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Legal Project Management: Thoughts, tips, and discoveries related to the management of legal projects.

Exterro Shows How to Apply Project Management to the EDRM

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Last Thursday, Exterro gave an on-line presentation that discussed e-discovery project management in the context of their suite of legal work-flow tools.[1]  Co-presented by Natasha Keitges, Exterro's Senior Director of Business Development, and Pete Warner,[2] a litigation technology specialist at Sandia National Laboratories (an Exterro client),[3] the Web cast discussed how e-discovery project management fits into a company's government, risk, and compliance program and, more specifically, how applying project management processes to the Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM)[4] can establish key efficiencies, cut costs, and allow legal departments to more effectively monitor the successes and failures of their e-discovery projects. 

The presentation was organized around the standard project management process groups: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing.[5] The presenters applied these process groups to the EDRM's stages and discussed how Exterro products facilitate better project management to address the needs arising from each EDRM stage. The table below shows the relationships as discussed in the presentation:

PROJECT MANAGEMENT PROCESS GROUP EDRM STAGE EXTERRO PRODUCT (Fusion Core Platform)
Initiating Information Management Genome
Planning Identification Genome & Legal Hold
Executing Preservation and Collection Legal Hold, Discovery Workflow
Monitoring and Controlling Processing(Work-flow Management*) Discovery Workflow
Closing Reviewand Analysis Discovery Workflow

Production Discovery Workflow

Presentation N/A

* Work-flow Management is not an EDRM stage, but was listed next to Monitoring and Controlling in the presentation. "Processing" was not paired with a PM process group and neither were "production" and "presentation". 


The main point of the presentation (besides highlighting Exterro's products) is that you can and should apply project-management processes to e-discovery projects. The Web cast successfully highlighted the importance of project management to e-discovery work and showcased the impressive depth and breadth of Exterro's discovery-management software. My one criticism is that I wish they had not implied a one-to-one relationship between the PM process groups and the EDRM stages.

I'm sympathetic to the fact that a half-hour Web cast is not the proper venue to delve into the nuances of project-management and e-discovery standards. But equating "initiating" with "information management", "closing" with "Review and Analysis", or any PM process group with any EDRM stage doesn't make much sense to me.[6] I think of the EDRM stages as phases in a multi-phase project, each itself managed as a sub-project. One could apply the entire set of PM processes to each EDRM stage. While the presenters did not mention the PMBOK Guide or any other project-management standard, and they probably didn't intend to claim an exact parallel, the presentation made it to easy to imply this and thereby provides a skewed picture of project management. 

My nitpicking about their use of project-management terms aside, I must point out that these guys know electronic discovery. Those whose jobs involve creating and maintaining data maps, managing legal hold notices, and overseeing disparate legal and technical teams will appreciate the amount of thought Exterro put into designing their tools. Anyone struggling with a multiple-spreadsheet approach to managing electronic discovery projects will drool in envy at the Exterro Fusion suite of products. 


[1] Natasha Keitges and Pete Warner, A Simplified Approach to E-discovery Workflow, Exterro.com, go to "Webinars," under the "Resources" tab. http://www.exterro.com/resources/webinars (last visited Nov. 23, 2009). Direct link to Webinar hosted by GoToMeeting: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/263821849 (last visited Nov. 23, 2009)

[2] Natasha Keitges LinkedIn profile, http://www.linkedin.com/pub/natasha-keitges/b/51/90b (last visited Nov. 23, 2009)

[3] Pete Warner LinkedIn profile, http://www.linkedin.com/pub/peter-warner/7/612/878 (last visited Nov. 23, 2009)

[4] Electronic Discovery Reference Model, http://www.edrm.net/ (last visited Nov. 23, 2009)

[5] Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge 41-43 (4th ed. 2008) [hereinafter "PMBOK Guide"].

[6] Id. at 39, 436. For example, in the PMBOK Guide, "initiating" is defined as "[t]hose processes performed to define a new project or a new phase of an existing project by obtaining authorization to start the project or phase." Id. at 39, 436. The operative phrase is "obtaining authorization." When project managers discuss initiating a project, they are generally talking about activities such as developing the project charter and identifying the stakeholders. Information management can be a project in itself (e.g., a project to roll out Fusion Genome to build a data map) or an ongoing process, for which project management processes are less applicable (e.g., on going maintenance of Fusion Genome and scheduled updates to the data map). Initiating processes can certainly cross over information governance on an e-discovery project, such as referencing your data map as part of your process to determine stakeholders for the project, and obtaining proper clearances for a project, but information governance would be as equally important to the project planning processes and would also affect and inform all other PM phases in an e-discovery project. 

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Paul C. Easton published on November 23, 2009 5:13 AM.

David Allen, the "Project Management Problem", and the Need for Legal Context Over Legal Applications was the previous entry in this blog.

Exterro to Discuss E-discovery Project Management for Law Firms is the next entry in this blog.

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