Auto text and case reports

Wouldn’t it be outstanding if once you typed something, it was remembered and could be used again and again. It can with Polonious.

When first meeting with customers we are almost always taken aback by how many times the same information is re typed in different locations. We recently worked with a firm that recorded case intake data in more than five spreadsheets, at intake. They were somewhat ahead of the curve compared to other companies who had as many if not more but created them in an ad hoc manner during the course of the investigation.

We admired several things about this organization immediately;

1. They knew they needed and therefore used five spreadsheets. Many companies have no idea how many sub systems are in use to manage the day to day.
2. They started the process immediately ensuring the best possible data in later reports.
They had rigor, a process and methodology they followed.

Some companies complete their statistics or reporting spreadsheets long after completion of the case for annual or monthly reports. This takes hours of sifting through many data sources to get their data together.

The savings by replacing all these spreadsheets and other systems with one central data source are obvious and well covered on many blogs and posts, just search for ‘Herding Spreadsheets’. It does not end there.

With a little more thought you realize that we also retype this exact data in correspondence, emails and case reports. Reusing your data for all these tasks and avoiding retyping it again and again is the focus of this blog.

Polonious makes your case data available for insertion directly into word documents, .pdfs, open office documents, updates and emails.

If you are wondering is this worth the effort, let me give you a few reasons why it is;

If you just stick with good old email for all your correspondence you immediately have a disconnect between your case file and your correspondence. That means in the future if there is a need to review the file you need to trawl through all the email accounts that may have communicated in relation to the case. Yes you could CC your case directly form your email but you need to know your case number and that gets tricky when you have so many. With Polonious not only can you email directly from your cases but you can insert case data into those emails.
You need to find and attach any documents etc. which will lead to storing documents on your desktop, sooner or later. Not easy for tracking who did what with them and I won’t comment on the security issues here, you know them.

Once any data is outside the system it is outside the reach of third party intelligence tools you may be using.

The case references (case number, claim number etc), people, organizations and assets referred to are correct and spelt correctly.


1. It saves time.

This is more significant than you might expect. Take some time now and save yourself an ever increasing amount of time in the future. Take a simple ‘Instruction’ letter for example. If you insert text and case data there is really no need to type anything. Say 1 to 2 minutes saved. Simply multiply this by every job you do and you get your weekly, monthly and annual savings in minutes. Work out your payroll rate and see the $ that are on the table.

If you save time, it means people can do more productive things than retype the same information over again and again.

The first steps are to gather your reports and correspondence together and review how much of it is repetitive and what key elements can you automatically insert.

2. It automates Case reports.

Almost every case requires a report to be generated. How much of this can be automated?

It depends, on you. Some people prefer that it is only the opening pages, and the rest of the report requires the specialist to comment in the word processor of your choice. For others, Polonious has fully automated the capture of all the data required for the generation of the case reports, so the report is generated with a single click.

I will use a typical surveillance report as an example of what can be automated and cover some secondary benefits realised along the way.

As you know we use the SAM method (Situation, Action, Metrics) approach at Polonious, if you need a better idea of what that is see my blog here.

For this discussion I am more concerned with the actions and metrics as this is where we collect the activities of the investigators and metrics of what they have done.

Lets say our generic surveillance report includes;
* An introduction with headers etc.
* A summary of video activity.
* A summary of daily activity.
* Details of daily activity.

To automate collection of data for that report we need to collect the case data up front, via manual entry or perhaps automate this with direct web service interactions with claims systems or a web form your clients can complete. Define some actions for the investigators that collect the narrative and metrics you need. In this case lets say we create;
1. An action for daily updates ‘Daily Surveillance Update’ and we include a second text area for ‘Video Activity’ and of course we’ll also define the metrics we want for example; time, travel time, mileage, expenses, minutes of video. We want that done every day so we are all in the loop with the investigations progress
2. An action for ‘Surveillance Details’ that chronicles in detail the actions with the usual time comments you expect in a surveillance report and this needs to be completed prior to reporting.

That is simple enough, now we look at how it works and where the benefits are.

At the top level the case data can be used in the introduction and headers area where you will address the report, repeat your instructions, details of days worked and investigators etc.

Next we insert a section for ‘Video Obtained’ to tell the client what video we have. We can also insert video minutes here, days worked and other metrics we collect. As there may be several days of surveillance there will be several entries we need to display so we simply loop them.

Then insert the narrative of the update into the report under a section called ‘Summary of Activities’ or similar.

We may also consider showing any images that were attached to those updates below the updates or under first section ‘Video Obtained’

Lastly we insert the narrative of the ‘Surveillance Details’ updates and loop them so they appear in chronological order.

Voila! We have a completed surveillance report and there is no need to cut and past all those updates from emails etc. All the updates, metrics and images are all in one place.

Many of you now say ‘I can’t use specialists’ updates in reports, what about spelling and grammar etc.’

Easy, lets add a proofing loop so that case managers proof the daily updates and correct any errors. At the same time they can confirm the metrics for invoicing and payroll and we have saved even more time completing time sheets and payroll reports. This also gives everyone that is collaborating a real time view of effort and expenditure v’s budget.

In addition once the updates are correct you can automatically insert them into email you want to send to other interested parties and attach those images in the emails. Saving more time copying and pasting into emails and keeping the evidence consistent.

The benefits are;
✓ Time saving on report writing, emails and updates.
✓ One correct version of what occurred.
✓ Accuracy and time savings on invoicing.
✓ Accuracy and time saving on payroll.
✓ Realtime view of costs v’s budgets.

We think the benefits are worth it.

Yes it does take effort to think about what you can do and rigor to design, implement and train others to follow the methodology. These are short term costs for long term returns.

We have the pleasure of working with many investigation firms, insurance investigation units, assessors, universities, financial service providers and other organizations on a regular basis and consider this as the most rewarding part of what we do. In particular the initial meetings where we discuss the business process and methodologies that they use to achieve their goals. This is often a journey of discovery not just for us but for our clients as well.

If your organization is not reaching its full potential because of operational inefficiencies or bottlenecks contact Polonious and see how we can help you.

Last updated: November 19th, 2014