Editor’s Note: This slightly updated repost of frameworks for comparing eDiscovery providers appears as relevant today as when it first published in 2012. With the exception of industry consolidation, fourth-generation technologies, and changes in comprehensive provider directories, the frameworks still provide a salient starting point for comparing and contrasting eDiscovery providers.
Comparing Providers: Competencies, Attributes, and Distribution Frameworks
Comparing and contrasting eDiscovery providers is a daunting task when one considers the multiple stages of eDiscovery, the many providers of eDiscovery offerings, and the fact that most provider comparisons today are based on solely on stage (EDRM¹) or feature/function capabilities. While there are definitions, tools, and directories² available for comparing provider capabilities at the eDiscovery stage and feature/function level, there does not appear to be a generally accepted or regularly used set of elements that are used to describe the high-level competencies, attributes and distribution frameworks of providers. Understanding that a provider’s organizational character is made up of more than capabilities, it seems reasonable that a common set of descriptive elements for competency, attributes, and distribution frameworks might be beneficial for the provider comparison process.
With the goal of helping to provide objective elements for use in eDiscovery provider comparisons, provided below in simple bullet point form are suggested competency, attribute, and distribution framework elements that may help in the establishment of cogent and complete comparisons between eDiscovery providers. These elements are not all-inclusive. However, they may still be highly beneficial for describing, positioning and differentiating eDiscovery providers.
General Competencies of eDiscovery Providers
Three General Competency Classifications of eDiscovery Providers
* Combining technology and services refers to architectural and procedural integration.
** Consolidating technology and services refers to the making available of standalone offerings without architectural or procedural integration.
General Attributes of eDiscovery Providers
Attributes of Developers
Attributes of Integrators
Attributes of Aggregators
General Distribution Frameworks for Legal Technologies/Services
These general distribution framework elements can further be described as leveraging either Pure or Hybrid distribution models.
Distribution framework and distribution models are important as they many times determine the way in which a whole product³ is ultimately delivered to the final end user.
Additionally, providers may in fact at times serve client’s in multiple roles as developers, integrators and/or aggregators using pure and/or hybrid distribution models. However, most providers have a core competency that is further defined by a primary distribution framework and primary distribution model.
Comparing Providers: Differing Offerings. Different Capabilities. Different Delivery.
Comparing different providers with differing offerings and different capabilities delivered in different ways is challenging given the complexity of today’s provider landscape. Hopefully, the aforementioned objective comparison elements, when combined with conventional stage and feature/function comparison criteria, will help legal professionals as they seek to understand and consider complex discovery decisions concerning eDiscovery provider selection.
(1) Electronic Discovery Reference Model (EDRM) – EDRM.net, January 17, 2017.
(2) Tools and Directory Examples: The eDJ Tech Matrix, G2 Crowd, Capterra, ComplexDiscovery.
(3) Whole Product – (Whole Offering): Definition – Wikipedia, September 24, 2012.