Business professionals are swamped with information. While “big data” is often considered a challenge (and benefit) for many departments, like IT and finance, it is often used to inform long-term business strategy, companies also are under increasing pressure to effectively use this deluge of data. In many cases, however, existing management tools may not be up to the task of categorizing and quantifying this information. The solution? For many companies, case management software is a way to bridge the gap between the known and unknown, and provide a solid foundation for investigations or remediation. Here are three key benefits of implementing a case management solution.
What is Case Management Software?
Some companies avoid implementing case management technology because they see it as little more than an expensive note-taking venture. In actuality, case management systems do much more than simply organize and record information. They allow centralized access to critical case data, in turn giving knowledge workers the ability to focus on outcomes by reducing the amount of time spent on paperwork and data collection.
Do You Need A Case Management Solution?
How do you know if your company needs case management software? Consider stakeholder expectations: Are you meeting deadlines and providing stakeholders with the specific outcome data they need? As noted by Computer Weekly, 44 percent of companies surveyed said “customer expectation for speed of response” is their biggest business pain point. Forty-six percent, meanwhile, said they're struggling with inflexible electronic case management systems, and 29 percent are using stop-gap, ad hoc file storage to get a handle on emerging cases. Bottom line? If your company is struggling to meet response times, dealing with inflexible systems or has only an ad hoc management in place, case management may be the ideal solution for your data management.
Key Benefit: Organization
The sheer volume of case-related data generated by companies on a daily basis makes it easy to miss key pieces of information or improperly store and organize data once identified. Case management systems are designed to keep all of your case data in a single, central location that is easily accessible and logically segmented. When case descriptions, deadlines, task lists and notes are unified rather than fragmented, you spend less time looking for critical data.
Key Benefit: Analysis
Case Management systems also provide the advantage of analysis. By leveraging the right management software, you get the ability to uncover unique relationships between pieces of case-related data, in turn allowing case managers to more quickly resolve fraud cases or deliver compliance reports.
Key Benefit: Mobility
Cases don't always happen in isolation, nor do they occur at the ideal moment. What if you're away from the office or a case spans multiple locations across several companies? Using case management allows you to access your case investigation database anytime, anywhere — rather than being confined to a single workstation. The result? Better outcomes informed by real-time access to critical case data.
Existing processes may allow your company to manage case data. The right case management tools, meanwhile, empower your business to organize, analyze and access this data on-demand, in turn driving improved case outcomes.
You can save your business time and money through automation of business processes. When you are handling investigations, there are three case management solutions that will give your business process increased efficiency and profitability:
- Workflow management
- Organization of the defined process
Using the correct technology, you can drive your case management in the right direction so you can consistently achieve reliable and repeatable standard outcomes in your investigations.
A good company will use your existing BPM investigative processes and capabilities to ensure your company's workflow is being managed effectively. The best systems can handle complex workflow processes as well as simple ones that use manual processes with repetitive natures. However, using automated tools will achieve the best results. The top companies to consult with on improving your BPM with accuracy will recommend, and sometimes provide, the automated tools you need to take your investigations to the next level.
Getting your investigative processes organized is the best way to begin handling BPM cases with precision. Your company should manage investigations using a workflow system that has one consolidated platform. This way, all of your data from the start of the investigation to the finish, are all in one place and easily located by employees of all levels. This will save a considerable amount of time.
Automated systems set up to follow chain-of-command processes based on variables that are leading the industry and give the best results. These systems provide time-based measures to ensure the investigation is completed within the designated timeframe, while processes between groups can increase data security and ensures all the steps in the investigative process are followed accurately. This produces stellar and reliable results.
Finally, top automated systems are able to assign tickets to employees on an automated basis using such criteria as priority, location and type. This means employee assignments are based on data, which ensures all of your human resources will be utilized in the most effective manner.
Duplicate data is eliminated in this scenario. Any duplicated data is easily seen when anyone in the company is using the system to search a record or to create one, and will be able to get rid of the duplicate information, which makes investigations much more efficient.
What’s more, employees of all levels of security clearance will be able to create their own reports in such a system, without having to wait for access from a manager or higher level employee. Reports can be created directly in the automated system and filed under the appropriate investigation case with ease — so there is never any incidence of the wrong report going with the wrong case.
