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What is the Cost of a Whistleblower Hotline?

If you’ve already decided an external whistleblowing system could play an important role in your organisation’s risk and compliance strategy, you’re in good company.

Before you engage a vendor to help you design and deploy your whistleblowing hotline solution, this short guide will help you better understand what factors may influence the cost of a whistleblower hotline for your business.

Why are organisations deploying hotlines and reporting systems?

In recent years, internal reporting systems have moved away from the periphery of regulatory compliance and into mainstream public consciousness. Now, hotlines and web reporting platforms are widely considered key to helping build - and maintain - a healthy workplace culture.

Research from George Washington University has even demonstrated the positive correlation between increased hotline reporting and better financial performance, providing a clear business imperative for implementing an effective reporting system.

At the same time, recognising the crucial role ordinary people can play in preventing crime and corruption, governments across the globe are enacting fresh legislation to encourage and protect those who speak up.

What’s Most Likely to Influence the Cost of Implementing a Whistleblower Hotline?

Perhaps the easiest way to answer this question is, of course, to contact us and request a quote. We’ll be able to give you a price once we’ve understood your specific needs.

Before you do though, you may want to gain a clearer understanding of the various considerations that may contribute to the cost of a whistleblower headline – and which may result in price variations from one vendor to another.

Knowing these things will make it easier to specify your requirements and help ensure the price you’re quoted reflects your company’s true needs.

1. Number of employees and countries covered

These related factors are often the most influential when it comes to pricing a whistleblowing hotline service.

At the outset, a service provider is likely to ask you which countries you would like your hotline to cover, and how many employees it will therefore be available to. This is because, the greater the number of employees within your organisation, the higher the likely volume of reports (and associated processing and administration costs).

For services involving a telephone element, there may be a set-up, testing and ongoing maintenance cost for each Freephone / toll-free number in the countries you wish to cover.

2. Language provision

As you might expect, the more languages that will be covered by the service, the more the solution might cost. This reflects the additional costs that may be incurred by things like translation, on-call interpreters, multi-lingual operators and the set-up of multi-language online reporting options.

Where additional translation is required (eg. translation of submitted reports into another language), an additional cost may be incurred. Make sure you find out what these additional charges might be if they are not included as standard.

3. Supplier coverage

The addition of suppliers to your hotline service is likely to affect the factors listed above and will therefore influence pricing. While it might be tempting to control costs by excluding third parties from your hotline service, we advise our customers to consider this issue carefully.

Implementing a whistleblowing hotline can help you improve the ethical standards within your own business. But this may count for little if it does not extend to your supply chain – particularly if your products or services are supplied by a third party.

Recent high-profile cases in the retail sector have shown that ethical issues within the supply chain can severely impact brand reputation. Learn more about Third-Party Risk management.

4. Quantity and standard of reporting channels

It’s important to think carefully about the reporting channels you want to make available. While more reporting channels might demand a slightly larger investment, it is also likely to result in more reports and therefore more detailed, actionable risk intelligence.

Look at your employee profiles to gain a clearer understanding of their various working environments, locations, literacy and access to communications. Map the profiles to the most appropriate types of reporting channels to make it easy for your employees to report wrongdoing. It may be helpful to map out scenarios using various profiles to test your thinking.

5. Promotional materials or services

A key component of your hotline’s effectiveness is the awareness programme you put in place to support it. As part of this, you should communicate not only its existence, but also how and when it should be used, and what will happen after a report has been made.

Vendors should be able to provide advice on how to promote your hotline, and some may also offer promotional materials or templates to help get you started.

These marketing materials may be free of charge or priced as an added extra – make sure this is clarified when you receive pricing from the provider.

6. Incident Management software

Before your hotline begins receiving reports, you’ll need to think about how your organisation will log and process the data your hotline generates.

For larger organisations or those who may receive a high volume of reports, a comprehensive Incident Management System might be the answer and is likely to require additional investment.

Specialist software will simplify reporting, allowing you to assign investigative actions to colleagues and record outcomes.

More importantly, it will provide a clear audit trail of all activity relating to a report and keep your sensitive whistleblowing data secure.

Incident Management systems are often overlooked in favour of cheaper, generic alternatives (such as Microsoft Excel). However, it is essential to weigh potential savings against data privacy and security obligations – particularly when dealing with highly confidential information about your business and its employees.

7. Training and implementation support

Some vendors may offer training to help you get the most out of your hotline - particularly where software has also been supplied – as well as implementation and launch support.

Make sure the provider specifies what training and support comes ‘as standard’, and which (if any) is priced additionally.

Other cost considerations

You may be able to secure a better deal from a provider by signing up to a longer-term contract. The length of the contract is likely to influence the size of any discount.

Make sure you have a clear idea of what you need when entering into negotiations with a hotline provider. Conversations are likely to expose new needs and requirements you hadn’t considered, so be prepared to consider a broader solution than you may have originally anticipated.

However, make sure your provider suggests a solution that reflects your specific needs and meets your overall objectives.

What next?

The cost of implementing a whistleblower hotline can be a key differentiator between providers, but rarely tells the full story. To find out about our service, please visit our hotline reporting and intake page.