Question Marks

Does my company need a case management system?  Which case management system is right for me?  What should I pay for a case management system?  What features do I need?  Which is better software based or web based?  How secure is my data?   In our latest blog we offer answers to these questions as well as advice on the relatively new industry of Private Investigation Case Management Systems (CMS).

We have reviewed five aspects of a PI business and how they relate to a CMS.

The Office

A CMS should help the user save time and stay organized.  If you spend any amount of time looking for information, searching through files, entering data in Excel spreadsheets or writing notes on a dry erase board, it may be time to explore your options.  The cost of a CMS can be offset by you being able to bill out additional hours that will be saved as a result of implementing a CMS.  Most systems have a free trial period.  Try them and see which one meets the needs of your business.  Consider these valuable tips.  Determine if the system is compatible on all potential platforms that you, your staff and clients may use, including PC, Mac and mobile devices.  The system is worthless to you if your users are unable to access it because they prefer using a Mac or an Android tablet for example.  See what customizations are available.  You should be able to brand the system so your logo appears throughout.  Look for features such as case scheduling, calendars, and automatic e-mails that allow you to save time and in turn make more money.

The Field

The ability for investigators and vendors to access case information in the field is one of the most important features.  The time saved by not having to constantly e-mail reports, information, photos, videos and other information to investigators and vendors working a case for you is a very important time saving feature.  Be sure the system can be viewed easily and efficiently on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet.  This feature is critical when a subject needs to be identified or a piece of information is needed while in the field.  Be cautious of a CMS that in order for you to use the system requires the “Download” of a program to your computer or is described as “Stand Alone”.  Some portion of your data may not be accessible from the field or on a mobile device.

The Business

Most systems provide unlimited client access which is a big advantage for some companies.  Your clients may have the ability to log in, assign cases, review case data, and keep track of cases they have assigned.  If you decide to implement a CMS it opens up a huge marketing opportunity for your business.  First you can “announce” the new system to prospects as well as conducting a “roll out” to existing clients.  Now you have the opportunity for some face time by setting an appointment to give them a quick overview on the use and benefits of the system.  Explain how it will benefit the business relationship.  .  If you conduct domestic investigation, you may not want your clients to access the system.  Simply create a “dummy” client in the system which is very easy and simple solution.

The Security

Ask questions.  Go one step further and read the CMS security policy.  Talk to the company representative about the security measures in place.  The security of your data is of the utmost importance and needs to be secure.  What happens if you decide to stop using the system?  What happens if the company goes out of business?  Who has access to the data?  All of these are valid questions.  Do not be afraid to ask them, they are extremely important.  Look for a security “seal” or “certificate” on the login page.  Once you are signed up for a trial, if there is not a “lock” icon and “https” in the address bar, the system is not secure.

The Cost

Now to the most important part:  What is a CMS going to cost?  The pricing, as with most software, depends on how many users will have access to the system.  The more users a company has, the higher the price.  Most systems bill their users on a monthly basis.  There are often add-on costs for additional users and storage.  Our advice is to find a plan and price you are comfortable with.  Be cautious and identify any fees beyond the monthly fee.  Some of the fees to be concerned about are: Per Case Fees, Access Fees, Report Fees, Sync Fees, File Upload Fees, Client Access Fees and E-Mail Fees.  If the pricing grid is long and complicated, be careful.  There are systems and plans out there to meet the needs of any investigative agency.  The lowest price available  is currently $19 per month.

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