Visualizing Employee Activities Through Data

I’m a big fan of podcasts. Find one that relates to the world of data or fraud detection, and you’ve really got my attention. A recent episode of Note to Self on the use of surveillance technology caught my attention, and it led me to this related podcast from Radiolab. Both podcasts were fascinating and focused on the use of surveillance in crime prevention and detection. By the end of each podcast, I was thinking of ways they could impact my work as a fraud examiner.

While not directly related to fraud prevention and detection, the podcasts described principles applicable in forensic investigations. The podcasts focused on using and visualizing nontraditional—in this case, location-based—data sets.

Application in Examinations

Fraud examiners often limit their investigations to data housed in traditional accounting systems. Even if they use data outside those systems, it’s likely still financial in nature. However, to effectively leverage organizational data, you need to think beyond accounting systems and financial information. You have great amounts of company data at your disposal. Take, for instance, access data—access to buildings, computers, networks or phones—anything that allows you to track employees throughout your organization during the day:

  • Time of first email access
  • Time entering the parking garage
  • Time accessing the building
  • Time logging on to the computer
  • File access times
  • Breaks during the day based on computer activity
  • Print times for individual documents
  • Time logging off the computer
  • Time leaving the building
  • Time leaving the parking garage
  • Re-entry of any location
  • IP address if logged in when off site

While you may not have cameras tracking your employees, you have individual data points allowing you to track their activities during the day. Visualizing this information may be beneficial in your next examination. If nothing else, it may help you narrow down the list of those you want to investigate further.

Call to Action

When it comes to deciding what data to use in an examination, it’s important to consider all possible options. Access-based data is one of many types of nonfinancial data sets in your organization. Today’s examiners have more data available to them than ever before. In the future, investigators likely will have access to even more information—and will face new opportunities and challenges. What data sets can you leverage today for your next examination?


Jeremy specializes in providing fraud investigation and forensic data mining services. He assists with fraud investigations through a variety of tasks, including interviewing employees, obtaining evidence, examining documents, analyzing large data sets, estimating losses and presenting findings. Jeremy has experience in using both ACL and IDEA data analysis software for forensic data mining and continuous auditing.

Jeremy Clopton – who has written posts on BKD Forensics.

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