5 Things All Private Investigators Should Know About Case Management Systems

The PI Direct Link team attends Private Investigator conferences across the country. In talking with PI’s, one of the questions asked quite often was “How do I choose a case management system?” The simple answer is to try the system out. Any system worth paying for will offer a free trial period. Use the tips below to help choose a system that is right for you and your company.

1) Mobile capabilities
One of the main benefits of a case management system is having access to your case information, photos, video, report, etc. Being able to access the information anywhere at anytime on a wide variety of devices is crucial. As we all know, it is convenient to look something up on your phone or tablet without having to drag out a laptop. Having desktop based software only allows access to investigative information when seated in front a particular computer. What happens when you are in the field or at the courthouse? Look for something that is web based and can be accessed from any computer as well as your mobile devices.

2) The Cloud
Don’t be afraid of the cloud. It is the current business model of most technology based businesses, including technologically sound case management systems for investigators. Popular software products such as Microsoft 365 and Quickbooks are moving to cloud based platforms. Anyone who uses online banking systems are utilizing cloud platforms. Online shopping retailers, email programs such as Gmail and Yahoo mail are examples of cloud computing. Online backup software such as Carbonite operate in the cloud. The cloud should be viewed as a positive. If a case management system does not operate in the cloud and is desktop based, you need to ask how old the system is. Any system worth the cost should have a cloud component.

3) Affordability
Cost is an important factor for any investigator. Look for flat rate pricing. If there are a lot of “items” listed in the pricing plan or the plan is long and complicated, buyer beware. Take into consideration the restrictions. A price can be listed at $99 per month, but additional costs can be incurred if you create too many cases, have more than 1 person logged into the system, upload a large file, create an additional report template. A $59 monthly fee can turn into well above $100. Nobody is a fan of “fees”. When you see setup fees, one-time fees, case fees, be sure you are aware of how the final price could elevate quickly.

4) Features and Tools
Good systems will save you time and in turn save you money. Investigators want to be able to save a least an hour a week on administrative tasks so the system essentially pays for itself. Business owners should want to and will receive a return on any investment. Look for items that make the job easier, save time, and cut down on time spent on reports, billing, searching for information, updating the client, and keeping up with cases and assignments.

5) Customization and Personalization
Having your own subdomain is important for personalization to your company as well as for security reasons. For example, if your login page is at XYZDetective.casesystem.com, that is a unique address for you and your users. You can place that link on your website, email signature, business card, etc. Customization is important for many reasons. The main one being one PI’s business is entirely different than the next. One may focus on domestic investigations. Another investigator may do criminal defense work. What if you are doing insurance investigations and want to decide to market and pursue legal or domestic investigations? Look for systems that allow for customization to meet the needs if your business evolves or changes in the future.

Try a case management system free for 30 day.  Visit www.pidirectlink.com

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Improving the PI Company Through Technology

It is known by various names, Case Management Systems, Case Management Software, CMS, Investigation Management Software, PI Software, and the list goes on.  All of these typically refer to technology solutions that help private investigators manage case data and assist with various other administrative duties, such as assigning and scheduling cases, expenses and invoicing and writing and storing reports.  Most systems also give you the convenience of having case information in one location complete with storage for photos, videos, audio and other important evidence.

Case management software for private investigators is nothing new.  There are systems on the market to fit the needs of any size investigative firm.  That includes one man show that is the backbone of the investigative industry.  Sole practitioners make up the majority of the private investigative industry in most states.

What private investigators may not realize is how much a case management system can improve a business, improve a company’s image, and contribute to the immediate and long term success of a private investigation firm.  This is especially true for smaller firms that are competing with larger companies in their area and those that compete with nationwide companies.

Traveling across the country and attending PI conferences is one of the ways our team helps spread the word about PI Direct Link.  At our conference exhibits and speaking engagements we provide valuable information to the industry on the benefits of case management software.  We learn a good bit about the habits of private investigators and what makes them tick.  We also learn how their businesses operate, what headaches they deal with, what they like and what they dislike.

PI’s are comfortable with the investigative tasks involved in a case.  The administrative and business related tasks and the business side can be daunting.  Now why is that?  Well, those tasks are time consuming and with some exceptions, unbillable.   Sitting behind a desk and doing paperwork is tedious.  Filling out, creating forms, or composing client emails is a necessary evil.  Acknowledging case receipt and shuffling manila file folders can be time consuming.

What causes such a reluctance to implement a turnkey solution that would immediately improve a business or process?  One of the most common phrases heard is “I have been doing it this way for (insert number of years here) and it works just fine.”   The “old school” way is not necessarily the right way.  Just because someone has been performing tasks a certain way for 10 years, does not make it the right way.   Investigators used 8mm Hi8 cameras in 1999, by the logic above every investigator should still be using them now.

Some investigators do not have enough cases to support their business, yet refuse to change habits, business operations, or invest in the business by upgrading technology.  In the coming year investigators should take an opportunity to look and see how case management software can help themselves and their businesses.

This is the first part of a 3 part series of blogs dealing with Private Investigators, Marketing, and Case Management software.  Stay tuned for more!  Contact us anytime at help@pidirectlink.com.  For more information on PI Direct Link, visit www.pidirectlink.com.