For those of you who are contract investigators, time is money. For agency investigators, the ability to complete more investigations may result in a higher performance rating or awards. We’ve compiled this list of time-savers that can save days off of your investigative timeline to make it a faster and/or bigger payday while enhancing quality.
- We’ve posted about the value of an investigative plan before, but the value cannot be underestimated. The more you plan your investigation, the more you are able to grasp the complexity, number of witnesses, and need for documentation. Although many investigators argue that planning adds time to the process, in our experience, the planning step actually saves time in the end. There are plenty of things that popup during an investigation, but those who plan are able to address those unanticipated things more effectively.
- Review Administrative File. This is also part of the planning process, but some overlook the importance of reading everything included in the administrative file. Specifically, a thorough review of the EEO Counselor’s Report and any documentation submitted by the complainant is critical in ensuring your questions are thorough. We’ve seen too many investigators miss things that were in the administrative file causing additional work and delays on the back end.
- Send Document Request Early. Waiting until the last minute to request documents almost always ends in a late report. You must build in plenty of time to request all documentation needed for the investigation. This should be explicitly addressed in the planning stage, but in some cases, the investigator identifies the documents in an investigative plan (IP) but does not send the request for documents to anyone. Some documents will require additional follow-up with witnesses, so the earlier you have those documents, the better.
- Contact Witnesses Early and Often. Most investigators know the challenge of chasing down witnesses to either schedule the interview or return an affidavit. The more communication you have with them early in the process, the better your chances are in securing their cooperation. Talk to them early on and explain what you will need from them (either a date to interview them or for them to complete a written affidavit). The earlier you have that communication, the better. Similarly, make contact with them while you waiting for them to return their affidavits. A friendly reminder or email asking if they have any questions is a good way to keep it on their radar.
- Don’t Slow Down While Waiting on Amendment. Most investigators have encountered the situation of being told by the complainant that s/he is going to amend the complaint. The investigator, believing they will be given more time, puts the investigation on the back burner awaiting word on the amendment. The suspense date approaches with no word of the amendment causing the investigator to frantically pull the report of investigation together in order to meet the deadline. Always proceed with the investigation – including finalizing it – even when the complainant tells you an amendment is coming.
In our next post we’ll share 5 more time saving ideas for efficient investigation. We’d love to hear from those of you who are investigators or reviewers! If you need your 2015 refresher training or 32-hour EEO investigator certification training, check out our online training.