What to Consider Before you Hire an Investigative Firm
Clients with modern and complex investigative requirements face tough challenges when it comes to finding an investigation firm that can meet their needs. For example, if your company is looking to hire an investigative firm to conduct an internal investigation, choosing one that understands your operating environment is key. You will also want to ensure they have the resources (i.e., technologies, personnel) to meet your requirement, and that they are cognizant of the cultural and reputational risk factors to your company.
So, how do you ensure you choose the right service provider for you? In this blog, we share a simple framework you can use to help assess whether the investigative or analytical team you are considering is the right fit.
The “Four P’S” of Investigation
Does the Investigative Firm Have The Appropriate Personnel in Place?
It is common practice for firms to use both their own qualified personnel, and other specialists within the field to assist with investigations. Relying on a specialist can be beneficial in situations where services are required in a certain geographical area, or if the investigation involves a specific area of expertise. For KeyNorth, our headquarters are in Ottawa, but we also have team members in Toronto. We also have other trusted partner agencies in other locales that we work with when needed. Regardless of what firm you are considering, making sure they have the qualifications and capabilities to meet your investigative needs is critical.
Is your company interested in working with our Team as an investigative partner? Contact us to share with us your unique skill sets, experience, and location. We look forward to working with you!
Does the Process for Evidence or Intelligence Gathering Make Sense for Your Needs?
The next thing to consider is the process the firm uses to collect information. There are a variety of frameworks available. The most popular one is the Intelligence Cycle, which is commonly used by investigators and analysts. However, there may be times where other intelligence gathering-methods need to be used. For example, if an investigation involves a large dataset, or e-discovery, you will want to hire a teak that has the knowledge and experience to process this size and/ or type of data.
Does the Organization Have the Means (People, Processes, Technologies, and Tools) to Adequately Meet my Investigative Needs?
By “platform” we mean the intersection of the people, processes, technologies, and tools the investigator will use. This can vary according to the type of investigation. For instance, surveillance investigators need cameras, computer forensic personnel need forensic tools, and data/ predictive analysts use tools like Mindbridge AI. Additionally, forensic auditors rely on tools to convert bank statements to comma-separated values (CSV) formats, whereas open-source intelligence (OSINT) practitioners have a strong working knowledge of public record, social media platforms, and the internet in general. Your goal is to find someone with the expertise and experience to put it all together.
In modern investigations, even traditional tools are limited by the capacities of the platform. Let’s look at interviewing. It is one of the stalwart tools of investigation, but there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. For example, the preparation required for conducting a proper interview often requires an understanding of how the information was obtained. Another important aspect of interviewing is being able to collate data from various sources, sort, analyze, and report on the findings or results.
Does the Company Have Appropriate Policies in Place to Protect the Company, Including its Reputation From Risk?
Broadly speaking, policies refer to the laws and internal policies that govern the investigative activities within your organization. For instance, companies may be required to adhere to the Privacy Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, Values and Ethics Codes or internal investigations policies. Let’s say an organization is investigating an allegation of workplace harassment. In this case, the investigative team must be familiar with employment laws within that jurisdiction.
Let’s look at another example; in Ontario, private investigators are governed by the Private Security and investigative Services Act. This Act is broad and includes activities beyond what one may consider “traditional” private investigation activities. Similar legislation exists in other provinces and states. If the firm you are considering is properly licensed, they will have insurance and are subject to other regulatory requirements designed to protect you, the client. For more information on this you can check with the government department responsible for the specific area of interest in your jurisdiction.
Having an investigative partner that works with your company is a real asset. By considering the “four Ps of Investigation” you will have the information you need to ensure they are the right fit.