Investigations have a lot of moving parts. Keeping track of them all takes skill and patience. That complexity can lead to mistakes, lost information or even legal ramifications unless you have a robust investigation management process in place.
This guide will help you make sense of investigation management, learn about common issues you may face while managing investigations and discover why an investigation management system can make your job a lot easier.
Mistakes in investigation management can be costly. Learn how to avoid common investigation mistakes with our free cheat sheet.
Investigation management refers to your system of controlling the tasks, information and people involved with an investigation. This includes managing physical aspects such as team members, witnesses and evidence, as well as processes including deadlines and workflows.
The head of an investigation team is usually responsible for managing investigations. However, if you’re an investigator hired by a separate organization, that company may also be responsible for some of these tasks. If you’re an internal investigator, your organization’s senior management might want to manage some aspects of the investigation, such as the timeline. Investigators are also responsible for managing some aspects of the investigation themselves.
Your organization might have a set investigation management style, or it may change from one investigator to the next. Either way, the main purpose of investigation management is to keep the case running smoothly.
Consider these common problems when outlining your management approach.
Most investigations do not have simple explanations or obvious solutions. As an investigator, you have to be able to adapt to changes that arise.
For example, you could discover a new accomplice while interviewing a fraud suspect. Or, securing an essential document you need to review may take longer than expected, pushing back other deadlines. Have backup plans in place before you launch every investigation so you aren’t stumped if changes occur.
Jumping straight into an investigation puts you at risk. Without a plan in place, you may:
- miss or lose information
- lapse on compliance with regulations
- miss deadlines because team members forgot or didn’t know to complete tasks
Before you start investigating, figure out all the tasks you’ll need to complete, including reporting to regulators. Then, create a timeline complete with task assignments to distribute to your team and other stakeholders to get everyone on the same page.
Managing cases without a strategy can impede your success. Start your investigation off on the right foot using our free investigation plan template.
Regardless of what types of investigations you conduct or what industry you work in, managing your time well is essential to managing your investigations.
First, know how to prioritize your tasks. Organize them based on urgency, the deadline you set in your investigation plan and importance. If you don’t complete tasks based on priority, you could waste precious time on things that don’t matter and have to rush through important ones.
For instance, don’t spend days doing background research on the case if this isn’t critical to the investigation. Instead, pass this off to another team member so you can focus on keeping the investigation on track.
Of course you want to investigate to the best of your ability. However, you should also recognize the strengths and weaknesses of both your organization and your team.
According to investigation expert Meric Bloch, it’s important to set realistic goals when managing an investigation, such as reasonable deadlines. Avoid setting expectations that are too high. Not only will this lead to extra stress, but also increase your risk of failure, which could cause you to lose credibility.
Encourage your team to do their best but understand your limitations, too. Good investigation management means knowing when to ask for external help from experts or other investigators.
Whether your investigations involve harassment, fraud, security breaches, corruption or accidents, your job is to uncover the truth. With an investigation management system that uses spreadsheets, paper or outdated software, you could be putting your employees or clients at risk. That’s why you need investigation case management software.
No matter what type of investigations you conduct, timely reporting is key. For instance, if an employee accuses a coworker of harassment, a speedy investigation can stop further harassment. Some types of investigations require reporting to regulators such as OSHA or FinCEN within a specific timeframe.
Choose a system that offers built-in report templates and one-click reporting capabilities. You’ll save time, stay compliant with applicable regulations and get the involved employees’ lives back on track faster.
Collaborating with your investigative team can be tough when you need to keep sensitive data secure. It gets even harder when you need to collaborate across departments within your organization. Using investigation management software makes working together smoother.
With all the case information in one place, it’s easy to share notes and documents with your team. A centralized investigation file ensures you don’t have to risk data security by sending sensitive information by email.
One of the major challenges of investigation management is keeping everything on track. Assigning tasks, sticking to deadlines and adapting when new information comes to light can feel like a chore.
Streamline the process by using investigation management software with a logical, structured workflow. You can assign cases and tasks right in the system. Users also receive alerts when they’ve been assigned a new task and get reminders when work is coming due. Stakeholders stay in the loop and no important steps fall through the cracks.
When managing an investigation, it’s important to keep sensitive data away from prying eyes. Use a system with role-based access to protect everyone involved. You’ll be able to control each user’s access to both entire cases and files within the case.
Make sure you choose a system with a strong data protection program, too. This keeps information secure while ensuring you stay compliant with regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA.
Has your investigation ever fallen behind because you were searching for documents and information? Case management software keeps everything in one place for quick and easy access.
Users can upload evidence, documents and notes right in the investigation file so you don’t waste time tracking down important data. Every activity is documented in the file, making it easy to stay on track and share information.
Managing an investigation means you’re always on the go. If you have to wait to take notes from an investigation site or document an interview, you could forget some key information. Use a web-based investigation management platform that you can access wherever there’s an internet connection. Remote access is convenient, plus it reduces your risk of lost details.
Don’t let an inferior investigation management process put you at risk. Protect your organization and your employees or clients with a strong, intuitive investigation management system.