Thinking Global? Don’t Get Lost in Translation

By: Nancy Cardone, Across Systems

Planning for globalization is an intensive process that requires a ton of pre-planning. There are many things to consider as you market your business internationally and one key area that can often be overlooked is translation. By not addressing translation as a part of your global planning process you could hinder your ability to successfully penetrate these new markets and to quickly get your product to market.

A VP of Sales for a manufacturing company once told me a horror story about inadequate marketing materials that his foreign counterparts were presenting at a trade show in China. Unfortunately, his Chinese counterparts gave the assignment to the lowest bidder and ended up with marketing materials that were poorly translated and formatted. Once he saw the materials he immediately knew they would reflect poorly on his company and could ultimately damage their reputation, which people in Asia take very seriously. Since the materials were not translated and formatted professionally, his company image was compromised, they were not taken seriously and he lost potential sales as a result of not putting the right process in place from the beginning.

After being a business professional in the translation field for 14 years, I have learned firsthand the many roadblocks that can get in the way of getting a product to market efficiently. Most times, problems occur because people do not have a clear understanding of how translation works and do not budget as much time for translation as they do creating their English content.

Some of the common translation mistakes that can seriously impact your success when marketing your products globally include:

 

  • Believing that free online translation services or machine-translations are acceptable solutions for quality translations. Machine Translationis great for determining the gist of what someone is saying. However, it is not a viable translation tool to help you achieve a quality translation. You can test this out by inserting professionally translated materials into a translation tool in a foreign language, especially if it’s Chinese or Arabic, and see what English translation is produced.  You will be surprised by what you will see.

 

  • Assuming that “everyone” speaks English and there is no need for translated materials.  Although many people globally do speak English, there is brand credibility that comes with having your documents translated at a local level. People will be more likely to buy from companies that take the time to translate materials into their native language.

 

  • Using unqualified people to handle translations. Employees, external language service providers and freelance translators can be great options for your translations; unfortunately, they may not be fully qualified to translate your marketing materials. Translation is a special skill that not everyone possesses. Just because you have traveled or even studied a foreign language does not qualify you to translate. If a quality translation doesn’t take into account local jargon, terminology and dialectical differences, the reputation of your company could be jeopardized. Quality should not be ignored since a single translation error can change the entire meaning of a message which could result in a damaged business reputation, loss of sales and even death if you are in the medical industry where translation mistakes could kill people.

 

  • Addressing translation too late in the global planning process. If translation is not incorporated early on into the global planning process, you could incur significant expenses due to inadequate processing time, high cost rush projects, low quality products and product launch delays. I recently spoke to someone at a medical device conference whose launch was delayed by two weeks because the materials were not sent to translation soon enough and the translation timeline was not adequately considered in their overall launch timeline.

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid these mistakes. By following these guidelines, you can incorporate a translation strategy that will help you get your product to market quickly with reduced costs.

  • Use a credible translation technology solution for process efficiency and consistency. Not all solutions are created equal and offer the same controls and benefits.
  • Work with a professional language service provider to provide the human intervention necessary to appropriately handle subject matter, terminology and locales.
  • Incorporate a solid translation process early on when defining your global strategy to realize significant cost savings by using authoring solutions that help you craft your English content to be more understandable, consistent and quality.

Today, as you are expanding your business on a global basis, it is essential that you implement a solid translation strategy from the beginning. You may have a fantastic product or service, but if you are not communicating effectively with your customers, employees and business partners, you could lose valuable business opportunities. In addition, your marketing materials could be sending the wrong message or even worse, offending your customers which put your company’s reputation at stake. In this global economy, you can’t afford to take that risk. A proactive translation strategy will save time, reduce product development costs, increase sales opportunities and keep you ahead of your international competition.

 

Nancy Cardone, located in Pittsburgh, PA, is a localization professional and Across Systems’ business development manager for the Americas. Across provides translation software that helps companies go to market faster through process and workflow automation. In June, Across will be releasing version 6 with a user interface redesign, enhanced functionality and increased speed. Nancy can be reached at 412-486-3819 or at ncardone@across.net.