This type of system of BPM investigative cases can be used in both private and public sector companies and agencies. The top ones are already adopting it. BPM investigations is a competitive field. It is important to give your company an edge with a high tech-automated workflow solution so it can succeed. Column Case Investigative can provide this solution for you.
What empowers case investigations? Clear, concise and current data that takes the form of accessible records easily leveraged by assigned staff members. As noted by Next Gov, however, many federal agencies struggle to meet these record-keeping goals: Just 15 percent of organizations surveyed said their records and information management (RIM) policy met agency needs, while only 28 percent said they had “the necessary tools and procedures in place.”
The result of sub-par records management? Evidentiary data becomes fragmented, duplicated and apparently unrelated to other necessary pieces of investigative information. While better policies can help eliminate large-scale management issues, addressing the role of effective evidence handling requires a new approach to investigation management software.
Change and Collaboration
According to eWeek, one key RIM challenge lies with the changing nature of technology. For many companies, the trend away from paper documentation to virtual recordkeeping introduces dual problems: alteration and ownership. When employees can leverage the cloud to easily download, copy or change documents, record managers are often forced to spend their time monitoring access and transport permissions to ensure that valuable evidence isn't mishandled. In addition, the use of public compute resources poses the issue of data ownership — are content creators or infrastructure providers the “real” owners of documents, images and other media? Ultimately, effective management depends on collaboration between record experts and IT staff to ensure critical case data is always protected.
Dealing With Duplicates
Even well-trained RIM staff and IT professionals struggle to meet evidence management demand, thanks to the continuing use of legacy or “archaic” software tools. Several common scenarios often occur in these companies. First are hard-working investigators starting new files but forget to search for any cross-referenced or related cases. The result? Duplicate data. Next are employees who execute multiple searches but return negative results thanks to weak data relationships or because data on the original file was entered incorrectly, leading to the creation of a second (or third or fourth) unnecessary case file.
What does the ideal investigation management software look like? Data standardization is critical — all case-related evidence must be entered and recorded in the same format for easy access and retrieval. It's also important to leverage tools that automatically “clean” data for poor entry values and create solid links between relevant pieces of evidence, helping investigators easily match old and new case files and increase solvability. In the long term, this kind of improved standardization and storage provides easy tracking and audit of files — critical if companies are subject to an audit, compliance review or legal challenge.
For companies looking to improve solve rates and reduce loss, two key areas must be addressed: First is the effective management of technology to ensure total control and visibility of existing evidence records. Next, organizations require investigation management software able to standardize file formats, clean existing data, and eliminate the time sink of duplicate records.
Any organization can be victimized by fraud. Consider the case of a Toronto-based orthotics store that recently defrauded insurance provider Manulife out of more than four million dollars using fake Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) insurance claims. Contrast this with the $127.4 billion in fraud U.S. federal organizations face each year from “improper payments” — a big enough problem that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has developed a new framework to help agencies minimize this risk.
Just as fraud can vary in scope and size, however, case management takes markedly different forms across business models, often hampering the progress of investigations as they move from one organization to another — what if it were possible to leverage a set of universal case management solutions and take aim at fraud sources rather than symptoms?
All frauds come with three component parts: Malicious actor, victim and stolen value. In some cases this value is money, in others identity, brand reputation or insurance benefits are at risk. In Toronto, a group of three malicious actors created a string of false insurance receipts, while in the United States millions of fraudsters have managed to claim un-owed payouts.
Once these frauds are identified, however, the need to manage large data sets, handle evidence and comply with local records-keeping requirements significantly changes investigation methods and outcomes — resulting in case files which are difficult if not impossible to share with relevant agencies. For example, if Toronto police had information suggesting a similar fraud took place in another city, swapping case data throughout municipal lines quickly becomes problematic.
The good news? Managing widespread investigations for multiple business models is possible with the right fraud management software. By leveraging a solution that automatically handles all intake documentation, journaling and evidence management, and can effectively associate disparate data using advanced visualization techniques, it's possible to create a logically segmented case that meets all compliance standards and can be effectively shared across organizational boundaries.
