auditor, investigator, analyst: it’s all mixed up

A lot of people use the terms analyst, investigator, or auditor interchangeably, however, each job is different.

Most investigators work from evidence of a crime to build a case describing who completed the criminal act. By comparison, analysts, such as intelligence analysts, constantly review incoming data about a certain group (or individual), building over a career a sense of that group’s activities which allows the analyst to extrapolate what the potential next steps of the group will be; the analyst seeks to look forward to describe what might happen, while the investigator looks back reconstructing what did happen. Auditors do not review the past nor do they seek to divine the future. Instead, a protocol, or list of instructions including criteria, is used to review or evaluate a program funded by some company, group, or government. The instructions describe exactly how the program should be reviewed, beginning with determining what criteria should be used to evaluate the program, then seeking out any and all data which would help the auditor determine, based on the criteria, how well the program is performing.

Type of Reviewer What is being reviewed? Temporal Space of Review Knowledge Base of the Reviewer Needed Goal of the Review
Analyst Group/individual Looking to past actions to predict future actions Extensive contextual understanding developed over time. Prediction of Future Actions
Auditor(Financial or Program) Finances of a Program or effectiveness of a program Evaluating past effectiveness of program No prior knowledge of program needed. Evaluation of program effectiveness
Investigator Group/individual and a crime or event Looking to past actions to determine what happened at that point in time Extensive understanding of crime or event. Contextual understanding less relevant. Criminal Investigator: Jail timeAll other Investigators: Answers to discreet questions
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