|Name: Jason Frasca & Steve McDonald
Profession: Private Investigators
Location: New York City
Company: Davis Investigations, Inc.
Jason Frasca & Steve McDonald are expert private investigators at Davis Investigations, Inc., a company that specializes in video surveillance and investigations related to insurance, medical malpractice, personal injury fraud, and divorce. The company has turned Evernote into their case manager. Read on to see how they used Evernote’s open data format to build additional functionality to help them manage 600 legacy cases and 200 open cases.
We use Evernote, Everywhere:
Employees are often out in the field with their mobile devices. In the office, they primarily use Macs and some log into their Evernote accounts from home, on their PCs.
We use Evernote for…
Our whole company uses Evernote. We all have Premium accounts and sharing is absolutely critical for our work. We primarily use Evernote as our centralized case management system. We have 2408 notes in the system. Imagine how many manilla folders it would take to house our entire case file, which lives virtually.
When we first started using Evernote as a company, we realized that we could customize it to our unique needs (much like the way 3rd party developers have done with a breadth of integrated Trunk applications). We used Evernote’s open data format to create our own custom interface for the .enex format, allowing us to work with Evernote even MORE efficiently.
Using the Evernote data format to customize Evernote to our liking
We have to be able to quickly capture case information and also be able to search through all of the notes from an investigation, at a moment’s notice. Opening a new case file often involves a lot of repetitive work, entering in redundant information. We wanted to figure out a way to create a template inside of Evernote. Having some technical knowledge allowed us come up with a neat structure for helping us capture information for new cases using our own template inside of Evernote.
When we realized that Evernote notes can be exported as .enex files, we saw an opportunity to use a text editor to make changes across multiple notes at once. From there, we went on to build a full featured application that can manipulate a blank case template file and generate all of the notes necessary to open a new case with much of the information already filled in. This templated approach to creating new case files has saved us an immeasurable amount of time in the document-generation process.
Evernote for case file management
Every person in the company has a Premium account and we use Shared Notebooks when we capture information, create new cases, and need to access information related to any given case. Transitioning from our old case management system was easy; we used the Evernote Web Clipper to move all of our case files into Evernote. Here’s a look at how we keep our case files organized in Evernote:
- Universal Index for every case. We have one Shared Notebook that serves as a universal index of every case. We use Note Links to navigate to the head note of each individual case. [Learn more about sharing in Evernote]
- Shared Notebooks for all cases. We have another Shared Notebook that contains all of the cases. There are 12 notes per case and the bulk of our case files live in this second, shared notebook.
- Tagging cases. We tag each case with the year, client, and file number. Each case has 2-6 tags. The title of each note has a an associated file number as well.
- Notes to remember people. Every case we open includes a note on the person we are investigating. This includes their physical description, location, car, etc.
- Client correspondence. Client correspondence is also saved in Evernote, so we always have a record of it. We have one tag that keeps it all together in one neat pile.
- File storage. We store documents in Evernote, too. It’s easy to attach them to any note and always be able to access them when we need them.
- Video storage. Since we do video surveillance, we have a lot of video saved in Evernote. Videos are saved to notes associated with each individual file.
At this point, 80-85% of our office work is done in Evernote. If we wanted to see all of the files from a certain client, we’d just have to start typing in their name (we wouldn’t even need to know their case number) and all of the notes associated with that case would pop up. Now, we can search back to 2005. That’s incredible.
Evernote in the field
A big part of our job involves being out in the field conducting and capturing video surveillance. When you’re in the field and it’s 5 a.m and you’re looking at your Android phone screen, you want to look in a specific area, get the details you need and then focus on the task at hand. You don’t want to be wandering around, searching for information. Here are a few other ways Evernote helps us in the field:
- For capturing information on the go. Clients call all the time to give us new cases, but we’re not always at the computer to process a case. The other day, Jason was out in the field and he had a pen and paper on hand. He was able to jot down information the client shared, take a photo of it and send it to Steve. Back at the office, Steve was able to open the case. Now, not only do we have the formal case, but the original piece of paper saved in Evernote, too.
- For collaboration. We always have two private investigators working on every case and Evernote allows everyone to be on the same page. If an update is made by one person, the other investigator is able to access it. It’s critical to be able to access notes as they’re being made.
- For having access to thousands of notes on your mobile device. When you’re out in the field, you don’t have your computer with you, but you need to have immediate access to information. Having access to our entire case file and having it be completely searchable — in seconds — is invaluable.
The Offline Notebook is a killer feature for mobile devices. When we’re on surveillance, we’re not always in an area where we have connectivity. We travel in a 150 mile radius on a daily basis and there’s not always a cell phone connection. With Offline Notebooks, we can access the case we’re working on, even if we’re ‘out of range.’
Evernote offers us a really fantastic tool that is super efficient and gives us everything we need to organize our entire company incredibly well. It’s also helping us move towards a paperless and incredibly mobile environment. Evernote has cut the time it takes us to open a new case in half.
*Names and places in screenshots have all been changed.