This is the fourth post in our blog series, “Lifting the Burden” for due diligence analysts. Throughout this series, we have explored how the process of information gathering can be so uncertain, inefficient and time-consuming that the due diligence analyst is left with few resources to devote to actual analysis. Previous posts described the challenges of determining what information is available and managing the subcontractors that have been tasked with getting the information. In this post, we focus on the challenge of finding the right subcontractors for the work, asking the question, “Who can find the information?”
Finding the right subcontractors for information collection is the paramount challenge on many due diligence projects. Most due diligence analysts know people who can gather information in some jurisdictions, and colleagues will have contacts in still more jurisdictions. But almost no organisation has contacts everywhere. So when reviewing an RFP, the due diligence analyst may cross her fingers, hoping the client asks for information available in locations where she knows subcontractors she can rely on.
But even if the analyst has a subcontractor in the relevant jurisdiction, is it the right subcontractor? Somebody who performs well on one type of task may not be appropriate for other tasks. Basic tasks like document retrieval, site photos or translations can often be done efficiently by junior-level researchers or recent college graduates. An asset trace assignment likely requires someone with at least a few years of investigative experience. Complicated legal questions will require a lawyer, and an in-depth human intelligence gathering assignment will require a senior investigator. One subcontractor team is unlikely to have all these people. The lawyer who handles complicated legal questions may also be willing to retrieve documents, but he will charge a high rate for this relatively simple task. On the other hand, a junior researcher may offer assurances that he can handle a complicated human source enquiry assignment – but can he really? Despite these issues – whether for reasons of loyalty, familiarity or simplicity – there is a strong tendency to rely on one subcontractor for every task in a given jurisdiction, even when other teams would do better.
A large due diligence advisory firm may have more options for subcontractors, but no organisation has a comprehensive group of contacts in every corner of the world. And large firms present their own challenges. A company may maintain a database of previously-used contractors, but that data gets old quickly and much of it may be stale; the analysts who inputted the source data may be gone, so there is nobody to follow-up with. Sometimes the analyst resorts to blasting a company-wide email, asking “Does anyone know a subcontractor for work in such-and-such country?” Even then, the longstanding secrecy culture of the due diligence industry can be an obstacle to sharing this knowledge.
So the analyst must spend precious time and resources finding subcontractors. But she may not have time to thoroughly vet them, so she cannot be confident that they share her values and ethics. And she will not have first-hand experience with them to confirm their competence. And even in jurisdictions where the analyst has an existing relationship, what happens if her go-to investigator is on holiday? He may have a backup, but they could come with the same concerns about ethics and competence.
Lifting the burden with Ground Truth Intelligence
Up to this point, this blog series has focused on describing the challenges that analysts must tackle during the information-gathering phase of a due diligence project. It’s a daunting list of issues, and every due diligence analyst has faced them. But don’t worry, help is now at hand.
Ground Truth Intelligence was founded to change the status quo in due diligence and investigations, removing the hassle from everything from information collection at the most basic level through to complex multi-jurisdictional research projects. By streamlining these processes, we aim to allow the due diligence analyst to focus on the real value-add of any project: the analysis. Here we pose the same three questions with which began the series, and highlight how the GTI platform can help answer them: What information can be found? Who can find this information? How do we contract and manage them?
What information can be found?
The GTI platform dramatically simplifies the challenge of determining what information can be found. Our Network Partners operate in almost every country in the world, and are familiar with nearly every jurisdiction. Through the GTI platform, our clients can quickly tap the network’s collective understanding of what information is available and how to retrieve it. In addition, GTI maintains and updates its own data on what information is available in jurisdictions worldwide.
And the GTI platform matches our clients to the most relevant and best-positioned Network Partner for the project requirement. For corporate filings retrievals or litigation checks, this may be a local journalist or lawyer; for desktop-based research, this may be a specialist OSINT researcher; for an in-depth due diligence report including HUMINT intelligence, this may be an experienced corporate investigator who has a range of contacts within the relevant industry; and for a risk assessment, this may be a political risk consultant with expertise in the client's jurisdiction of focus.
How do we contract and manage the subcontractors?
The GTI platform radically simplifies the challenge of managing subcontractors across the entire project lifecycle – including pricing, contracting, project tracking, and payment. We provide price certainty up front, with transparent and standardised prices for all the services provided by our global community of Network Partners. Having already been vetted and contracted, there is no need for any further administrative onboarding. And with strict NDAs in place, confidentiality concerns are taken care of.
Once a project is underway, the GTI platform offers continuity on both sides of the project. On the subcontractor side, GTI tracks deadlines and sends reminders. On the client side, the GTI platform holds all project documents and communications in our secure platform, and this material is easily available to the analyst or any of her team of colleagues. And clients can communicate with the Network Partner via the GTI platform throughout the course of the project, if they wish to ask for interim updates or add additional requirements to the scope of the project.
When the project is complete, the client makes only one payment – to GTI. And after the project is done, if a question comes back, those Network Partners are always available for follow-up questions via the platform.
Who can find this information?
The GTI platform allows clients to quickly find the best subcontractor for any assignment, anywhere in the world. Our community of over 1500 partners and sources offer a wide range of skills, experience and credentials: runners who can perform basic document retrievals quickly and inexpensively; researchers with years of experience who can support a full due diligence assignment; professionals from the legal and investigative community who can execute complicated assignments; and local due diligence firms available for full spectrum project work. From the simplest task to the most complicated assignment, the GTI platform connects clients to the best-fit Network Partner.
Want help lifting the burden for your team? Start a conversation with Ground Truth Intelligence today.