The importance of the investigative report

Having worked in the risk mitigation industry for over a decade for various companies, I’ve seen my share of investigative reports. In performing quality control that involves reviewing investigative reports, I can safely say that the quality of these reports can range from stellar to…….well, horrible.

Regardless of the type of investigation, the final report that your investigative vendor presents at the conclusion of an assignment is a direct reflection of the quality of the work they performed for you.

Was the report well written, with proper grammar and punctuation or did it contain numerous misspelled words and poor grammar?  Did the report contain all necessary information or did you have to contact your investigative vendor with additional questions?  Was the report accurate or was it riddled with factual errors?

report-writing copy

If you can’t rely on an investigative firm to consistently provide you with professional reports, then there are likely other areas where they are also falling short. For example, if you receive a poorly written recorded statement report that reads like it was written by a third grader, you have to wonder how the investigator presented himself (or herself) when taking the statement on behalf of your company. Did he/she dress professionally or did they show up in a t-shirt and jeans?  Did the investigator have a professional demeanor or did they poorly misrepresent themselves, and in turn their client? You may never know the answers to these questions, but a well-crafted report would likely go a long way toward easing such concerns.

Certainly, if your vendor is consistently getting great video for you on surveillance assignments, you may be inclined to overlook a typo or a grammatical error here and there. After all, you’re hiring an investigator, not a professional writer. However, the report is a very important element of an investigation and needs to hold up to possible scrutiny from opposing counsel.  A report containing numerous mistakes or factual errors will certainly get picked apart and could possibly affect the outcome of a legal proceeding.

The bottom line is this: your vendors should be consistently providing you with high quality investigative reports that contain plenty of details and are free of factual errors. Of course, everyone makes mistakes from time to time; however, if you’re frequently seeing work products that are riddled with errors and missing key pieces of information, chances are that your vendor is lackadaisical in other ways as well. As such, you may wish the reexamine your relationship with them and consider finding a risk mitigation partner that can better meet (or exceed) your expectations.