Let’s get right to the meat of things. Most organizations, large and small, invariably find they need to hire an Investigations Service. Possibly a competitor is stealing away much needed staffers or business secrets? The only way to find out is with an investigation.
So, with that in mind, here are five ways to ensure you make the right decision when selecting an investigations service:
- Referral Vetting
Most clients seek or receive referrals from others who have firsthand experience with investigation services or know someone that has. Referrals are usually a great way to identify competent service, but usually, referrals only provide information regarding successful outcomes and the delivery of sound professional advice. When seeking or receiving a referral, ask specific, targeted questions about the type of service received by the individual or organization. Remember to include questions about the nature of the work, unique issues that may have cropped up during the investigation, and the level of satisfaction with the results.
- Research, Research, Research
Don’t take a referral as your sole point of reference. It is best to conduct independent research for an investigations service via open sources (online search, media articles, website, etc.) to learn as much as possible before contacting the investigation service. In other words, do your due-diligence. When it comes to price, don’t take the lowest cost provider or the highest priced investigative service. The charges for a quality service will likely fall somewhere in the middle.
- Conducting a Personal Interview is Key
Before hiring anyone or organization, it is imperative to conduct a personal interview with the the consultant from the investigations service. Ask about their approach to conducting investigations, past clients, past performance, communication methods, and contract requirements. At no time should an investigative consultant give answers that will betray the confidence of past clients; if this happens, consider it a definite warning sign that confidentiality is not a priority for that consultant and move on. With a thorough personal interview, you should learn about the potential consultant’s background, experience, attitude, expertise, ethics, and approach.
- Credentials are Important
The investigations world generates a confusing array of credentials. The most important one when it comes to investigations is a Private Investigator (PI) license. Acquiring such a license requires a significant effort in most locations, including successfully demonstrating the necessary knowledge and experience to perform the work professionally. Criteria and requirements to get a Private Investigator License can vary. Credentials and licenses can usually be verified with a local government body or the organization that issued them. A qualified investigations service must have one.
- Set and Understand Expectations
When preparing to engage investigative services, it is crucially important to be very clear about expectations. Typically, this is accomplished by preparing a written and detailed Scope of Work (SOW) in the negotiating and contracting process. Often it is the client, the one hiring the investigation service that prepares this. This way, it can be shared with all potential candidates and helps ensure, especially when charges are considered, that the client is comparing apples with applies and not apples and oranges. Their should be a “Deliverables” clause in the SOW. It should be as straightforward as possible and should include objectives, proposed methodology, and schedules.
Conclusions about Selecting an Investigation Service
The bottom line is this.
When hiring an investigation service, your goal is to select an organization that is honest, credentialed, and experienced. This will help ensure they conduct themselves professionally, accomplish what they have been hired to do, and provide you with the information you need.
Of all the points we have made here, what is likely of the most significant importance is to do your due diligence. While most licensed investigation services are reputable and honorable organizations, you want to find the most reputable and the most honorable to work for you.
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