliance on new tech being a panacea.