 

 

 

Siteworx White Paper Reveals 3 Things About B2B eCommerce You Can’t Afford to Ignore

A new Siteworx, LLC white paper outlines three key strategies business-to-business executives must know to respond to changing buyer behaviors and drive sales. The white paper, “3 Things About B2B eCommerce You Can’t Afford to Ignore,” is available for download on Siteworx’ website, www.siteworx.com.

“B2B companies need to raise their game to stay competitive,” said Tim McLaughlin, Siteworx’ Founder and CEO. “While businesses used to depend on offline resources to drive sales, now their buyers use multiple devices and digital channels to perform research and make purchases. Most B2B companies don’t know how to respond to this shift at an enterprise level and that’s the question Siteworx answers with this report.”

In addition to rapidly-changing buyer behavior, B2B companies face being outsold by competitors that are effectively using more progressive eCommerce tactics. For example, Gartner predicts that by 2018, B2B companies that effectively use personalization on their eCommerce sites will outsell their competition by 30%.

“I’m telling every one of our B2B clients that the time for action is now,” stated McLaughlin. “There’s a limited window to gain a competitive advantage as all B2B companies undergo a huge awakening to both the opportunity with eCommerce and the risk of indecision.”

The white paper draws upon Siteworx’ unique approach to B2B digital strategy to uncover:

  • Key areas of frustration among B2B buyers
  • The real reason B2B companies are lagging behind their B2C counterparts and leading-edge B2B companies
  • Real-life examples of effective, noninvasive targeting and personalization for B2B audiences

Visit “3 Things About B2B eCommerce You Can’t Afford to Ignore” to receive your complimentary copy of Siteworx’ latest whitepaper.

Steps to take to protect your company from the Heartbleed bug

Ideal Integrations is the "Outsourced CIO" columnist for TEQ magazine.

Ideal Integrations is the “Outsourced CIO” columnist for TEQ magazine.

By Ideal Integrations, Outsourced CIO, TEQ magazine

The Heartbleed Bug is certainly causing some security concerns in the technology world this week.  We want to give you a few thoughts on what to do about the Heartbleed bug.

What The Heartbleed Bug Is:

The Heartbleed bug is a vulnerability in the OpenSSL cryptographic library that allows stealing of information normally protected by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the Internet.  OpenSSL is open-source software that is widely used to encrypt web communications.  SSL/TLS is what normally provides secure and private communication over the Internet via websites, email, IM, and VPNs.  According to CNET, an attacker can exploit Heartbleed to essentially “get copies of a server’s digital keys then use that to impersonate servers or to decrypt communications from the past or potentially the future, too.”  Heartbleed is being taken so seriously because OpenSSL is widely used.

What Steps Your Organization Should Take:

Numerous technology providers have already provided a signature to prevent the bug, so check your environment to verify it is active and current on all subscriptions.  We also highly recommend you take steps to fix the issue by changing your certifications and resetting passwords to ensure you are protected.

Once all components of your infrastructure have been patched, we strongly suggest that you reset the passwords associated with those accounts.  All of these steps together will help to protect your environment from any threats from the Heartbleed bug.

What Steps You Personally Should Take:

We suggest that you also protect yourself personally as over half of all websites are potentially susceptible to this problem.  Be on the lookout for spammers  trying to take advantage of this situation and luring you to fake password reset websites.  Always go directly to the website in question and change your password there.

Click here for another great article on the matter of changing passwords and protection.

Should you need any further assistance or have additional concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at communications@idealintegrations.net.

A Managed Risk: Outsourcing Practice Support Services

By Sal Mancuso and Jackie Flynn

Should Law Firms Seriously Consider Managed Services for Practice Support Departments?

In an effort to reduce law firm capital expenditures and relieve IT of unnecessary burdens, law firms nationwide are examining whether they should outsource their litigation support hardware and software infrastructure requirements. While some firms are making significant infrastructure investments to retain more eDiscovery and hosting services internally as a means to provide added value to their clients (think WilmerHale, Sidley Austin and Reed Smith), many are looking to offload the hardware and software headaches that arise when managing large volumes of data internally. In the below conversation, UHY Advisors’ Jackie Flynn speaks with Salvatore Mancuso, the past director of practice support at Proskauer Rose LLP, to explore the pros and cons of procuring managed services and when it may be a viable option for a law firm.

