When Ohio-based Corporate Management Group (CMG) decided to revolutionize the estimated $5 billion corporate private investigation industry, it turned to IBM Business Partner Sysinct Inc. (http://www.sysinct.com). Using Domino� R5 on Windows NT� with browser and Lotus Notes� client access, Sysinct developed PI-Track (http://www.PI-Track.com), the first and only independent Web-based corporate investigations case management system.
“Our strategy was to change the way an industry processed, tracked and managed investigative assignments,” said Brad Myers, president and chief executive officer, CMG. “In order to do this we had to develop an operating system that could handle the processing and tracking of investigative projects in a much different way than it was done in the past.”
Built on 11 Domino� databases, PI-Track enables a corporate human resources organization to obtain private investigation services anywhere in the country and track the entire process through the Web. Using PI-Track, corporate clients can rely on a single system to initiate and manage multiple investigations simultaneously around the country using independent private investigators who participate in the PI-Track network. In addition, clients pay no more for using the Web service than contracting directly with investigators.
Streamlining the Process
To address issues such as Workers’ Compensation fraud and other types of internal fraud, large corporations may find a need to retain private investigators in different parts of the country, sometimes simultaneously managing a number of different investigative firms that may have widely varying billing and reporting systems. Finding a reputable investigator in an unfamiliar area can take time, and managing multiple investigation vendor relationships can strain corporate HR resources.
Myers said CMG recognized it could not change the way an entire industry operated.
“But we believed that we could develop an application that would allow one client at a time to change the way they did business by requiring investigators working for companies running our software to do business their way instead of the other way around,” Myers explained.
The Web site enables CMG to set up detailed standard case profiles and pricing for specific case types, such as drugs in the workplace or workers’ compensation fraud. The client enters a case via the Web and the system uses the zip code of the subject to assign an investigator to the case.
From that point forward, the client relies on the self-service Web site to track the case. The investigator enters time and activities, and clients access the reports and invoices via the Web site. A secure communication log provides seamless information sharing on a case-by-case basis. CMG’s internal Special Investigations Unit handles any non-Web issues on behalf of the client, such as ensuring deadlines are met.
PI-Track has achieved an 80-percent success rate in recruiting targeted investigators to participate in the network. While investigators are asked to modify their standard business operations and pricing to participate in the program, they are provided access to a potentially higher case volume, potentially reducing their costs for marketing, invoicing and reporting. Investigators are retained in the program based on the quality of their work.
The Right Solution
Sysinct built the system from scratch to CMG’s specifications, providing additional functionality where possible and designing the Web site itself, including the graphic look and feel and marketing concept. “We recommended Domino because it is easy to Web-enable,” said Steve van Vliet, the managing consultant for Sysinct. “It has a great deal of workflow, and with the databases and e-mail pieces that were part of this project, it was perfect for Domino.”
The system was in beta testing for about nine months, and clients were provided access via the Web in December 2000. “There is absolutely no doubt that the solution is performing up to our standards and what we envisioned. The system provides the desired functions, and then some,” Myers said.
CMG chose Sysinct from a range of services companies, including very large well-known technology companies, based on Sysinct’s willingness to work closely with CMG.
“Sysinct sold us on their partnership both short term and long term, along with their ability to build a quality application,” Myers said. “We knew we could rely on Sysinct for other services, and that the pricing along with service would be strong. Sysinct maintained a very strong partnership and this relationship continues today.”
Return on Investment
Myers said the site has attracted the interest of a number of client companies interested in simplifying their private investigations processes. “We have signed contracts and others are pending. The application is responsible for a 60-percent gross margin and is soon to be released as a stand-alone operating system,” he said.
Working in partnership with Sysinct, CMG plans to license the PI-Track software to large third-party administrators who at any given time are managing a number of private investigations in several geographic areas. These would include insurance companies or self-insured companies. The licensing company would then host the software and control any revenue generated through its use. Clients not needing to purchase the software can continue to access it through the PI-Track Web site.
“The main feature that sold us on IBM and Lotus technology was the fact that we could build our application inside of — alongside of — the Lotus Notes software,” Myers added. “Considering that Notes also is the e-mail and calendar software of choice for corporate America, that was right where we wanted to be.”