12 Investigative Techniques and Tools to Improve Your Investigation Workflows | ZyLAB

Corporate investigators face more challenges now than ever before. Corporate misdeeds are growing increasingly sophisticated as globalization pushes businesses into new markets and a 24/7 dispersed work model.

Corporate data is relentlessly expanding in both volume and complexity, meaning there’s always more data to sift through to find evidence of misconduct. As organizations are expected to do more to uncover misdeeds, their budgets are dwindling.

Managing investigations effectively and efficiently may sound like a tall order, but there is hope. Investigators are nimble by nature, and technology is constantly evolving to meet these new challenges.

If you stay current on the latest developments in the investigative field and consistently add to your repertoire of investigative techniques and tools, you can rise to the challenge.

In this post, we’ll first differentiate investigative techniques and investigative tools before setting out eight investigative techniques that corporate investigators should use and four tools that lead to successful investigations.


What are investigative techniques?
What are investigative tools?
8 investigative techniques you should implement now
4 innovative tools you can use to level up your investigations
Leverage investigative techniques and tools to give your investigations a much-needed boost

What are investigative techniques?

Investigative techniques are strategies for managing corporate investigations, from collecting evidence to drawing conclusions. Most of these strategies are high-level practices that corporate investigators can apply to all kinds of investigations.

By using proven investigative techniques to improve your workflows, you will ultimately generate more thorough and informative reports. These more comprehensive results may help your organization spot weaknesses in its policies or procedures and ward off future misconduct.

Now that we’ve covered investigative techniques, let’s turn to investigative tools.

What are investigative tools?

Investigative tools are programs and devices that investigators use to gather and analyze evidence. In this day and age, investigative tools generally refer to software and other technology.

Corporate investigators can use investigative tools to streamline and simplify their investigations. Handling investigations more efficiently can help you reach a conclusion more quickly, which lets your organization take prompt and effective remedial action.

What types of investigative techniques and tools can help you improve your investigative workflows? Let’s take a look.

8 investigative techniques you should implement now

We’ve compiled eight investigative techniques you can implement to improve the way you perform corporate investigations. These techniques apply to all kinds of investigations, whether they center around compliance, HR issues like discrimination, due diligence, finance, fraud, intellectual property, or other issues.

  1. Be prepared to respond quickly.

When you learn of a report or other event that triggers an investigation, you need to act quickly. Swift action can prevent spoliation of evidence, continued misconduct, and issues with regulatory agencies that operate on short timelines. The best way to enable yourself to respond quickly to a triggering event is to familiarize yourself with your organization’s operations, make a general investigation plan that will guide your approach, and gather the tools you will need to conduct an efficient investigation ahead of time.

  1. Preserve evidence.

In order to conduct a comprehensive investigation and assist with any ensuing regulatory proceeding or litigation, you must have all the relevant data at your disposal. To ensure proper data preservation, you should identify custodians and data sources early on and distribute a legal hold notice to preserve any relevant evidence. You can also—particularly for data that is controlled by a suspected wrongdoer—ask your information technology (IT) department to restrict access to data and suspend users’ ability to delete or modify it during your investigation.

  1. Perform an early case assessment (ECA).

ECA is commonly used in litigation to determine where a matter is likely headed before investing too much in a lost or frivolous cause. Similarly, investigations sometimes benefit from an initial ECA to understand the contours of the issues involved. eDiscovery technology makes ECA easier than ever by giving you a snapshot of the most relevant evidence, which you can use to refine your investigation plan and focus on what is truly relevant.

  1. Provide different ways for employees to make reports.

Employees often find it difficult to report alleged wrongdoing, even when an investigation is already underway. Employees may hesitate to come forward for a variety of reasons, from the desire to preserve relationships to discomfort with difficult subjects to fear of being implicated in wrongdoing. You can encourage employees to offer information by providing multiple avenues for them to make reports, including the following methods:

  • emails,
  • online reporting forms or portals,
  • organization-wide surveys,
  • telephone hotlines, and
  • in-person conversations.

For most of these methods, it may be worthwhile to allow anonymous reporting as well.

  1. Use surveys to gather information.

As mentioned above, you can gather evidence of potential wrongdoing by issuing surveys to employees. Surveys can be especially helpful when you are dealing with a large organization where many people may have snippets of information that could be helpful to your investigation. Surveys can help you aggregate those bits and pieces of evidence into actionable information.

  1. Invest in technology to improve your data collection and evaluation process.

With the amount of data most corporations have today, it is simply impossible for investigators to gather and analyze it manually. Technology is crucial to conducting investigations for this very reason. Technology can help you identify relevant data and review the most important evidence quickly and efficiently. This will save your organization time and money and allow it to take any necessary remedial action sooner to prevent further damage.

  1. Plan and record your interviews.

Regardless of any written information you receive, you will need to conduct face-to-face interviews with employees and third parties who have firsthand knowledge that could aid your investigation. The best interviews involve well-researched questions and should be recorded with the interviewee’s consent for later review.

  1. Use templates to streamline your note-taking process.

Your investigation team must take thorough notes throughout the investigation. These notes can help you recall critical information during later stages of the investigation and may become important in the event of a regulatory proceeding or litigation. You can create or use existing templates to streamline your note-taking process and ensure that you don’t miss any important details.

Next, let’s explore some investigative tools that can help you perform investigations efficiently and successfully.

4 innovative tools you can use to level up your investigations

Investigators may be facing modern-day data challenges, but fortunately, they also have many different modern investigative tools at their disposal. Here are our four favorite investigative tools.

  1. Remote investigation technology

Thanks to technology, you can now conduct part or all of an investigation remotely. Remote investigation tools are usually built around technology-assisted review (TAR), which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze data. Some investigators also use natural language processing (NLP) technology to aid in their international investigations.

Remote investigation technology can allow an investigative team to work from any secure location, investigating potential wrongdoing without arousing as much suspicion and saving both the time and costs associated with travel.

  1. Cloud-based tools

Collecting evidence from cloud-based databases and data repositories can be particularly challenging. More and more corporations store information in the cloud and have data that is generated by cloud-based applications such as Microsoft Teams and Slack or software-as-a-service (SaaS) programs. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important to use software that can help you navigate cloud-based information and extract what you need.

Live early data assessment (EDA), for example, is a solution that allows investigators to connect to over 20 different data sources simultaneously—whether onsite or in the cloud—from a single interface. When you use Live EDA, you can find relevant information quickly and easily. You can also add new custodians or data sources at any point during the investigation without having to start your search from the beginning.

  1. Data analytics tools

Data analytics tools can be great assets when it comes to investigations that deal with numbers, such as fraud and financial investigations. These tools allow you to see patterns, make connections, and analyze large volumes of data quickly. You can then use this information to guide your investigation, draw conclusions, and make recommendations.

Leverage investigative techniques and tools to give your investigations a much-needed boost

Investigations today may look very different than they did 10 years ago, but good investigators learn how to adapt. By employing high-level investigative techniques and innovative investigative tools, you can perform more efficient and effective investigations and protect your organization’s reputation.

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