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Answering the Tough Questions: A Forensic Approach to Consulting by David H. Heemann

The Most interesting Man Alive

David H. Heemann - Casualty Claims Manager, Mutual of Enumclaw Insurance Group, is one of my favorite people in the world, one of my closest friends, and the only person I have ever met that qualifies as a true Renaissance Man. He's got a B.S. in Criminal Justice, a Masters in Forensic Science, a degree in law and has passed the State of CA bar exam, was an insurance executive, an independent claims adjuster, a CFO, a professional building inspector and consultant, a mold expert, a contractor, a technology entrepreneur, a lawyer, a professor, an airplane pilot, a sommelier, a Culinary Institute of America (CIA) graduate chef, and on, and on, and on... 

The point is, he's really smart. I had the honor of working with David for a long time and was the beneficiary of his brilliance, knowledge and wisdom. In this article, Answering the Tough Questions: A Forensic Approach to Consulting, David shares a small slice of his hard-won experience with us. 

One Minute Summary

INTRODUCTION: Merriam-Webster says forensics is “relating to or
dealing with the application of scientific knowledge to legal problems“. The forensic approach: Following a set of scientific rules, including the use of the research enterprise, scientific method, detailed and complete documentation, and integrity.

THE RESEARCH ENTERPRISE: This is your project plan; the processes and principles for a systematic pursuit of information, and problem solving. The research enterprise includes defining the project and its purpose, the manner and type of information to be collected, and the variables are defined to create what is called the research. From there, the information is analyzed, its validity tested, and its reliability checked. 

SCIENTIFIC METHOD: A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses. Steps include: 1. Problem Formation 2. Research Design 3. Data Collection 4. Analysis of the Data 5. Interpretation 6. Conclusions 7. Final Report / Presentation 8. Publishing 9. Re-Test.  

DOCUMENTATION: Detailed documentation is critical. You need to create detailed field and research notes, project background summaries, charts and graphs, photographs with annotations, indexes of documents reviewed, and summaries of statements and findings. 

INTEGRITY: Without your integrity intact, none of the other issues matter, because no one will listen.

FORENSIC APPROACH: You have a legal responsibility to provide your client with complete and accurate information at a level of a competent consultant. The information you prepare will be viewed by your client and their attorney, possibly the court and jury, and by the other side. When you use a forensic approach there really are no tough questions, you have all the answers documented.

CONCLUSION: Creating a system of checks and balances is what the forensic approach does naturally, standardizing your approach to every project in the same way. This tool provides you with a pre-established approach to dealing with any situation.

Why We Care

PFCS' job is to combine technical construction expertise, project management discipline, technology and standards to solve building problems. This document is one of the key standards that we apply. All of our work should conform with the guidelines established by this article.