Managing Expectations

Last week, when I talked about the questions of having the right adapter for every hard drive type possibly being a reason to consider not doing this sort of work in-house, I responded to a comment with this phrase, “it’s a bit trickier when you have to explain why I can image THAT laptop, but not THIS laptop, especially when they’re both from the same manufacturer.”

As this week has gone on, I’ve thought more about the concept of expectations, and how do you explain why you can do some things, and not others, or why moving data sometimes takes this long, and other times takes much longer because of the bus speed of the equipment you’re using, or the write speed of the media, etc.

Case in point, imaging a SATA drive is much faster than imaging an IDE drive, even if they are the same size. Moving data from a network share to an external drive is slower than moving it directly from a local drive, etc. Most times you may not really think about it, but when you’re doing discovery, and dealing with large amounts of data, there is a very noticeable difference, and it’s one you have to plan around.

Unfortunately, not everyone realizes that they need to plan around these things. They see that moving a case database took an hour the last time they asked, so they don’t understand why they can’t take a laptop with the case database with them in a little more than an hour. They can’t understand why copying a drive can be done by the afternoon one time, and need 24 hours the next, or why we can print out a set of documents at the office in 30 minutes, but it takes hours using another printer at a client office.

More than that, they can’t understand why we could easily grab data from one type of computer, but not be able to grab it from an Exchange or SQL Server the same way, and let’s not even get started on RAID arrays! 

Thus, if you’re an attorney working with this stuff, you really only have two choices. You can take the time to understand all of the technology, at least to enough of an extent that you can have some idea of how things work and how difficult they are to accomplish, or you can trust the people who do this work for you, whether it be in house or an outside vendor.

I suppose your third option is to not understand it, constantly disregard the estimates given on the time work will take, and spend your working life angry at various litigation support or IT workers (external and internal). That doesn’t sound like much fun, though.

I’d love to hear from others about how they manage these expectations without going crazy, so please leave your best ideas in the comments.

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