Q: What is your definition of managed services for a practice support department?

SM: Law firms who have in-sourced all or some of their eDiscovery services, that typically are available through service providers, now have the option to outsource different layers of their department. For me, a good starting option for a firm is to consider how best to manage its underlying eDiscovery infrastructure ‒ turning your software over to a provider who will supply the hardware is one such option. This mindset is not new for firms. In years past firms, through facility management services, have outsourced their mailroom, word processing and reproduction centers. Having a third-party provider manage back office support of eDiscovery services is an interesting solution as it allows a firm to take advantage of evolving technology without taking on the direct cost and management of new software and missing out on real-time software updates. The ideal solution that best fits each individual firm really depends on the firm’s value system and culture ‒ does it want its litigation/practice support department to be considered a cost of doing business or a potential revenue source?

Q: What services do you think make sense for a law firm to outsource?

SM: Firms should assess their needs by looking at their department at different cross sections: people (management, project management, project coordinators, technical analysts, systems analysts, etc.), type of litigation supported (large and slow-paced versus small and quick-paced), core software, support software (MS Access, text editors, utilities, etc.), hardware (file servers, SQL servers, virtual servers, etc.) and overall P&L. Is the department an operational cost or a source of revenue for the firm? Can you get any of the above layers at a lower cost and higher quality? Will outsourcing these services generate a better product, increase productivity or increase profitability while delivering high-quality client service?

Q: Do you think the quality of services you would receive from a third party could compare to an in-house employee?

SM: If we are talking about hardware and software services, then yes, I would be comfortable outsourcing to a third-party provider. In fact, the level of support they provide might be similar or even better. But outsourcing your in-house consultative staff to a third-party provider is not as straightforward. If we think back at the facility management example, the quality of staff is not always at the level one expects once the outsourced party takes over a department. In my experience, you tend to get inexperienced and junior staff to run the underlying services built into the contract. As a buyer of staffing services, you have to ask yourself, will you have control of the hiring process to ensure the experience and knowledge required to run an effective department?

For me, successful departments always come down to the quality of the personnel. Project management, as an example, is a key component to running a successful department – one that I would not recommend outsourcing. This position requires a thorough vetting process, looking at credentials, previous experience at law firms versus at a service provider and assessing the years of experience one has in a project management capacity in the industry. In fact, today there is a trend of service providers attracting project management personnel away from law firms. Why? Because there is not enough training and mentorship in the marketplace. I have learned that the best project managers are the ones that have been in the trenches and worked under proper mentorship and training.

Lastly, consider the firm’s perception of your department. How will the department be viewed if the staff is not at the level required or at the level the attorneys were accustomed to before the change? One should never undervalue the significance of using qualified and experienced staff.

Q: Why do you think outsourcing a firm’s practice support IT infrastructure is becoming an attractive alternative to law firms who currently manage client data internally?

SM: There are numerous reasons why a firm would and should consider outsourcing the IT infrastructure, including:

  • Immediate scalability of software, hardware, storage and staff
  • On-demand services and 24/7 support, particularly outside business hours
  • Increased flexibility in procuring new technologies
  • Dedicated qualified support resources
  • Real-time upgrading of hardware and software
  • Effective and straightforward budgeting of annual expenses
  • Ability to effectively utilize cheaper storage and introduce an effective retention policy

 

Storage alone competes with other costs in the firm and is hard to budget for since case volumes are unknown at the start of a matter. For example, the average case size is quickly growing as new cases cost 20 times that of matters from five years ago.

Q: Do you think this type of service is geared toward large or small law firms?

SM: It depends on the model and culture of the firm as well as the type of litigation supported, not necessarily the number of attorneys a firm employs. A single plaintiff practitioner with a booming caseload may have just as much need for a managed services solution as a 500 litigation attorney law firm. There is no one size fits all answer for this service.