Of course, documenting frauds and solving cases don't always go hand in hand. Fraud investigation software must address this issue by providing a means to organize and prioritize the most “solvable” cases first, allowing agencies to focus their efforts on high-solvability cases with the greatest organizational impact or public recognition.
As fraud efforts diversify and malicious actors take aim at everything from insurance benefits to government payments, companies need improved case management software that not only automates critical processes but helps manage investigations across multiple business models.
Poor, inadequate case filing systems create high rates of errors, room for lost data, and make it challenging or impossible to cross-reference similar cases or suspects. Law enforcement agencies need to embrace technology and software to manage and conduct criminal investigations in a more effective and efficient manner.
A perfect example of proactive technology adoption is the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation (NOPJF), which was facing operational challenges and sought out a new case management solution to help solve their problems. Melanie Talia, CEO of the NOPJF, and Dr. Michael Geerken, advisor and consultant for the NOPJF, met with Column to share their experience with fulfilling their organization’s need for a new case management system.
The New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the people and processes of the criminal justice system in New Orleans, Louisiana. According to Melanie Talia, three goals have defined the NOPJF’s strategic vision of “restoring faith in the Orleans Parish Justice System” since Hurricane Katrina: retain and restore human capital, rebuild and restore critical infrastructure, and improve operational effectiveness and efficiency. In order to act according to this vision and solve a variety of challenges, the NOPJF began the search for a criminal case management system.
Prior to Hurricane Katrina, the NOPJF did not have a single case management system, but rather every district and division had its own homegrown system. Melanie Talia explained, “Without a central location for an officer in one district to know what an officer in another district is doing, an officer might come in for a report on an armed robbery in District 1 not knowing that District 8 was also working an armed robbery involving the same perpetrator.” Dr. Geerken added that another challenge was getting police reports from various departments to the District Attorney’s (DA) office. The NOPJF’s case management system would need to work well with the DA’s screening case management system. The integration of the two systems would allow for the flow of more information and the development of statistics for individual officers. “In cases when we see an officer who has a high percentage of fully processed cases versus another officer whose cases get dropped half the time, we know that something is wrong there and can fix the problem,” said Dr. Geerken. Once the NOPJF identified its biggest short-term goal was moving everybody to one, consolidated system, the next step was finding a vendor to help them do so.
When it came to looking for a vendor, Dr. Geerken explained, “One of our criteria was that the system had to be an existent web-based, off-the-shelf system and that the vendor would be willing to make any improvements or configurations…we also wanted a system that had been in use someplace else, had gotten good reviews, and had all the features that aligned with what we needed.” They were interested in an adaptable solution that had been successfully implemented for many other organizations, and found that with Column Case Investigative. Dr. Geerken also offered his advice to other agencies looking for a case management system. He stressed the importance of carefully looking at what is available and what others are using. Additionally, he pointed out that people don’t know what they really want until they know what they can have. Column helped the NOPJF realize new possibilities which led to the organization asking for subsequent enhancements later on. Furthermore, it is important not to overlook project management and implementation once your organization finds the right product. Dr. Geerken added, “I’ve been very impressed with Column’s ability to move things along, identify people’s roles and identify time lines – it’s the best I’ve seen frankly.”
Little or no visibility into workloads, incident management, and case handling exists in organizations charged with the responsibility to conduct investigations. The NOPJF recognized that in order to protect the integrity and effectiveness of the organization, a new, consolidated case management system was needed. That’s where Column came in. Column Case Investigative is a collaborative, integrated, web-based solution that helps organizations like the NOPJF securely log, store, and share information and records through a centralized system that is accessible from any district.
About the Interviewees
Melanie A. Talia is the Chief Executive Officer of the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation. She directs the foundation in its ongoing role as a principal fiduciary agent, negotiator and advisor to all members of the criminal justice system in Orleans Parish.
Dr. Michael Geerken serves as an advisor and consultant to the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation. His extensive background in police and judicial technologies ensure that technology facilitates the criminal justice reform.
