Managing Director, FTI Consulting
The world is changing quickly. Corporations have spent the last two years chasing technological advancement within their organizations as well as the global business ecosystem. Projects stalled when business travel shut down and teams lost the ability to shift resources where they were needed most. Workflows that were typically handled in person were recreated in virtual settings. And even before the pandemic, the rate of digitalization was picking up speed, ultimately hurtling toward a tipping point when core operations were largely shifted to remote environments.
One area where our digital forensics and investigations teams have seen significant disruption is in the execution of remote global audits, regulatory inquiries and internal investigations. Field work that was typically conducted in person—such as custodian interviews, data collections and preservation of devices in question—were replaced by remote workflows, some of which were completely novel to the teams using them. As our teams worked through these new challenges with clients and helped them stand up remote investigations, we encountered a vast spectrum of digital maturity within various organizations.
Through this work, it became clear that the more sophisticated an organization was in its journey toward digitalization, the more it was able to achieve savings in the time, costs and resources needed to conduct a remote investigation. Conversely, organizations with a low degree of maturity in their digitalization efforts faced significantly more work and time to establish remote processes and discover the key facts in their matters. In short, an organization’s digital sophistication proved to be directly tied to how effectively their remote investigations could be carried out.
As organizations prepare for long-term, ongoing remote work, coupled with an anticipated wave of increased regulatory, audit and investigations activity, it’s important to continue making adjustments to existing processes and digital transformation roadmaps. This will include assessing digital maturity and examining where digital transformation efforts can be accelerated to better support critical remote workflows for audits and investigations. In parallel, legal and compliance teams will need to evaluate their audit and investigations processes to determine how they can continue to leverage advanced technology in remote workflows, and which processes will be better suited for traditional, in-person approaches.
Establishing new approaches and improving upon existing ones should start with a base understanding of the current environment, particularly with regard to the organization’s digital maturity. This can be assessed through a set of over-arching criteria that help define key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs and intermediate goals can be set and checked, with a strong focus on maintaining and meeting benchmarks that are measurable, actionable, achievable and trendsetting. Evaluation criteria and assessments should be tailored to meet the organization’s ecosystem, but generally encompass:
In Part 2 of this series, I’ll discuss how teams can balance investigations and audits between remote and onsite environments.