To paraphrase Rudyard Kipling, “If you can keep your head, while all others are losing theirs and blaming it on you – you’ve probably created a good plan”.
In many engagements, Wortzman Nickle is brought into the fray long after work has started. We are asked to take over bits and pieces of what one or more groups of people have been working on. Although we are presented with hard drives, images, backup tapes and paper, very rarely will we be provided with that key ingredient – “The Plan”.
Whether you are in-house counsel, outside counsel or a third party consultant, in many discovery matters, you’ll be brought into a situation and asked to “handle it”. The first daunting challenge that you will face is getting everyone to slow down and reassess. There’s such a huge desire to keep things moving that no one wants to take the time to sort out exactly what has transpired and try to link that to the eventual desired outcomes.
If you’re put into one of these situations it is important that you’re not pulled in to the overall panic. There are some basic steps to take:
To begin, catalogue the issues and resources that are available and to lay out a concise plan for how to track them.
Creating the plan is, however, just the start. Another important element is in having all the stakeholders sign off on their part of the plan. Ensure that there is an approval or verification step so that everyone understands their part of the plan. Insist on getting a response to sending out project files and ensure that there is a single point of contact that will help with tracking all of the affiliated tasks. A strong project plan needs constant monitoring.
Establish regular updates via email or conference call to ensure that all parties know of project progress. To achieve group collaboration, consider using a shared planning tool. Among other things, this helps cut down the “blame game” emails that tend to work their way around. If you’re sharing project management files, there’s all kinds of great ways using flags and colors (and in some cases even sounds) to alert everyone interested as to who has fallen down on the job, in a timely and constructive manner, so that steps can be taken to bring the project back on track.
Some of these points may seem to be fairly basic or common sense. Nevertheless, as in many areas of life, common sense tends to go out the window when a crisis hits. Taking a moment to assemble a plan, allows you to remain focused on what needs to be done to ensure a successful outcome.