There is an old business adage that effectively says…”if you are not moving forward, changing and growing, then you are actually going backwards”.
That statement has never been more applicable for private investigators than it is today. Software designed for PI’s often comes with many “bells and whistles” and almost always offers helpful functionality that any size business could benefit from.
If the 9 points below do not hit home with you, keep this general rule in mind: if the software you decide on is not comprehensive, if it does not interface easily with the other elements of your business or if it is unable to be customized to your unique business model, you will incur unnecessary cost and implementation problems that have the ability to disrupt your business.
If you are conducting and managing investigations, it is imperative that you implement a case management system and that system offer key elements and functionality to ensure overall success.
Consider these 9 key points Private Investigators should look for when selecting a case management solution.
01 – MONITOR CASE FILES & INVESTIGATORS IN THE OFFICE AND IN THE FIELD
Access to information anywhere, anytime is important. The peace of mind that comes with technology that allows you to protect your reputation and business is invaluable
Above all else, the work product for your client base is paramount and critical to your success. Whether you are utilizing employee investigators or outsourcing cases to third parties, be certain the case management system offers efficient ways to monitor their work, submit their results and update clients.
Look for: GPS tracking, mobile app, cloud based and employee performance reports
02 – IS IT SECURE? LOOK DEEPTER THAN THE GREEN LOCK ICON
The system should be secure and the data entered should be encrypted. It should always protect the integrity of your firm’s unique client base, case load and data. Only then will you be able to take full advantage of the platform and go “all-in”. Being comfortable with how data is handled allows you to embrace the platform and all of its benefits.
The ability to download your data and save it locally to your computer or hard drive is a must! If you cannot go in and save it at anytime, look elsewhere.
Look for: A security policy, NDA option and the ability to save your data to your own device
03 – A PROVEN COMPANY…. AND PLATFORM
You should not be the “beta” tester. Here’s a few ways to tell if you are.
- Is the system being utilized by existing private investigation firms?
- Has feedback from users been incorporated into updates and how often is this done?
- Has the system been constantly updated and improved?
- Are you encountering a lot of bugs?
For that matter, was the system driven and developed by industry experts or is it a superficial system, long on technology but short on substance?
Ask the questions!
Look for: Date the software launched and other companies using the system.
04 – CUSTOMIZATION OPTIONS ARE CRITICAL TO A PI BUSINESS
Every company and every investigator is different, has different processes and the types of cases vary widely. Having a system that can be customized to meet these needs is critical.
You will want the ability to customize things like case types, services, pricing, report templates, time zones, date format, user access and more…
The ability to add your company name, logo and brand the system as your own is a great option.
Be certain you are aligning yourself with a platform that truly helps you grow and move forward. If the system is creating more work for you, ask for support to see if there is an easier way. If not, move on.
Look for: Customization options, setup assistance and video tutorials for learning.
05 – PLAYS WELL WITH OTHER SOFTWARE YOU CURRENTLY USE
You will want to continue to work with programs such as Office, Outlook, Gmail, Quickbooks, etc. Are there API’s (Application Program Interface) available for more advanced integrations if necessary?
This may appear to not be on your radar in the beginning, but it should be seriously considered as it will be a factor in the future. The accuracy of data is crucial and by interfacing with other elements of your business (e.g. e-mail, accounting, reporting etc.) it helps ensure data consistency.
As you grow, controls and efficiencies from these interfaces are of great benefit and allow for automation to occur which can lead to increased profits. Integrations can lead to a significant time savings. As an example, when an invoice is created, it can be entered automatically in your Quickbooks software.
Look for: Programs or services the system currently integrates with, directly and via API.
06 – UNDERSTAND THE PLANS, THE FEATURES INCLUDED AND ANY ADDITIONAL COSTS
The availability of a free trial tells you the software provider believes in their product and that if you truly take the time to explore the platform, they believe the benefits will be transparent and the value proposition obvious. A free trial period is useless if you do not embrace learning and using the system.
Be careful of a very low monthly fees, case limits, or per case fees. There may be additional costs for things such as features or users. Determine if choosing a cheaper plan will restrict the ability to access and use important features you will need for your company.
Do not fall for long term “free” offers or trials. Although everyone in a tight and competitive market is sensitive to ANY costs…..one can often “lose the forest through the trees”. Most monthly usage fees are actually quite immaterial to the business.
Look for: Flat rate pricing, feature rich pricing plans, yearly discounts, a referral program.
07 – SUPPORTED BY HUMANS….. QUICKLY AND IN DIFFERENT WAYS
Everyone learns differently. Some prefer to read FAQ’s or support articles. You or your investigators may learn the system better from watching tutorial videos. A well thought out and accessible support program is often overlooked but is one of the most crucial questions to ask. Determine what type of support and training is included with the monthly plan.
Inertia and the energy to get started is sometimes a hurdle for even true go-getters. Don’t let that stop you.
Ask how the software provider can help facilitate the transfer of your data. Most quality providers will also offer training modules and detailed instructions. Understand them and a transition should be simple.
Look for: Support offerings, ask if 1 on 1 or team training is available in case you need extra help
08 – COMPANY AND STAFF PERFORMANCE REPORTS
How many cases did ABC Law Firm send in last month? Was there an increase or decrease? Do you need to talk to them or bring in lunch to their office?
What was the video percentage for surveillance cases last month? How is the new investigator’s performance? What cases are the most profitable?
These are all important questions any company owner should know the answer to. Data input from the field should naturally flow to reporting packages seamlessly. Are the standard reports highly useful, practical and easy to produce? Can the custom reports help you accentuate the key elements and competitive advantages your unique business brings to the table?
Look for: Company reporting, sales reports, client metrics and performance report capability
09 – AUTOMATE REPETITIVE TASKS, REPORTS, BILLING, & PAY DAY
Automation is as important as any of the above. Technology and individual pieces of software may not be viewed as important by themselves, but having a group of programs working in concert is paramount.
A preferable platform choice will allow you and/or your staff to automate repetitive admin tasks and simplify daily tasks.
Leveraging case management software to run your business provides more built-in controls, alleviates extensive time-consuming tasks and allows you to oversee revenue generating activities like reports, billing and employee payments.
Look for: Report and invoice features, billing and expense tracking and staff payment options.
CROSStrax launched in 2014 and has quickly become the investigators preferred choice for case management software due to a comprehensive feature set and affordable pricing options
Members of the CROSStrax team have presented the topic of case management, its features and implementation at PI Conferences and State Association meetings across the country.
The Customer Success team offers insights and tips on helping investigators with case management.
Easily schedule a time and date that is convenient for you at www.calendly.com/crosstraxsales