Reporting is one of the most powerful components of an effective investigation case management system. It’s one of the features that sets a great case management system apart from the rest and can provide a company with the data they need to evaluate processes, plan for the future and mitigate risk.
So, when implementing a new investigation case management system, it’s important to start with reporting in mind. Knowing what information you want to be able to report is the first step in setting up a system that delivers the information you need.
“Since our tool is primarily used for output, one of the key things you want to have some sense of is what reports you want to get out of the system,” says Daniel Lagasse, Director of Services at i-Sight. “If you can understand and articulate the data reports and the structure that you need, it really gives us the insight we need to understand how the application should be built.”
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Some questions to consider are:
- What reports do we need?
- What inputs are needed to produce these reports?
- Where do these inputs come from?
- Do they depend on any other inputs?
- How do we need these to be integrated in the new system?
- What structure do these reports take?
One to Many vs. One to One
To illustrate the importance of identifying what goes into the necessary reports, Lagasse provides a simple example of a system that includes a component that captures address information. “From a data perspective I can capture that information as one item, but if you want to be able to report on a customer who has multiple addresses, we need to build the system with that in mind,” he says.
Another common example involves reporting incidents on a case. “If there can be multiple incidents in a case, we need to know that,” says Lagasse. “Knowing this up front gives us insight into how to build that component of the application with a ‘one to many’ structure as opposed to ‘one to one’ structure.”
While the i-Sight implementation team is experienced in helping clients understand what information they need to provide, if the client hasn’t done any research up front it can lengthen the time spent in the analysis phase explains Lagasse. “We will ask the questions and force you to think, but if you don’t come prepared then you have to go back and get the information and this extends the time. And there’s a cost associated with time.”
But better to go back and get the needed information than to get it wrong in the first place, says Lagasse. “Getting it wrong means that we need to revisit the application,” he says. “And this is bound to cause delays and cost overruns.”
How to Do Your Homework
The best way to begin the process of understanding the reporting requirements for a system is to walk through the workflow with stakeholders and the business community, says Lagasse.
“Walk through all the scenarios and then amalgamate all the scenarios. Then you can start to see the data relationships and the business flow relationships. That gives information on how the data should be structured,” he says.
“The more homework you do up front, the smoother the implementation will go.”