Enhancing Efficiency in Investigation Processes: A Path to Better Outcomes and Cost Savings
The landscape for corporate services delivery within Canadian federal government departments is evolving. There are complex factors at play including: a growing labour force, complying with policy (and law) in addressing employee malfeasance or other security issues, while at the same time reducing costs.
In this blog post, we will delve into the significance of process improvements in investigation workflows and explore how organizations can achieve tangible benefits through these enhancements.
Process Efficiency Leading to Better Outcomes
Efficient investigation processes enable organizations to accelerate the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data, leading to quicker decision-making and issue resolution. Whether it’s identifying potential risks, uncovering insider threats, or investigating operational anomalies, a streamlined workflow reduces the time investigators spend on manual tasks.
To start, an investigation plan should be developed for every engagement. While plans and real life can deviate, a plan will help to keep the investigation process on track. Over a number of engagements, routine actions that occur in every investigation will be observed. Management should consider whether those routine tasks can be systematized or automated. They should also consider if there are parts of the process that can be removed without damaging the integrity of the investigation.
The answers to these questions can impact the time required to investigate and therefore the cost of an investigation. Furthermore, any time delays will impact the individuals involved either as complainants, witnesses or respondents in the investigation. To the extent possible, those involved deserve to know the findings of the investigation in as timely manner.
Optimizing Resource Allocation
Investigative tasks often involve a combination of manual effort and technological tools. Furthermore, the people with the right level of experience and expertise should be doing the tasks that they are best suited to.
Investments in Training and Skills
A modern corporate investigator requires a number of skills which may not have been requirements in the past. They certainly have to be able to review documents and records, review camera footage and conduct interviews. Also, a large part of modern investigations involves the use of technology for information collection, analysis and visualization purposes. Furthermore, the investigator must have an understanding of what types of information might be available in the corporate environment even if they are not the ones collecting and analyzing the information.
Organizations that invest in these individuals will see a return on that investment in terms of more comprehensive (and therefore risk-managed) investigations. It will also save time and money because the investigators will know where to look for information and how to analyze it in a reasonable timeframe.
Leveraging Quality Control Procedures
Accuracy is paramount in investigations. A robust process improvement strategy focuses on ensuring the accuracy and reliability of the data used in investigations. By implementing quality control measures organizations can minimize errors and discrepancies that could lead to misguided decisions which could result in litigation risk for the organization.
Individuals can make the mistake of skipping quality control because they are under pressure, but this can lead to bad outcomes downstream in the arbitration or litigation process which can result in significant reputational and financial costs to the organization. A robust quality control process helps mitigate these risks of costly mistakes.
A Collaborative Approach Between Stakeholders
Effective investigations require collaboration among various teams and departments. Streamlined investigation processes encourage cross-functional collaboration by providing a clear and standardized framework for sharing information and insights among stakeholders.
In corporate investigation environments, stakeholders can include but not be limited to labour relations, legal, corporate security, records management, information technology security, management and external parties such as other departments, subject matter experts, or in some cases law enforcement.
When protocols have been established in advance, teams can pool their expertise and perspectives to gain a comprehensive understanding of the situation at hand. This shared insight often leads to better-informed decisions and faster resolution of issues, ultimately reducing the potential costs of prolonged investigations.
While we argue that collaboration is vitally important, consideration should also be given to how much input stakeholders should have and how often that input should be sought. We recommend establishing these protocols in advance of incidents in order to avoid delays in the investigation process.
In conclusion, the importance of process improvements in investigation workflows cannot be overstated. From accelerating insights to fostering collaboration, ensuring data accuracy to cultivating a culture of continuous improvement, organizations stand to gain multiple benefits by streamlining their investigation processes. These benefits extend beyond immediate cost savings, they produce better investigation outcomes and mitigate an organization’s risk.