“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”  ― Yogi Berra



Imagine an experienced airline pilot not having a flight plan because she has flown the route countless times.

Imagine beginning any home improvement project without even a basic project plan. 

Imagine having an attorney represent you in court who shows up for the case without having mapped out a strategy.


Without a plan each of these scenarios can end in disaster.

There is a lot of debate among experienced investigators whether or not an investigative plan (IP) is necessary. One side of the argument is that when you are experienced you don’t need to map out the investigation in writing. The other side of the argument is that you are better prepared and can complete a quality investigation quickly with a plan of how you will attack the investigation.

We fall on the side of believing an IP is necessary. Here’s why…

It’s rare that any of us have the luxury to be working on one thing at a time. If you are working on multiple investigations or other projects, it is incredibly efficient and effective to have an outline of how you handle the investigation(s) on your plate.

Even the simplest of cases can become complicated with the addition of an amendment. Having an IP in place just means adding the additional claims and corresponding interview questions.

In our last post, we discussed interviewing techniques. You can only implement those techniques if you have planned for the interview. We’ve been interviewed by investigators who have clearly not prepared their questions. It never goes well, and their lack of preparation is obvious.

The plan doesn’t need to be elaborate, just an outline of what evidence (testimony and documents); and the source of that evidence.

With a plan in place, you can go back to it –exactly where you left off – when you get additional assignments or events overtake your schedule. Without it, you have to waste time doing a lot of rework.

Most importantly, the development and use of a plan is a mark of professionalism. All of us in the EEO field have struggled from time-to-time to be viewed as a value-added, professional program. Some struggle more than others with this. Because there is no set certification requirement, other than basic and annual training for counselors and investigators, we have to do things that demonstrate professionalism in all things. (More on this topic of certification and professionalism in a future post.) A plan is one way other professions use to prepare for an assignment/case/project.   There is no reason for us to not hold ourselves to the same standard.

Top 5 Benefits of an IP:

  1. Makes you more efficient in preparing for the next investigation involving similar claims/basis.
  1. Reduces potential for remands for supplemental investigations.
  1. Likely to go through the review process quicker and if you are a contract investigator, you’re able to invoice that much quicker!
  1. Enables you to stop reinventing the wheel with each investigation.
  1. You will be viewed as a consummate professional by your customers and those you interview (trust us on this one).

Let us know what you think. Which side of the discussion are you on?


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2 thoughts on “Investigator Tricks of the Trade, Part 2: Preparing to Investigate

  1. Excellent tips. A well developed plan shows you are prepared and organized. Also you have good time management skills. Less time wasted in achieving outcomes.

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