Consider the Four ‘P’s of Investigation Services, How to Determine if you Investigation Partners are the Right Fit for your Engagement

Clients with modern and complex investigation requirements, particularly in the area of fraud or cyber investigations face tough challenges when trying to assess whether or not an investigation firm has the right skill set and processes in place to meet their needs.

Does the firm understand your operating environment if it is an internal investigation? Do they employ the right technologies or professionals that can tackle your needs? Do they understand the business needs of the organization as well as the cultural and reputational risk factors involved?

How does a client assess their service providers in these cases? Here is simple a framework you can use to determine if you’re working with the right investigation or analytical partner.

People: Does the organization have the right people in place, either internally or through their network?  It is not uncommon that a firm will have qualified personnel to provide services in their core competency areas, and then use partners or specialists to fill a specific role. We are headquartered in Ottawa, and have team members in Toronto. We use trusted partner agencies in other geographies to assist us where required. As a client, you want to be able to quickly assess whether or not the team you’re going to work with have the qualifications and experience to meet your needs.

If you’re interested in becoming one of our investigative partners, please email us at and tell us about your unique skill sets, experience and location. We’re always looking for great partners.

Process: Does the process for evidence or intelligence gathering make sense for your needs? There are a number of frameworks available for intelligence gathering. The most famous is the Intelligence Cycle which works as a general guideline for most investigative and intelligence gathering activities. However, in modern investigations where big data sets are used and e-discovery is a consideration, other process models should be considered.

An example has been proposed by Nuix, the e-discovery software maker. They describe their process in their excellent whitepaper “The Investigative Lab: A Model for Efficient Collaborative Digital Investigations.”

Platform: We use the term “Platform” to broadly describe the intersection of people, processes, technologies and tools that they use to carry out their investigations. Surveillance investigators need cameras, computer forensic personnel need forensic tools, data analysis and predictive analytics professionals need tools like Mindbridge AI. Forensic auditors need tools to convert bank statements to csv formats. Open source intelligence professionals need a strong general knowledge of the public record, social media and what is available on the Internet in general.  Someone needs to put it all together.

In modern investigations event traditional tools are subject to the capacities of the platform. For example, interviewing is one of the stalwart tools of investigation; however, the preparation required for conducting a proper interview often necessitates an understanding of how information was obtained, how information from disparate sources fits together and what its value is.

Policies: Policies refer broadly to the laws and internal policies that govern investigation activities in your organization. Your organization may be subject to the Privacy Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, Values and Ethics Codes or internal investigations policies. If you are an organization and dealing with a workplace bullying incident, then employment law in your jurisdiction will certainly impact the investigation.

Private investigators in Ontario are governed by the Private Security and investigative Services Act. The Act is broad and includes activities beyond what one might consider “traditional” private investigation activities. Similar legislation exists in other provinces and states. If your partners are properly licensed they will have insurance and are subject to other regulatory requirements designed to protect clients. For more information, visit our FAQ page or check with the government department responsible for the field in your province or state.

The policies are tools to help manage the risk of investigation activities to your organization.

By considering the Four Ps of Investigation, you will have a better chance of determining whether or not a firm is the right forensic investigation partner for you. If you have a fraud investigation, litigation support requirement or an investigative research requirement please contact us for a consultation.