When running your investigation company, it’s a good idea to think a little about how your customers perceive you and where you fit into their mix of vendors and why. It may surprise you. With my experience on both sides of the fence, I hope to throw some light on one part of this relationship and help you define your future.
Often we are asked what are the key benefits of Polonious investigation management to an organization. I sum it up this way ‘we help you keep your clients’. Let me explain what I mean.
We enable you to build investigative processes that reflect your uniqueness and help you bring those benefits to the market.
We enable you to comply with current IT requirements such as security, disaster recovery and redundancy.
We enable you to report on your investigations and business via business intelligence reporting tools.
We augment your ability to win business, but your organizations talents have done that already, that is how you got to where you are.
Above all else we help you keep your clients.
Delivering late will lose you business.
Nothing limits your business more. Time is always a constraint on an investigation, much more so than budget.
I have had experience both running a successful PI Firm and running SIUs for several national insurance carriers so take it from me that I understand both sides of this challenge.
The SIU Perspective: ‘Controlling Fraud and Managing Vendors’
From a SIU viewpoint when my vendors (suppliers) were slow in completing work I simply instructed other vendors to do any new cases for me. Even if the slow firm produced higher quality results I knew they would eventually cost me my relationship with my client, the claims department.
So on a day to day basis, I chose vendors who could deliver on time. I categorized the other vendor as ’boutique’. I would use boutique vendors when I had a special requirement and I was willing to wait for a result.
The outcome of this for the boutique vendor is;
* Recognition for high quality
* Less work because of bandwidth issues
* Harder cases to work because they have been identified as boutique
This was not exactly where they wanted to be in the market. If it was then they needed to extract significantly higher rates than their competitors and work harder to produce a better result.
From my experience running SIUs, and despite many phone conversations with such vendors claiming they were late as they were being more thorough, producing a better product, at critical times they often weren’t. Even those that were ‘mostly’ delivering a superior product delivered more sub standard investigations more often than those companies that could handle much bigger workloads. The key difference being they had investigation management systems in place to check their process and quality.
The PI Firm Perspective: ‘Nulli secundus’ (second to none)
You have started the firm confident in the knowledge that you can do a better job, are a better investigator than the current competitors in the market place. You are passionate about what you do and every job that heads your way gets your full attention and is delivered on time, on budget with all the dots on the Is and crosses on the Ts.
This gets much harder to replicate as the firm grows. You need to capture:
* The processes
* Investigation methodology
* Reporting requirements
These are the things that made you a success and are often compromized with the growth of the firm.
To try to stop this, the founder / owner ends up reading every report before it goes out the door and even worse checking every invoice to ensure both quality and profitability. Now the very person that was the cornerstone of the firm is its greatest constraint.
Investigations that are not up to the firms standards are sent back out to the field for completion and the firm eats the expense. Profitability is reduced and ultimately the reports are delivered late.
In a short time after successfully growing you have gone from great to late.
Your clients are starting to recognize your organizational constraints even if you can’t and have already decided what your likely case load is per month. You may well be downsized.
Now your choices are:
* Systematize the business from the receipt of a case through to invoicing and quality assurance to achieve both quality and timeliness so you can handle the workload the market wants to give you
* Decide that growth is not what you want, start pushing up your prices and market yourself as an expert in specific fields
If your choice is systemization and growth, Polonious can help you keep your clients, whilst you grow your business.
So how does a Polonious investigation management system help your business? We help you deliver your high quality investigations on time and on budget.
Contact Polonious to find out how we can help your business.
About the Author
Alastair has more than 28 years of experience in the law enforcement and the investigation industry and has guided the rollout of the Polonious Investigation Management System to over 50 organizations across the globe. Our customers have varied business processes and requirements from large insurance carriers with hundreds of investigators and adjusters to small forensic teams. Each now has a customized solution to meet their needs.
Alastair Steel, Dip.Crim. is the co-founder of Polonious.
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