How To Get The Most Out of Your Case Management Software
From food banks to homeless shelters, nonprofit service organizations are the driving forces behind building better communities. They do the admirable and time-intensive work that makes our communities a better place to live, and technology plays an undeniable role in that.
Specialized nonprofit case management software enables these organizations to automate processes and optimize the services that their clients depend on. In essence, it gives them a central place to track cases, manage programs, and keep client data secure.
Social workers and case managers at organizations that already employ a case management solution or those that are moving to digital operations for the first time may find themselves wondering, “How can I maximize the use of my software?” Rightfully so! This type of software is a valuable investment if you implement it strategically and ensure everyone in your organization knows how it can fit into their daily work and benefit them and their clients.
To help, reading and employing tips in this guide will give you a better understanding of how you can first and foremost invest in the right software solution, then effectively adopt it across different departments. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Start with case management software that aligns with your needs.
- Teach your staff how to use the software.
- Exercise proper cybersecurity.
By putting thought into how you can maximize your software’s capabilities, you’ll find that you’re able to create much more impactful differences for your clients and your staff. Let’s get started so you can start thinking about the immediate changes you can make to your software implementation strategies.
Start with case management software that aligns with your needs.
Your strategies can only be as effective as the technology that backs them, so start with a solution that’s equipped with the features your team needs. Remember, no two solutions are the same, and no two organizations are either!
If you look at different case management software providers, you’ll notice that different solutions are tailored to different industries. For instance, platforms for violence survivor service organizations may come equipped with pre-built forms and reports to maintain compliance with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Victim of Crimes Act (VOCA). On the other hand, a housing case management solution may offer pre-built forms and reports that are designed to provide the data necessary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Here’s another example: Youth service organizations will benefit from a solution that offers class scheduling, the ability to monitor participation, and custom assessments, whereas other nonprofit service organizations might not need that functionality.
Looking at solutions designed for your industry is a great starting point, but you’ll need to do more than that. Here are a few steps you can take to determine what you need out of your case management software:
- Conduct an internal needs assessment. Doing this will give you insight into the biggest challenges different departments at your organization face. Then, you can chart out the exact features that will help bridge any gaps.
- Go over common processes that your organization follows. Social Solutions’ guide to social work case management explains that there are a handful of core components essential to case management for most organizations. These include client intake, needs assessment, service planning, and evaluation. Therefore, ensure your software solution addresses these processes. For instance, client intake can be streamlined with self-service functionality and customizable forms to collect the right information from clients. Be sure to also consider any other processes that are instrumental to your organization’s work outside of these core four.
- Rank the features you need from most to least important. Some features will naturally be more important to your work than others. Ranking them will help you find a solution that comes equipped with the most crucial tools you need without using up your nonprofit’s budget.
Knowing what you do (and don’t) need will help you pick a specialized solution that will streamline your work rather than hinder it. As a general rule of thumb, make sure your software is easily customizable to tailor it to your needs and cloud-based to help caseworkers update information out in the field.
Teach your staff how to use the software.
If you’re implementing new case management software, know that it can be a challenging transition for your team — especially if the organization is shifting from paper operations. However, the transition between systems and processes can be better managed if you proactively train your staff on how to use the technology.
Training is crucial to your team’s success. It’s not just about making the technology easier for staff to use; it’s about serving your community efficiently and achieving real outcomes with your work.
Helpful training opportunities might include the following:
- Leverage resources from your provider. Great customer service will expand beyond troubleshooting with ongoing training opportunities, so first and foremost, leverage any training resources that your case management software provider offers. There’s no better source you can leverage than the people who develop your technology and know the product inside and out. Inquire about live sessions, role-specific training, pre-recorded videos, and written training manuals. Most importantly, make sure any training is tailored to your organization’s software configuration.
- Have internal team members train others. Pull in key staff members as you’re testing the software so they become familiar with the system early on. This might include different department leads who can learn which features are essential for their teams. Then, they’ll be prepared to help others during the implementation process.
- Monitor usage to determine if more training is needed later on. Some people may be resistant to new technology, primarily because they don’t know how to use it. Check in with different departments to see how things are going with the software. If they’re struggling to implement it, that might indicate more training is needed or the software doesn’t offer the features teams need.
Beyond training existing staff to use the software, build technical training into onboarding for new team members. RealHR Solutions’ guide to workplace training explains that sufficient training in all areas of the organization will help develop an engaged workforce that drives your organization forward — including your technology.
Training plays a major role in the usability of your software. If people don’t know how to navigate the system, that can negatively impact their efficiency and quality of work. On the other hand, technical proficiency will translate into greater productivity, fewer mistakes, and a competitive edge for your organization. Even after initially adopting the software, periodically revisit how the technology is working for different teams, so you can make sure they’re getting the most out of the software.
Exercise proper cybersecurity.
No matter your mission, your organization handles sensitive information every day. For instance, violence survivor organizations take hotline calls and provide a safe space where those at risk can seek the help they need. Likewise, youth service organizations collect sensitive details regarding minors as they put them on the path to learning and growing.
Whatever data you gather or services you provide your clients, you have a responsibility to protect them. Poor cybersecurity practices will put your clients at risk when your team is supposed to be the ones providing them with services that impact their lives in a positive direction.
There’s an inherent risk you take every time you employ software, and case management software is no exception. However, if you take the time to find a secure platform and then implement internal cybersecurity practices, managing your operations digitally can actually be just as secure, if not more secure, than traditional, paper-based operations.
Here are a few ways your team can practice proper cybersecurity:
- Double-check your solution’s security features. Proper cybersecurity starts with your software. Make sure your system adheres to any industry-specific protocol you need to follow. For instance, you might need your system to be HIPAA compliant, encrypt users’ data, or allow users to log into the web application servers via a secure HTTPS connection.
- Set password requirements. If your case management software offers configurable password requirements, take advantage of that. Implement internal requirements that users have to follow when creating their passwords. This might include using special characters, using a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, or enabling multi-factor authentication.
- Restrict users’ access. If possible, assign permissions to different users based on their roles. That way, you’ll restrict access to sensitive information to only those who need to see it. For example, while you might want all staff members to be able to see client names and contact information, you might limit the ability to view case notes only to caseworkers.
While proper cybersecurity starts with your case management software, it continues with effective cybersecurity practices across your team. Make sure to provide clear guidelines for your staff to follow, such as always signing in from trusted devices and never sharing their login credentials with others. That way, your clients can rest assured that they’re receiving the best care possible, and your organization’s leaders can make sure they’re complying with rules and regulations.
These three easy steps will help you get more out of your case management software and reassure clients that you’re prioritizing their wellbeing. Backed by the right nonprofit case management software and implementation strategies, you’ll find that your team is much more effective.
And remember, in many cases, efficiency and quality start with your technology, but proper internal practices will help you go above and beyond. So start with the suggestions we’ve covered in this article, and keep in mind that there are plenty of other great strategies out there that you can implement in addition that will help you make your community a better place.
About the Author
Sophie Konewko, Community Development Executive at Social Solutions
Sophie Konewko is impact driven, always on the lookout for ways to innovate through collaboration. Her experience consulting education systems and nonprofits on technology decisions, combined with her degree in Community Sociology, gives her a strategic outlook on the industry. Sophie empowers organizations to flourish by enabling them to be confident in their decision making and process implementation.