Constantly looking for ways to improve your investigation workflows ensures that the investigation process is faster, more organised and smoother. Efficient and productive workflows allow the investigation team to work together, minimise errors and stay on top of tasks. Setting up investigation workflows that work for your team may take time but can help optimise your results.

How to improve your investigation workflows

If you have found out that your investigation workflows need improvement, that is not a failure – constant improvement is something we should all aim for, all the time. The first step is to always review your current processes and think about what else you can do to make the current situation better. When investigation teams become complacent, this is usually where problems start. Here are a few ways you can drive improvement:

  • Plan the process before you start
  • Standardise the process
  • Automate as many tasks as you can
  • Communicate effectively 
  • Always look for learning opportunities
  • Clarify who is responsible for what
  • Detailed Reporting
  • Check how each person is performing
  • Re-evaluate again and again

Plan the process before you start

Before you start an investigation, sit down with your team and discuss what policies, rules and laws apply to the investigation that will be conducted. These can help in developing more accurate investigation workflows that are relevant. Ask them to document the actions they took at each step as this can help improve workflows for the next investigation. When investigators take notes of what they did, giving them time to look at them and think about what they could do better can encourage brainstorming and more appropriate solutions. Predictable activities have a higher automation potential.

Standardise the process

To standardise the investigation process, you need to look at the types of investigations your company deals with. These include harassment, cybersecurity, compliance violations and more. After that, try to define the goals and the timeline in which the investigation needs to be completed. 

It is advisable to get your team together so you can walk through the investigation process and identify any areas of high variation. Analyse whether you have used similar methods in any of the investigations and stick to the most effective ones. An example of a process that could be standardised is the triage, in incident response. While investigations can vary widely in what they find and exactly how they’re conducted, you may find that the higher level process is fairly consistent – we find most investigations across very different industries follow some process of triage, allocation, investigation, and report writing.

Automate as many tasks as you can

Please take the time to consider which tasks in your investigation workflow could be automated. For example, reminders, case updates or task assignments are tasks that could be automated to reduce manual errors. Automating tasks can reduce the mental load of investigators as they have fewer things to worry about. Emails and letters can be pre-written using mail merge fields as well as logic to insert different text (e.g. different sections of your HR policies) depending on different decisions, saving time and reducing errors.

Automation doesn’t only help with risk management, but with saving time as well. Investigators can spend more time on core responsibilities as they don’t have to manually enter details into spreadsheets. Our customers trust Polonious to automate and streamline their investigation workflows. We ensure that workflows are customised to fit the specific needs and goals of the investigation. Our system also allows the integration of different software that further assists with efficiency and achieving more optimised results. If you want to know more, we can give you a free demo of our system!

Communicate effectively

The investigation process has many steps before the final result is reached. This means that there is little to no space for misunderstandings and poor communication. Before starting an investigation, talk to the team about how they will communicate, which channels they can use and encourage them to ask questions rather than assume. Assumptions can lengthen investigation workflows and make them more inefficient as the team might then need to focus on an error that was made rather than investigation-related tasks. 

Moreover, encouraging your team members to avoid unnecessary meetings is advised. 

Always look for learning opportunities

One of the best ways to get ideas for improving investigation workflows is by attending training sessions and conferences. That way the team gets to hear from other experts, brainstorm, share experiences and catch up with the latest methods and technologies. Learning opportunities can be expensive but can provide a lot of value to the team. It is great to see how other individuals think and what steps they have taken to improve their own investigation workflows as someone could come up with solutions your team wasn’t able to. 

Employees will also need training once the new workflows are set up so they can become familiar with them and provide feedback on how helpful they actually are. 

investigation workflows

Clarify who is responsible for what

Investigation workflows thrive when there is clarity and organisation. If the team is confused about who is doing what and there isn’t clear task delegation, it can delay the investigation process. This is because it can jeopardise the sequence of tasks, and employees might end up working on the same tasks simultaneously. For example, having two investigators conducting the same interviews, which can upset the interviewees and the organisation. 

Detailed Reporting

When looking to improve your investigation workflows, it is important to have detailed reporting on all of your cases. At the bare minimum, you should be measuring overall case times, and outcomes. However, this is often not enough to determine where workflows need improvement – yes, you know certain cases take a long time, and you may be able to come to some high level conclusions about certain investigators or case types being slower or faster than others. However, you don’t get any information about where the delay or wasted time is.

Polonious allows you to measure the time between individual workflow steps, so that you can determine e.g. if it’s triage, allocation, investigation, or report writing that’s taking time, or at an even more granular level if the report writing is done quickly but the approval takes too long. This allows you to find and improve bottlenecks in your workflows.

Meanwhile, measuring outcomes versus case times and budgets allows you to determine if particular case types are worth your time and effort. E.G. if a certain fraud or scam type usually takes a long time and nets very little recovery, it might not be worth pursuing in future. Additionally, if you can report on control failures identified during the investigation, you can tighten your fraud and misconduct controls to prevent cases from arising in the future.

Re-evaluate again and again

As we mentioned before, every investigation team should strive for continuous improvement. If investigation workflows are not reviewed regularly they can become outdated, inefficient and costly. The company may not realise that their current process is costly as the costs don’t change but there are always new solutions that are being developed that look at making the investigation process easier, simpler and faster. Encourage your team to share any ideas they might have and constantly ask them for feedback on how they think the current workflows are.

Are you looking to streamline your investigation workflows?

We work with many clients from different industries who eventually realise how important case management systems are to investigation workflows. On top of helping with streamlining workflows and automating tasks, we provide our customers with a confidential storage space where they can upload all their evidence and files. We are ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 certified, showing our commitment to delivering a safe and high-quality system. If you want to achieve faster turnaround times and better results, reach out! We would be happy to give you a demo of how our system could help you.