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3 Tips for Making Smart Ediscovery Cost Estimates

by Greg Marliave

When choosing an ediscovery vendor, there are a number of key factors to consider, including the quality of the product, the level of customer service the vendor provides, and, of course, the price. On the surface, it seems as though price is the easiest to compare. A dollar charged by one vendor is the same as a dollar from another, right? However, anyone who has been through the process of vetting vendors knows that comparing prices is not always that easy. Pricing is rarely transparent and is often based on variables you can only estimate.

Here are a few tips for estimating ediscovery costs:

1. Know your data format: The format of your data is going to have a big impact on your costs. If you are receiving data, is it already processed into images and text? If it is, great! That means you are likely to be able to load it on to your review platform of choice without additional costs. If, on the other hand, you are producing the documents, or you are receiving them in native format, then your processing costs are going to be important. You are going to have to extract metadata, text, and image the documents, and may need to apply OCR to extract usable text. Pay close attention to what your vendor is charging for all of these services.

2. All GB are created equal, but some are more equal than others:
Most commonly, the biggest factor in determining your final cost will be the size of your database, yet calculating that size can be difficult. For starters, you likely don’t have it yet, and once you do have it, it may still have some tricks up its sleeve. For example, imagine you have a hard drive with 100 GB of native files on it. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? You send it to your vendor and they say “whoops, there are 50 GB of zipped files.” They had to extract the files, and now you are up to 150 GB. Small hiccup, so you proceed. They run their processing, and load up the documents. Your first monthly bill comes and the hosting is for 750 GB! A good vendor will warn you ahead of time that creating images and extracting text can often increase your data size. A fivefold increase is a good rule of thumb for estimating this effect on your data size.

3. Pay attention to the details: Most vendors will charge you based on the size of your case. However, many vendors choose to charge additional fees for a variety of other services. Make sure to ask whether there are any costs associated with the number of users, loading of data, advanced features like analytics, training, or support. You are likely to need these services in every case, and they can have a significant impact on the bills you receive at the end of the day. You should also check to see if you are locked into a contract, or if there is a fee to export your data. If the case ends early or you decide to switch vendors, you may be saddled with a large expense down the road.

If you keep the above in mind, you should be well-equipped to compare prices as you gather quotes from a few different vendors. Even if you have a preferred product, take the time to shop around; knowing the market will give you greater peace of mind. And be sure to let the vendors know where they stand; the more transparent the market, the better it is for you, the buyer!