Every year, Acorn presents our Groundhog Day webinar to address changes and trends within the ever-changing and growing eDiscovery industry. With budgets and economic concerns currently at the forefront in every industry, Acorn’s CEO, Lia Majid, and Senior Project advisor, Robin LeDonne, approached the largest cost driver within the EDRM – review. Instead of explaining review in terms of line-item costs, they addressed the not-so-frequently discussed cost drivers that can secretly cause review budgets to escalate.
Recently, our team presented with Lawline CLE to discuss the largest cost driver of the review cycle, which is the actual reviewing of the documents. However, pricing as a means to reduce the total cost of review has largely been pushed as far as it goes. We’ve found that for the most part, the prices for services have really been squeezed as much as they can, and there just isn’t any more juice to give. Where there is room, though, is with strategic workflows.
So, what drives the costs of document review to the point that the document review process is the biggest cost driver?
Cost Drivers of Document Review
This leads us to two of the major cost drivers in review: rework and throughput. Lia defined review in terms of these Six Sigma techniques, relating them to Gordon Ramsey’s popular TV series Hell’s Kitchen.
She described throughput as the total document views per hour, not the total unique document views per hour. Lia explained. “Let’s use Hell’s Kitchen as an example. There are two sources of throughput: the non-controllable factor (fish per hour made at the stove) and the controllable factor (fish going out to the customer). If 50 documents are each reviewed 2 times in an hour, or 100 documents are reviewed once in an hour, the throughput is going to be the same.”
The difference between the two throughput definitions is primarily how we’d define rework. For example, if the chef presents 1 raw fish for every 10 fish he completes, his rework would be 10%.
For 50 dishes ordered in an hour, the Effective Ordering Rate is now cooking 55 fish every hour to deliver the 50 he needed. Similarly, a document review may have 100,000 documents to review, but 115,000 Effective Documents to review.
What Matters More?
Since both rework, which evaluates the efficiency of the reviewer and throughput, the hourly rate of the reviewer matter a lot in terms of cost, how do we choose which one matters more?
We know that we want efficient, knowledgeable reviewers that also have a high review rate. However, although they do exist, they are rare. Generally, we must make a choice, and a lot of times that choice is going to be based on the type of review – is it a basic responsive review, or is it going to be an issue driven review with several issues that will also need to be reviewed for privilege. With a basic review, the focus may be on just getting through a first pass on the documents, in which case the hourly rate matters. The latter, an issue driven review where there are tons of issues and privilege calls to be made, efficiency may matter more.
But what if there is a way to always know what should matter more?
In our upcoming series, we will be addressing the improvements that need to be made throughout a review project in order to improve standard review operations and significantly cut costs. Using a typical review framework, we will show how an effective project ramp up, successful review management, reviewer optimization, and coding consistencies can lead to a predictable, stress-free review.
Stay tuned for our upcoming blog series to stay informed of these actionable strategies that can immediately combat significant cost drivers of review! To view the full 2023 Groundhog Day session, click here.
Acorn is a legal data consulting firm that specializes in AI and Advanced Analytics for litigation applications, while providing rigorous customer service to the eDiscovery industry. Acorn primarily works with large regional, midsize national and boutique litigation firms. Acorn provides a high-touch, customized litigation support services with a heavy emphasis on seamless communications. For more information, please visit www.acornls.com.