Incorporating technology to track client information and progress is no longer ‘should we or shouldn’t we’. It’s a necessary tool. For internal review, reporting and/or remuneration, you have to have a reliable, intuitive system that grows with your agency. And you want this to be a one-time investment.
Tips for selecting software:
1) Prioritize software options specific to your industry. Many customizable features / requirements will already be in place. As an example, EMHware meets all the CDS and Chapter 7 CMH&A MIS reporting requirements of the Ministry of Health.
2) Longevity – select a vendor that has grown a customer base and has long-term staff. You need them as a lifelong partner.
3) Contact provider’s current clients. Speak with decision makers AND (more importantly), front line user(s) who worked through the implementation process. “If you could do it over again, what would you do differently?” should be on your list of questions.
4) Price should never be the deciding factor with software. There is a reason why someone is the cheapest.
There are ALWAYS bumps. Plan for them. Your current system has taken years to evolve so introducing a new system will not be a well-oiled machine overnight either.
1) No need to be blindsided – take the time to prepare. You will implement this technology once but if you have chosen a professional software team, they have been through the process many times. Their experience will educate your organization on best, worst and most likely scenarios. Everyone wants things to run smoothly, but few things with technology and implementation go off without a hitch.
2) Form an Implementation Team combining management AND front liners. Too often, those end users aren’t included in the pre-planning – big mistake. They are critical in coming up with Plan B’s. Include staff from all software touch points as everyone may use it a little differently for different things.
** Note: this is the time to re-think routines and review processes. Is there a better way to be doing something? Sub-teams should create flowcharts of current practices and brainstorm opportunities to streamline/replace antiquated ones.
3) People hate change. Keep Implementation Teams positive and speak regularly about the long-term win. Include all staff in the process of listing the great outcomes expected once this journey is complete. Name the project something positive like “Reporting Enhancement Tool” or RET (“Implementing RET this Friday”, “Countdown to RET”, “RET-tastic!”).
4) Plan B’s. Be proactive rather than reactive by developing ‘what if’s’. For example, “What if our reporting system isn’t available by first month’s end?” Brainstorming session finalizes a plan: “We will utilize an electronic spreadsheet for the first three months so info can be copied and pasted into the required <insert your report name here> monthly and later into the software.” You can use the aforementioned flow charts to build your ‘what if’s’.
5) Stage the implementation. Can your vendor ‘turn on’ certain functions of the software to allow staff confidence to grow prior to enabling all features? Can demo sessions be created that mirror your specific work environment vs. a standardized training? Don’t overwhelm staff if you can avoid it.
6) Assign staff members as internal go-to experts to help as well as providing unlimited access to external support with ongoing training. Adults learn and adapt differently – lack of information or communication can make staff nervous and insecure which breed’s negativity and rejection of change.
7) Always back up in several different places.
As the purchaser of case management software, you do not need to know how to implement it from a technical point of view. You need to select a reliable company with a proven track record of success and long client list.
You are paying for exceptional software and expertise – demand both!