Q: Do you think outsourcing hardware and software infrastructure gives a firm the opportunity to upgrade to new technologies?

SM: Yes. The largest upside to exploring a managed services solution is the opportunity to upgrade and/or introduce new technologies to the firm without the upfront capital costs. The practice support desktop environment is different than most user groups within the firm. Using an outsourced solution provides greater flexibility to install third-party applications and better support of the user’s needs. Outsourcing the IT infrastructure also avoids potential security issues and political headaches that may occur within the firm with new software installations.

Q: Does outsourcing provide an opportunity to “clean up” old cases?

SM: Yes. Most of the managed services models I have assessed use a per-GB/month pricing scheme. Even those that use a subscription model base the recurring cost on GBs. Using the GB model, a firm may elect to keep inactive cases in-house and move active billable cases over to the outsourced provider. This alone should prompt a firm to clean up its practice support data storage. Since you need to account for each GB, there is an opportunity for case remediation. A good portion of data that takes up space on our servers is residual data that dates back since the inception of the department. There is also a possibility for cases to exist in more than one environment. For example, think of a firm that migrated from Concordance or Summation to Relativity. A firm may elect to keep all Concordance legacy databases in-house but use the outsourced provider to host data for new matters in Relativity. It will be important to define at the onset of the transition period what is currently active and stays internal versus new matters.

Q: Does outsourcing provide an opportunity to develop a better data management policy or case archiving protocol?

SM: Yes, since we are faced with the challenge of finally dealing with dormant data and determining if we should move it to a different environment. This process will require hard decisions on how to manage the data as well as an opportunity to create a starting point for new policies going forward. The cost for outsourcing should motivate a firm to better handle data for closed matters as do service providers.

Q: What happens to the software already purchased by the firm, should outsourcing become a reality?

SM: Some software can be transferred with no problem, and some will have to be renewed after they lapse or run out, either by the firm or the new provider. One important consideration is the need to build in maintenance contracts as the new provider takes over your prepurchased technologies. For example, if a firm has already purchased Relativity, the firm can opt to maintain ownership of its Relativity licenses with maintenance fees and licensing as the software is still owned by the firm. However, it will be hosted on the provider’s servers. Also, some third-party applications – such as LAW Pre-Discovery Processing and text editors – may already be a part of the providers’ tool kit and will not need to be purchased or renewed. Finally, some licenses may never be outsourced as they are best used when locally installed by the firm. It is extremely important to involve the firm’s IT resources in determining which practice support systems work with the current firm’s environment. For example, transcript management databases that allow for streaming video may not work properly when hosted by an outside provider.

Q: Can an outsourced solution increase a practice support department’s billable hours? How so?

SM: I believe it can increase a department’s billable hours. Currently, a practice support professional may spend time focused on managing the current database environment which cannot be billed back to clients. If that task is removed, the project manager may be able to use the newly available hours for billable tasks. Today, a limit exists for what in-house project managers can do based on time constraints. If a team can quickly scale up and down based on its caseload, it can offer additional consultative work that would traditionally be outsourced based on team’s overall bandwidth.

Q: Some firms are interested in outsourcing their infrastructure as well as the people to a third-party provider. What are the challenges one should consider with choosing a fully outsourced approach? What about the concern of losing legacy knowledge on existing long-term cases?

SM: Well, by outsourcing people, I think of the services that once were internalized now being handled by staff that is no longer on the law firm’s payroll. The first challenge is in maintaining a certain level of quality and consistency in the service offering. Another challenge to be concerned with is the inherited knowledge one gains by working on the same client-related cases or with the same case teams that would otherwise be compromised if the staff were outsourced. You will most likely see turnover right from the start as most staff would be reluctant to stay with the absorbing company. The other such style would be to simply bring in new staff as part of the service offering as law firms have done in facility management solutions for their reproduction and mailroom centers. Since experienced project managers and analysts are highly sought after in the market, I am not convinced the law firm would get a good return on its investment by outsourcing staff.

