When an investigation is required within your company, do you do it internally or hire an outside firm to conduct an external investigation? Which is the better option depends on a number of factors and the specific people and activities being investigated.
You need to look at factors like how much money and resources your company has to devote to a thorough investigation, how soon it needs to be completed, whether an internal team can be objective and how much confidential information is involved.
When can an internal investigation be the better option?
If an investigation would involve just talking to a few people about a limited amount of suspected wrongdoing, it may be more cost-effective to do it internally. However, it’s crucial to determine whether you and whoever conducts the investigation can be objective. If there’s any illegal activity, for example, you have to be willing to notify the appropriate authorities.
An internal investigation is less likely to be made public. However, if it becomes public anyway, many people will see it as window dressing over a real problem. Internal investigations are widely distrusted as being further cover-ups of illegal and/or unethical activity.
When should you opt for an external investigation?
If you want to show your employees, customers and others that you are committed to being objective and rooting out any problems, you need to bring in external investigators with a solid reputation. Besides not having personal connections to any of the employees they are questioning or investigating, they can also contribute investigative skills that no one in your company can match.
If you’re going to require a long, comprehensive investigation (and you may not realize this until you’ve gotten into an internal investigation), it’s typically best to hire outside investigators who can devote the necessary time and resources, even though it will cost you more money.
Which route you choose to go will be up to you and other decision-makers in your company. Either is better than having state and federal authorities come in and investigate. You want to get to the source of the problem and make the necessary changes before it reaches that point. It’s crucial to have sound legal guidance from the very beginning.