Unpacking The Investigation Management Methodology
What is investigation management? To break it down, the term investigation typically refers to an environment where exploratory work is undertaken. Management by its common interpretation refers to the efficiency, effectiveness and quality of an operational or business activity.
From this, we can conclude that Investigation Management refers to the craft that produces the efficiency, effectiveness and quality of exploratory work.
Increasing Investigation Efficiency
So how do we increase the efficiency of an investigation? Let’s assume that we can define an efficient investigation as the acceptable ratio of investigation input variables (Resources [R] and Duration [D]) to the investigation output variables (investigation outcomes [O] or results). Or put simply,
R + D + O = E where E is the efficiency of the investigation
The effectiveness of investigations is characterised by the quality and impact of the investigation outcomes or results. Craig Doran, Founder and CEO of COMtrac explains,
“For example, an effective criminal investigation may be where all elements of the offence(s) are proven or negated, and a reasonable or relative penalty has been achieved. An effective incident investigation is where all causes and root causes of incidents are identified and suitable, economical and justifiable preventative action, and where appropriate disciplinary action has been implemented.”
“Administrative investigation where all the alleged misconduct has been proven or negated and justifiable disciplinary action has been taken. Other forms of effectiveness may be where the impact of the investigative outcome acts as a deterrent to others or prevents other undesirable incidents from reoccurring,” he added.
Examples of investigations that have failed to achieve or have had limited effectiveness may be referenced as those in which the elements of the offence have not been proven (criminal), the root cause of incident not identified (incident investigations), misconduct not exposed or suitably dealt with, or a variety of other desired outcomes were not achieved.
To simplify, the objectives of the investigation were not achieved. If the desired or acceptable objectives are not achieved, then the investigation is not effective.
“There are undoubtedly investigations where these objectives were never achievable due to factors out of the control or influence of the investigating agency. But for the most part, objectives of investigations are often not achieved as a result of the manner, quantity and quality of the evidence obtained and the substandard resulting outcomes,” Craig explained.
The evidence gathering and recording strategy is often the underlying characteristic of ineffective outcomes. Hence, we see again the potential to improve the effectiveness of an investigation lies within a strategy of improvement to the investigation management methodology.
Increasing the quality of investigations
This leads us to the next point – the quality of the evidence gathered and recorded.
The quality is defined by several factors including:
- The lawfulness of the methods used to access and seize the evidence;
- The integrity and continuity of the evidence from seizure to presentation in proceedings;
- The design, delivery and importantly the interpretability of evidence-based briefs and reports; and,
- The relevance and value of the evidence to the investigation objectives (e.g., elements of the offence).
“As was previously suggested when analysing efficiency and effectiveness, the quality is often determined by how the evidence was collected and handled. The methodology of evidence identification, assessment and handling will have a direct impact on the quality of the investigation on its conclusion,” Craig said.
The component of the investigation management methodology that directly attributes to evidence management must also be improved to increase investigative quality.
Investigation Management Methodology
If the common characteristic of the efficiency, effectiveness and quality of investigations is the investigation management methodology then this is where innovation or strategies for improvement should be targeted. Here the previous of transactional work versus exploratory work becomes important.
Transactional work is better equated with organisational processes and in turn the relevant case management system (CMS) in place. Whereas exploratory work is the craft of problem-solving and operational activity.
Focussing on processes and problems produces two quite different patterns of thought and action. Process improvement is a managerial method for improving the agency’s processes and is where most CMS are focused. Whereas problem-solving is an operational method for working on the harms or more importantly the characteristics of those harms which impede exploratory work (investigations) from achieving the desired standards.
This fact returns us to the original hypothesis discussed here, as to why many case management systems fail to have a positive influence on the efficiency, effectiveness or quality of investigations. Time and time again, it’s due to the CMS focusing on the transactional work associated with investigations, rather than improving the way exploratory work has been conducted.
According to Craig,
“To truly have an impact on exploratory work undertaken during investigations we must improve the investigation management methodology. Once we find a better investigation management methodology then it needs to be locked into an investigation management system.”
“This is where good investigation management technology comes in. Investigation Management Systems are management environments for exploratory work specifically designed for the exploratory nature of investigations.”
An investigation management system (IMS) offers a collaborative approach that can help you reap the benefits of automation in environments where people, information and process collide. It needs to improve the workflow, investigator productivity and reduce the cycle times without forcing the exploratory nature of investigations into transactional structure, as is often the case with traditional CMS.
Designing an Investigation Management System
The design of successful IMS must have the three following characteristics:
- It addresses the common characteristics of the harms which exist within exploratory work associated with poor investigations.
- It is intuitive, having clear supportive qualities to the investigator to ensure their commitment to its use and implementation.
- It provides a consistent, central and strategic investigation management methodology and deters or removes individual silos of investigation management practices.
The design of an effective IMS should not be based on micromanaging every possible risk that could occur in an investigation. It is about analysing the causes of those undesirable investigation outcomes, focussing on the harm concentrations, understanding their characteristics, and inventing effective solutions.
COMtrac provides a custom workflow built specifically for investigations. We automate and accelerate your investigations, using a highly secure and scalable platform. COMtrac automatically generating your digital brief of evidence and investigative outputs. Our customers report saving 34.5% on investigation timelines.