Q: Can a managed services model provide firms the cost savings they think it will?

SM: I truly believe it can. As mentioned earlier, it depends on the value system of the law firm. If the law firm recognizes the value of the services its litigation/practice support department renders is the same or better than the value of the services provided by an external service provider, then it is a no-brainer. Regardless of how the law firm chooses to deal with the costs associated with managed services, the savings can be measured in dollars, overhead, risk associated with managing client data and the burden it has on the internal IT department.

Q: Can you provide a few tangible examples of where cost savings can be seen?

SM: Yes, in areas such as storage fees (live, offline, disaster recovery systems and backups), labor (personnel, database administrators [DBAs], IT hours), maintenance and upgrades of storage fees and maintenance and upgrades of hardware fees.

Q: Can you predict the IT departments’ reaction to a decision to utilize a managed services provider to take over the infrastructure and storage needs of a practice support department?

SM: You would be surprised as most IT departments I know would welcome the solution. It means one less headache for IT to manage and certainly one less set of data to ensure is available should a disaster occur.

Q: Would a managed services contract start at a certain point in time or would the plan include an option to offload all data currently being stored and hosted by the firm?

SM: I envision the plan starting on a go-forward basis at the outset and include legacy data as time and case milestones permit. It would be very difficult to move all data in one fell swoop. Prioritizing the data by most-active to least-active cases, and certainly by data types, such as client original data versus the underlying processed data or hosted data, is the way to approach the challenge. So, a contract can start at any time as long as it speaks to the classifications of data and builds in tiers based on aged data.

Q: Do you believe a managed services model can create an opportunity for a data remediation exercise for dormant data?

SM: Absolutely. After all, as with any data migration, it is an opportunity to perform some spring cleaning. I recommend, if a data disposition plan is not already in place, formalizing one that distinguishes data between dormancy and a closed state. The latter should involve the three options that most vendors will provide to a client. One: destroy. Two: return. Three: maintain at some recurring monthly cost. For the former, this is a good time to look into tiered storage where the secondary storage facility can be used to house dormant data that can be easily restored within a reasonable time.

Q: How will these services be billed back to a client?

SM: The recovery of costs is dependent on the value system each law firm places on its internal eDiscovery services. Some firms build in the cost as a value-add to other billing elements already in place, and yet other law firms have attempted to create a fee arrangement that mimics the service provider industry.

Q: Do you envision a managed services contract including after-hours support?

SM: For me, that would entail another level of service that one could tack on to the contract depending on the resources the solution provider has in place. If a law firm is looking to achieve a 24/7 service level operation and costs are an issue, one way to deal with this issue is to identify a managed services solution that can support overflow of an existing in-sourcing solution. The first thing to do is decide on which cross section to extend through the managed services solution: administrative/technical support, transactional services or project management. I can see relying on an outside entity to provide after-hours support on the technical support and transactional services end; however, project management is not a service I am willing to outsource.

Q: Do you think a managed services provider should include a clause for a first right of refusal on new matters requiring external processing or hosting services? Why or why not?

SM: That aspect of the service line is for the law firm to define as part of the Service Level Agreement. Personally, that would not work for me as my organization is currently supporting an in-sourced model. The main driver of outsourcing is the need for infrastructure and services, not necessarily as an overflow support solution.

Q: Security is a major concern when contemplating a managed services solution. What concerns do you have about data breaches and protecting client confidentiality?

SM: Security is a very important part of the assessment process. Some clients require a certain level of certification, penetration testing and auditing before they would even contemplate sending over their data. If the solution is one that is solely based on infrastructure and is intended to be the environment where all client data will reside, the security of the managed services solution should be assessed and tested by the law firm’s IT personnel as well as tested against one or two of your corporate clients’ security protocols. Clients will need to be reassured that their data will remain secure, restricted on the matter level, accessed by law firm members only and not on a multitenant network environment. For some law firms, hosting data through a managed services provider that uses a top-tier and fully vetted and tested storage and security solution could provide them favorable feedback in attracting business.

Q: How will the transmission of data be affected?

