If you’ve got an experienced fraud investigator or forensic accountant at the helm of your investigation, you should have little to worry about. Good management of the investigation involves ensuring the integrity of documentation and properly supervising staff and consultants.
Good document management procedures are critical, when a case is document-intensive. Properly organizing the documents from the start of the fraud investigation is important so that team members don’t have to search endlessly for documents.
Often a chronological organization of documents is easiest, and documents may also be divided by suspect, witness, or transaction. So for example, a fraud involving an employee and three outside vendors may be best organized by vendor, and then within each vendor’s set of documents, the documents are sorted by date.
It’s helpful to have a system to track documents. This could be something as simple as an easy spreadsheet or database. It could be as complicated as a professional document management software designed for fraud investigators. Obviously, the sophistication will depend on the size and complexity of the case.
There are two main purposes for tracking documents: The investigator may need to quickly locate a specific document, and that is facility by your tracking system. Also, if someone asks the investigator if she or he has examined a particular document, the tracking system should be able to help determine that quickly.
One tip for fraud investigators is maintaining a “key document file” for easy access to the most important documents. For example, a closing statement in an important real estate transaction may need to be referenced quickly or frequently. The original document can be kept in the appropriate box or file, but a copy is made and kept in a key document file for easy reference.
Staff and consultant supervision is critical to an effective fraud investigation. This might be as simple as knowing what duties have been assigned to a person and what their results are. It could be as complex as the ongoing supervision of a less experienced staff person.