You’ve already decided an external whistleblowing hotline could play an important role in your organisation’s governance or risk-prevention strategy.

But how much is it likely to cost – and what factors are most likely to influence pricing?

Perhaps the easiest answer to this question is, of course, to contact one or more whistleblowing hotline specialists and request a quote.

Before you do though, you may want to gain a clearer understanding of the various considerations that may contribute to the price.

Knowing these things will make it easier to specify what you need and what you don’t, and help ensure the price you’re quoted reflects your company’s true needs.

Key pricing factors

1: Number of employees / countries covered

These are usually the most influential factors 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).

Multi-national organisations

For services involving a telephone element, there will likely be a set-up, testing and ongoing maintenance cost for each Freephone / toll-free number in each country.

Many multi-national organisations choose to launch their service in multiple territories at the same time, while some prefer to trial the service in one country before a wider rollout.

Ensure you request pricing for both options if you’re undecided on this point.

2. Number of languages

As you might expect, the more languages that will be covered by the service, the more the solution is likely to cost.

This reflects the additional costs incurred by offline 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 is likely to be incurred.

Some providers may offer more ‘standard’ languages than others. Make sure you find out what these are and how much ‘extra’ languages could cost.

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 strongly advise our clients 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.

4. Number of reporting options

It’s important that you work out how many reporting options you think your employees will need. The more options you require, the more the hotline service might cost.

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 all of your employees to report wrongdoing. It may be helpful to map out scenarios using various profiles to test your thinking.

5. Your customisation requirements

Some providers offer off-the-shelf services that are designed to fit certain types of business.

In some cases these may end up being a reasonable fit for your company – particularly if your needs are very straightforward and your primary aim is to get a solution in place as quickly as possible.

However it is likely that you will need some form of customisation with your whistleblowing hotline solution.

Most providers should be able to accommodate this, but it is possible that certain types of customisation will incur an added cost.

6. Promotional materials or services

Once you have the hotline in place, the next task is to promote the whistleblowing hotline to your employees. This will help build awareness of its existence, what issues should be reported and how it can be reached.

All providers will be able to provide advice on how best 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.

7. Case Management

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 large organisations who may receive a high volume of reports, a Case Management system might be the answer. While this won’t increase the cost of the hotline solution itself, it will require additional investment.

Specialist Case Management software will simplify reporting, allow 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.

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

8. Training                                          

Some whistleblowing hotline providers may offer training to help you get the most out of your hotline, particularly where Case Management software has also been supplied.

Make sure the provider specifies what training 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 objectives (rather than an over-engineered or generic service).

What next?

Cost can be a key differentiator between providers, but rarely tells the full story.

To find out about our pricing and what can influence the cost, view our pricing page.

Discover the 29 questions you need to ask hotline service providers