SM: The speed by which data travels to and from the managed services environment is critical. Depending on your current environment, you may see slower or faster speeds. For instance, if your law firm centrally deploys its network via a data center, your data may already be slower than what you would be experiencing if it were local to the office. That said, assessment of transmitting data should be added to your checklist of items to vet when using a managed services provider. I recommend including your IT department during the vetting process. You should also find out if the managed services provider will allow for delivery and loading of data at its location instead of having data being copied from your location, which can make uploading and production deliveries more efficient.

Summary

Managed services can allow law firms to get back to doing what they do best – practicing law, not managing and storing data. In the end, the opportunity to increase profitability, utilize labor productivity and reduce the overall cost of eDiscovery expenditures will result in many firms deciding to move some, if not all, of their practice support infrastructure to a third-party provider.

This article was published in ILTA’s October 2013 white paper titled “Risks and Rewards: The Good, The Bad and The Revered”

About the Authors

Sal Mancuso has 25 years of experience in providing litigation and practice support, stemming from both the law and the service provider side of the industry. He is currently the Director of Client Services at RVM, Inc. NYC. Prior to RVM, Sal was the director of practice support for Proskauer Rose LLP and the litigation technology services manager at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP. Contact him at smancuso@rvminc.com.

Jackie Flynn is the Mid-Atlantic business development manager for the UHY Advisors eDiscovery and digital forensics practice. Flynn routinely consults with large domestic and international clients in the health care, telecommunications, technology, government contracting, energy and education industries with regard to formulating defensible collection plans, preservation strategies, data extraction, forensic analysis, targeted culling and document review. She can be reached at jflynn@uhy-us.com.

Electronic Discovery Vendor to Expert: It Is All About Trust

By Danielle Bethea & David Herman 

As everyone in the legal field can tell you, lawyer jokes seem to outnumber the lawyers some days. Jokes about eDiscovery providers are less common, but that may be changing. Recently, an attorney extremely knowledgeable about eDiscovery at an important New York law firm joked, “Do you know that there are now more eDiscovery vendors in the city than cockroaches?” The dizzying number of companies entering the field makes it hard for attorneys to find the right partner, and it challenges vendors seeking to develop long-term relationships with firms to differentiate themselves from the pack.

Consider that the exhibitor list for LegalTech New York in 2013 had 225 companies on it, and that only includes the ones who chose to be in the show.[1] With so many options, how does a law firm make the critical decision to use one vendor over another for a make-or-break case?

The answer lies in finding companies that both law firms and their corporate clients can trust to execute the sometimes incredibly complex tasks associated with the matter, often in a time frame that virtually defies the laws of physics. In theory, this sounds obvious, but in practice it is much more challenging to evaluate and develop those relationships. One emerging method is to visualize a “Pyramid of Trust,” which can help attorneys categorize and group the vendors they are currently working with or may be considering.

In order to fully understand the Pyramid of Trust, let’s take a moment to define the key terms that comprise it.

Webster’s online dictionary defines the word vendor as “one that vends or a seller.” As an example, the website states “We’re thinking of making a deal with that other software vendor.” The origin of vendor is Anglo-French vendur, from vende “to sell,” with a first known use in 1594.[2]

A solutions provider, according to The Free Dictionary, is “an umbrella term for an organization that offers any combination of computer hardware, software and consulting.”[3]

The word expert is defined by Webster’s as “having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience.” The website’s examples include “We received some expert advice,” and “The company has become expert at adapting its products for new clients.” The word dates to the 14th century.[4]

uhf

The Pyramid of Trust

At the apex of the pyramid resides the “vendors” – the guys that are the “jack of all trades, experts of none” – the “handymen” of the industry. Next, in the middle, are solution providers – organizations that focus on a specific type of matter or have a tool that works best given a specific set of parameters. Last, but not least, at the bottom of the pyramid are the experts – organizations that have a pool of very technical, highly knowledgeable individuals that will provide services and often testify, opining on the results of the work that has been done. This often leads to ongoing service and support. As the level of trust increases, the foundation of the pyramid becomes more stable.

