BFA #025 | Organizing the Chaos

From chaos to fraud ops

What's happening Fraud Fighters?

If you've taken on the task of creating or overhauling fraud operations at your company, you know it can feel like an uphill battle.

When processes are undocumented or disorganized, it's challenging to make meaningful progress.

Where do you even begin establishing structure within all that chaos?

Let's investigate further.

Read Time: ~3.57 Minutes

Understanding the Chaos

There were no pre-existing structures, no clear protocols, and absolutely no team. I was taking over from another fraud by committee. A handful of people who inherited different parts of fraud, but want nothing to do with it. Why would they though? It was never really supposed to be why they were hired.

It’s never not a daunting task, but for some reason this is where I thrive.

The fraud operations function had been neglected for years and processes were disorganized at best, nonexistent at worst.

The team consisted of 3 people working in silos, no documented procedures, and zero big picture strategy or coordination. They were happy to quickly hand off their responsibilities to me - almost in a way that they felt like I was a sucker…

I started with a deep dive fraud risk assessment, interviewing stakeholders across the business to shine a light on vulnerabilities and digging through customer tickets to find the voice of the customer. It was eye opening just how many gaps there were in processes and controls throughout the business. No wonder why they decided to hire for this role

Organizing the Chaos

Now that you know the risks, it's time to plan efficient workflows for your fraud operations. Start with comprehensive documentation of the existing processes and procedures. This should include every step that your team currently takes in carrying out an investigation, from the initial notification of an incident, all the way to the resolution and reporting of results. Be meticulous in documenting the tasks, including who performs each task, how they do it, the tools or systems they use, and the time it typically takes.

Watch your fraud fighters work. Notice the difficulties they face every day. But don't just stop there. Take a closer look at the case management systems and tools they use. It's important to see if these systems and tools are causing the problems. If they are, it's time to make big changes.

Start by testing small changes in your workflow before implementing them on a larger scale. This allows you to assess their effectiveness and make adjustments without causing major disruptions. By testing on a smaller scale, you can ensure compatibility with current processes and minimize risks.

Set up tracking mechanisms to monitor key workflow efficiency metrics like analyst caseloads, investigation handling times, and escalation resolution rates. Continually refine workflows based on changing needs and emerging trends. Smooth handoffs and communication channels are key for productivity.

Just here for the simple processes? I got you

  1. Document current workflow processes end-to-end

  2. Identify pain points and bottlenecks causing inefficiencies

  3. Brainstorm ways to streamline handoffs between teams

  4. Map optimized workflows and get stakeholder input

  5. Implement workflow changes through small controlled pilots first

  6. Provide training and support on new workflows

  7. Establish quantifiable metrics to track workflow efficiency

  8. Iterate on changes in response to measured outcomes

  9. Automate repetitive manual tasks where possible

  10. Continually assess workflows in light of new tools/priorities

The Anti-Chaos Framework

As workflows shape up, it's time to develop an overarching framework to guide all fraud operation activities. This provides the infrastructure to scale operations now and into the future.

When designing your framework, opt for adaptability over rigidness. We know fraud threats are always evolving, so we need to build in flexibility to pivot as needed.

Thought I forgot about how to align fraud with bigger business objectives?

You knew me better by now.

Clearly align framework components to business objectives and risk appetite. This ensures fraud operations activities drive toward the right outcomes. Update frameworks along with changes to the business strategy.

Introduce changes incrementally when implementing new frameworks to minimize disruption. Provide ample training and get stakeholder buy-in at every stage. If you have no reinforcement plan, your training will be a waste of time.

Without a solid framework, fraud fighting efforts become fragmented. A strong foundation allows you to systematically expand capabilities down the road.

But scale doesn’t matter if everything is still just chaos.

For fraud fighters to work efficiently, standardized procedures for investigations are a must. Establish consistency across investigations to enable accurate benchmarking.

Build playbooks with step-by-step protocols tailored to fraud types analysts will encounter. Address everything from receiving alerts to evidence gathering, analysis, reporting, and prevention recommendations.

If fraud fighters don't have established guidelines, they tend to create processes on the spot. This can result in crucial steps being overlooked, delays in handling cases, and ultimately allowing fraud to go undetected. Continual quality checks and playbook updates are essential in avoiding these habits and future coaching nightmares.

The playbook serves as a guidebook that outlines the proper steps to follow when handling different types of cases. By updating the playbook regularly, fraud fighters can stay informed about the latest fraud trends, techniques, and prevention strategies. This allows them to adapt their processes accordingly and stay one step ahead of fraudsters.

If they know the playbooks are never up to date, why would they ever use them?

I wouldn’t.

So let’s help a fraud fighter out by staying up to date with this framework.

  1. Document current procedures for fraud investigation operations

  2. Identify variability and gaps in investigation process

  3. Standardize playbooks for investigation processes

  4. Customize based on different fraud risk types

  5. Training for investigators on new procedures

  6. Implement QA practices for consistency

  7. Reinforce SOPs with case management

  8. Solicit regular investigator feedback

  9. Use insights from past cases

  10. Update as fraud evolves

See you again next Friday in your inbox.


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→ Today's action step: Read back through this issue and figure out where you’re at. Find the relevant suggestions I laid out and choose just one to move forward with next week.

If you’re looking to build your career, there are 2 ways I can help you:

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