When investing in a new eDiscovery solution, you might find yourself wondering whether you should engage with a service provider or go directly to a software vendor. The comparison between the two options does not come down to which option is ‘better’. Either option can be ideal given the right circumstances. Instead, ask yourself, “How much support does my team require?”
What does a software vendor provide?
Software vendors deliver software and infrastructure as a service. Simply put, they grant users access to their software via the cloud. They will handle upgrades and general maintenance, which means you will have access to the newest version of the platform at all times. Licenses for on-premise installations can also be purchased directly from software vendors. If you opt to purchase software directly, your team will work with the vendor to ensure the software is installed properly and all technical requirements are met.
What does a software vendor not provide?
In most cases, software vendors do not provide case management, project management or review services. This means your team will be responsible for handling each case throughout its entire project lifecycle independently. For this reason, you need to ensure that your team is equipped with the knowledge and expertise needed to utilize the platform without additional support.
What does a service provider provide?
Much like a software vendor, service providers give access to software and infrastructure. The main difference is that the provider is responsible for any upgrades and maintenance in the environment — not you. This alleviates the need for your internal IT team and users of the software to coordinate when upgrades and maintenance need to take place. In addition to the software, service providers also provide eDiscovery processing, professional services and workflow development that can help your team maximize the efficiency of your review and use of the platform. Since service providers offer an array of services related to your eDiscovery projects, they can help guide you and your team from the very early stages of the EDRM to the end. Some service providers may be allowed to resell software for on-prem installations.
Depending on the platform chosen, service providers can also build on top of the application to make customizations specific to your firm or organization’s workflow that a software vendor may not necessarily provide. For example, Ricoh eDiscovery recently created an app for our RelativityOne instance that provides clear insights into case sizes, status, configured users and trends within our clients’ workspaces — all from one convenient dashboard.
What does a Service provider not provide?
In most cases, service providers do not provide full admin access to the software of infrastructure for security reasons. Additionally, while service providers have full expertise in the program and the capability and resources to resolve many technical issues, certain systemic problems (if they arise) can only be fixed through the software developer. However, if a problem should come up, the service provider will work directly with the vendor to troubleshoot and identify any possible workarounds until a bug is patched, limiting the clients’ need for direct involvement with support.
What is the advantage of working with a service provider vs. software vendor?
Bottom line: the difference between a software vendor and a service provider is the amount of client support offered. Service providers bridge the knowledge gap between software vendors and the end user, utilizing their knowledge and expertise to provide a custom workflow that is specifically designed for your matter and need.
Depending on the provider’s offering and your agreement, you can take advantage of their Managed Services portfolio, which, depending on the expertise within your team, can serve as an indispensable advantage to your legal strategy. At Ricoh eDiscovery, this includes an extended team of eDiscovery experts that become an extension of your own team.
When working with a service provider, you also have the potential to access multiple platforms. This benefit allows you to determine which platform fits your firm or legal department’s needs on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, depending on your agreement with a service provider and the software chosen, they can provide you with your own dedicated instance of the platform as opposed to a multi-tenanted environment that the software vendor would provide access to.
When partnering with a software vendor, you will be addressing any and all software-related issues directly with them, which, in turn, will provide you with real-time feedback. While some software vendors do provide Professional Services offerings, by partnering with both a service provider and a software vendor, you can outsource services such as review, and project and case management. The service provider would be working directly with the software vendor on your behalf. Combining the two methods allows for a strong collaboration of industry knowledge and applied expertise to really maximize the potential of your workflow and platform.
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