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Taking Orders or a Trusted Advisor?

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Sandline Discovery - Ideas, Education and eDiscovery

I knew a guy who took great pleasure in processing useless files. In particular, there was a client that needed data managed for eDiscovery with basic requirements that looked like these:

  • Process these custodian hard drives (PC images containing mail, edocs, and a lot of system files)
  • Index and search them
  • Promote the results to review

All files on the drive image were agreed to be processed at a per GB rate. This seemingly straightforward plan created massive incentives for vendor and crazy disincentives for client. Each drive image had two enormous system files: pagefile.sys and hiberfil.sys. They contained no useable information for the case. Only forensics guys might find them useful, but in eDiscovery we're just not supposed to process them.

So how bad could this be?

Maybe each file was 8GB. That's 16/GB per drive image for just two useless files. There were 40 custodian drive images. Rate was $325/GB native. (Yes, this was some time ago.)

$325/GB * 16GB/drive * 40 drives = $208,000 for files that should not have been run through the macaroni machine.

Alright, there's no grand point here. I've just been thinking lately about how service offerings and pricing models are loaded with service provider incentives that are client disincentives and vice versa. As a consumer, work with people who aim to create project plans and pricing that align client/provider incentives and be wary of models where blind "order taking" results in an upside mainly for the provider.

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