The always-evolving nature of technology means the need to migrate case data will arise in every eDiscovery professional's career.
A law firm may need to convert an expiring or unsupported application into Relativity cases. Migration could also mean moving case data from one instance of Relativity to another or an archival location. Whatever the specific circumstances, there is no single set of standards for how to migrate case data because every migration is unique.
To take one on, here is what you need to remember.
Migrating eDiscovery Case Data Tip 1:
Dedicate a Team with Clear Roles
With more than ten years of experience in eDiscovery and developing for Relativity, I believe getting the right people in place for a migration project is the single most important thing someone can do. Why? Because the fastest route to a failed migration is thinking it can be done ad hoc or by distributing the workload around without a project structure.
While it may seem easier to fold the migration tasks into a team's day-to-day responsibilities, it can fragment and destabilize the migration. It will also compromise the support and value provided to end clients because it invites a lack of focus.
If your organization cannot set aside the people hours and resources necessary for migration, it should not expect to execute one effectively. Even if projects occur concurrently, migrations require a dedicated team.
Teams need to assign a project owner, project leaders, and specific task owners. Stakeholders who need to know the critical milestones of the project also should be identified early on with clear expectations for each person.
Migrating eDiscovery Case Data Tip 2:
Pull Together A Specific Plan
As new platforms emerge, capabilities evolve, needs change, and the amount of data businesses have to manage grows, it is crucial to remember there is no one process to rule them all for eDiscovery case data migrations. No single online guide or process inherited from an expert can be repurposed exactly for a new migration project. There are excellent reference materials, but they must be custom for their specific use case.
Instead of trying to find a magic formula, I recommend that you start a plan by cataloging what variables will be involved in your case data migration. Then use that audit to inform the milestones and responsibilities of the project plan.
Here are some starting questions:
Where is this data coming from and where is it going to end up?
What are the data components that need to migrate?
What are the critical timelines, milestones, uptime requirements of our stakeholders?
What cases would be most impacted by possible downtime?
What is the processing power necessary to move the data?
What is the communication plan for stakeholders, case managers, and clients?
What is the budget available vs. needed? (E.g., billable vs. non-billable hours, cost of reallocated dev/IT hours)
Are there any custom applications or settings that might break in migration?
Again, every migration will have different challenges and requirements, so it is essential to do a thorough examination of the factors impacting each migration project for a comprehensive, effective plan.
Migrating eDiscovery Case Data Tip 3:
Automate Wherever You Can
Most migration issues emerge when a team does not understand the complexity of data and the need to plan and execute against multiple workflows. It is vital the migration team be honest about their capabilities as well as their limitations.
Outside of thorough preparation and working with experts, what can someone do? Automate. Automate. Automate. Teams to test data before production, reduce the risk of human error and increase process efficiency – making the migration quicker, cheaper, more stable, and more predictable.
For example, manual task repetition in uploading files and massaging data can build experience, but it also leads to burnout, lack of focus, and overlooked records or incorrectly staged settings. (And hello, carpal tunnel syndrome!) Missed validation at an earlier stage of migration can reset the entire case data transfer to square one. Automation ensures consistency within the migration, optimizing for speed and reliability with end savings of not just time and money, but sanity too!
Migrating eDiscovery Case Data Tip 4:
Remember That You Can’t Over-Communicate
With a case data migration, multiple teams will work together, often in different locations. Clients, case managers, and IT (Oh my!) all have different responsibilities and communication styles. Do not skip establishing the communication expectations of everyone involved.
There are a thousand project management tools out there, but a simple in-person stand-up meeting and an end-of-day recap post in a project's Slack channel can help identify if things are moving along as they should.
Keep in mind, too, that nights and weekends are often when migrations happen so as not to interfere with day-to-day operations. It is crucial for your weekend warriors to know how to get ahold of stakeholders and teammates if things need troubleshooting or clarity during atypical work hours.
Migrating eDiscovery Case Data Tip 5: Monitor To The End… No, Really
Migrations are hard work, and it’s easy to be tempted to move on from the project as soon as it feels complete. However, as data migrates, cases will become available to work on again in their new home. It is essential to actively monitor the process to make sure all loose ends are tied up.
Some migrations will last weeks or months and span dozens or hundreds of cases, so it’s critical to be diligent throughout a migration. Keeping downtime to a minimum requires identifying the necessary updates to processes and tools early. The entire migration will move more smoothly with less impact on business operations.
Lastly, consider regrouping 30 days out from the project "completion" to make sure no one has encountered any errors or found that they actually needed to bring additional data across the wire. Migrations are a challenge for any organization, but with the right team, plan, and tools in place, they don’t have to keep you up at night – unless that’s your only downtime window. 🙂