There are some key questions firms can consider for each eDiscovery provider, which will help determine where they reside on the Pyramid of Trust.

How to Identify a Vendor

  1. How long has the company been in business? Did it just spring up, or does it have the requisite experience to handle the need?
  2. How long have the key employees (the ones actually doing the work) been with the firm? A trustworthy organization has the ability to retain its employees, generally because they all share in a common vision.
  3. Are the tools that the company is using developed in-house or does it use industry standard software? In-house or proprietary software is not necessarily a disadvantage, but there is some merit to using commercially developed tools that have been tested by the “masses.”
  4. What security policies and procedures does the company have in place to protect the data it is handling? Federal regulations involving health, student and personally identifiable information have become much more stringent in the last five years, and if the company will be in possession of such materials, it is important to make sure they will be secure.
  5. If a small case expands in scope, does the company have the resources to “grow” with it?

Assuming that the vendor has been engaged and done good work on multiple occasions, it may earn the right to move down the Pyramid of Trust and become a solution provider, where the qualifications become much more stringent.

How to Identify a Solution Provider

  1. Can the company handle all aspects of the engagement ‒ pre-case consulting; assisting with the development of a discovery protocol; data mapping; development of a preservation plan, forensic collection; data extraction, processing, hosting, document review and production; expert testimony; and case closure?
  2. Does the company have a proven ability to deliver on time and within budget, based on the original scope for the project?
  3. Can the company think outside of the box to provide custom solutions when the scope gets tricky, or does it try and funnel everything through a single, rigid process?
  4. Can the company handle nonstandard forms of ESI, including structured databases, mobile devices, obscure email formats, backup media, email archiving platforms, etc.?
  5. Does the company’s culture support redundancy if a key person on its team of professionals leaves the organization or requires an unexpected period of time away from the office?
  6. Does the company document every request in a manner that can be used as part of an overall defensible approach, should the case go to trial?

If a company has proven itself time and again and it is on the short list of solution providers, how can it take the next step on the Pyramid of Trust and become the one that will work day in and day out with the case team on a bet-the-company case?

In today’s litigation environment, the answer often lies with two simple words: expert testimony. Does the solution provider have the expertise to testify about any technical event that occurred throughout the case life cycle? If the answer is yes, then the company may deserve advancement to the next level.

How to Identify an Expert

  1. Who will actually testify about the matter should it go to trial? Is the individual someone who has testified successfully before, or will your case be that person’s first experience in a deposition or hearing?
  2. Is the person an expert in digital forensics, the electronic discovery process, technology or on a specific software platform?
  3. How long has this person been working in the industry? While it may seem like someone who has just “gotten into the business” may serve as a good expert, much of the conveying of technical facts or the defensibility of a process comes down to experience.
  4. Make sure to take the time to vet the expert’s CV and identify the experience that relates to your project. What does the expert’s CV look like? Most experts do not spend all of their time just on testimony. They invest time in writing industry articles and on delivering education via CLE programs. Bear in mind that, much like on a resume, it is easy to skew or massage the facts.
  5. Interview the expert. Sometimes a quick phone or in-person conversation will reveal a personality characteristic that might not otherwise come through on paper.
  6. What references can be provided so that the firm can check on the past performance of the expert? Any true expert will have a host of individuals that are happy with the work provided and would be glad to candidly discuss their experience.

How do providers know when clients consider them experts? Sometimes, it is easy to tell. Candid communication tends to come out when time is of the essence and confidence in the work product is critical. In one recent case, a litigation support staff member sent us an email that read “I really appreciate the diligence on this. I can now forward this information on with complete confidence!”

While eDiscovery vendors may not yet outnumber cockroaches, remember that there are a lot of them and they are not all created equal. Just like attorneys generally focus on select types of law, so do discovery providers. The Pyramid of Trust represents an invaluable guide to find ones that can be counted on, time and time again.

Danielle Bethea & David Herman are senior project managers in the UHY Advisors New York City office. 

This article was originally published in FindLaw®, June 17, 2013



[2] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vendor

[3] http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/solution+provider

[4] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/expert