These days, it seems like everybody is talking about “the cloud” and how to leverage it to their advantage, and that’s no less true of businesses than it is of individuals. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2017, the public cloud services market will exceed $244 billion.1 Cloud computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions are being deployed by many different businesses to manage their critical processes.
Growth of SaaS Use in Case Management
Corporations in general are increasingly adopting case management related technologies, while case management adoption of SaaS has been growing as well in recent years. While on-premise, licensed software is still technically the dominant deployment method for various case management solutions, many companies are shifting to SaaS solutions when it comes time to upgrade their current on-site systems.
Competitive Advantages of SaaS Solutions in Case Management
While the reduction of costs is still the most common reason to deploy a SaaS solution, competitive advantage is actually the most common result thereof. So, let’s look at how SaaS technology can be leveraged to your advantage.
The self-service functions of SaaS solutions improve both the efficiency and accuracy of processing employee service requests. Utilizing SaaS for self-service empowers employees to review, modify and act on requests and inquiries on their own timetable even if they are away from the office.
Faster Time to Market and Increased Agility
SaaS solutions provide rapid deployment that can drastically reduce the time, money and effort spent on implementing a new system. Additionally, SaaS systems are easily scalable, making them the perfect solution for a growing or changing business. Your systems can grow and change with your organization without added upfront cost. As your needs change, your SaaS system can change with an agility not present in on-premise solutions. The additional compatibility and ease of which SaaS systems offer provide benefits that on-premise solutions simply can’t match.
The world is getting smaller, and being able to do business on a nationwide or worldwide scale can be critical to success. In order to do so, however, you need the ability to collaborate across vast distances. If you have one person in New York and one person in London who need access to the same information in order to collaborate on projects or decisions, SaaS solutions can provide that access simply and easily.
Leverage Analytics for Informed Decisions
Many SaaS solutions offer analytics that can be leveraged to improve your decision making ability. These systems provide you with large quantities of data that can be used to gain insights into your organization. As you glean these insights from the analytics, you are empowered to make better, more informed decisions.
Cloud computing and Software as a Service are not only a big part of the future, but they are a big part of today’s business reality as well.
With the right case management solution, you can improve your company’s processes and help organize information. Case management solutions are available to help standardize and automate many of the key processes to your organization that are critical to success. Nevertheless, every organization is different and finding the solution that best aligns with your business model cannot be understated. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you find your perfect case management solution.
1. Assess Your Needs
You’ll never find the right case management software if you don’t know what features your company needs. As you look at your organization’s needs, focus on what features would benefit your company now and what features you may wish to add as your organization grows. Case management is a very broad term, and it’s important that you as an organization narrow it down to focus on what your need the most. . First you must determine the most important aspect of case management work for your organization, whether it be content-driven, event-driven or anything in between. Take time to consider your organization’s needs before searching the marketplace. Case management solutions can positively impact a multitude of vertical markets, from investigation and fraud, to business process management and financial shared services, so it’s important to find what will work best for you.
2. Do Your Research
Once you have established what features your company needs in your case management software, you can start doing research. At this stage, you can do broad research on a wide variety of companies. Find out what features they offer and how much their system costs. You don’t have to delve deep at this point; you just need to learn the basics of each company’s system and pricing model. Most of this initial research can be completed relatively quickly by placing a phone call to each company.
3. Narrow the Field
With your initial research complete, it’s time to start narrowing the field. It’s possible that you can now eliminate several of the case management systems you looked at based solely on features and/or price. However, you will want to further reduce the number of software solutions you’re looking at. Having more than three or four final contenders can overwhelm the people who will be helping you make the final decision. Focus on the companies that offer the services you need at a reasonable price and have a good reputation in the industry.
4. Perform Deeper Research
Once you have your list of final contenders, it’s time to do more research. This is when you start to look below the surface. Some of the research you’ll want to complete includes:
- Getting and checking references
- Ascertaining how their case management software works
- Requesting a product demonstration
- Differentiating between standard functions and add-ons
- Asking any other questions you have
5. Make a Selection
Armed with all of the information you’ve gathered throughout your selection process, it’s time to make your final decision. Choosing a case management system can be an arduous process, but the benefits will be worth it. If you’d like to learn more about our solutions, contact Column Case Management today!