All organizations delivering direct service programs need a case management system.
Good case management systems allow you to easily collect client-level data that records how many people are served, how well those services are delivered, and whether anyone is better off. They should also help you manage individual client cases.
There are many case management solutions to choose from and you may be wondering which ones meet the highest number of requirements at the best price.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you select the best system:
How many features does the system offer? Are all of these features necessary? Are they designed to meet your needs? Will the system increase or reduce the overall complexity of your case management efforts?
Complexity refers to the overall technical capability and functionality of the system. The data needs of public sector organizations are highly unique. They also have very different goals and processes than private sector organizations. Therefore, evaluating the complexity of the systems available to see if your needs are being met is highly important.
2. Ease of Use
How long does it take to learn how to use the system? Will you need training? Is the system easy to use or difficult to use?
According to the IBISWorld Industry reports, a key factor of success for companies in the CRM System Providers Industry is that the product is user/consumer-friendly.
We know from experience that this is especially true for nonprofit and government organizations. Due to the nature of their work, staff in these organizations tends to have a lower level of technical training and expertise, so you should keep the capacity of your staff in mind when selecting a system.
Most case management software companies will claim that their systems are easy to use but this may not be the case in practice. Always request a demo of the systems you are considering to see exactly what it will take to use the system effectively.
3. Survey/ Data Collection Functionality
Does the case management system allow you to collect client-level data and results through surveys? Does the system allow you to build custom surveys or do you have to use a separate system and then enter data manually after the fact?
One of the biggest challenges reported by our clients in nonprofit and government organizations is data collection. They are facing increasing amounts of pressure from funders to provide evidence of the impact that their work is having on the community, but struggle to actually get the data needed to do so.
The ability for a data system to enable data collection in an easy and efficient way increases the overall value of the system significantly.
4. Results Data Tracking
Does the system automatically aggregate individual-level data to help you evaluate program-level results?
Nonprofit and government organizations need to be able to quantify the efficiency and effectiveness of their programs and services to justify their funding.
To do this, they need to be able to aggregate individual-level data into performance metrics for their services as a whole and align them with community-level indicators to demonstrate the results they are helping to achieve.
The ability for a case management system to automatically aggregate contact records and survey responses into performance metrics is an extremely valuable feature.
5. Communication Features
Does the system offer a way to communicate with clients and share results?
In order to increase transparency, inspire confidence with funders, and motivate partners and volunteers by nonprofit and government organizations need to be able to communicate effectively with the public.
Features that enable easy external communication with the public greatly increase the value of a Case Management System.
6. Security and Access Management
Is the system secure?
When dealing with personal information, organizations have a legal obligation to guard that information securely.
This is especially true in public sector organizations where the stored information can be related to an individual’s health, finances, personal history, etc. Therefore, security and access management are of utmost importance in Case Management Systems.
There is no such thing as a perfect case management system and different systems will prioritize different needs. So, it’s important to rate your needs in terms of importance. Select a system that fulfills all of your most important requirements, is easy to use, and is cost-effective.
It is likely that most case management systems you look at will come with claims of “easiest in the industry” or “most effective.” This is why it’s important to ask for a demo or trial during your decision-making process. Getting into the system and testing out all the features for yourself will be the best way to determine what is truly easy to use and what will meet your most important needs.
What is the value for the cost of the case management system?
The cost of acquiring a product or service is an extremely important factor to any public sector organization. Nonprofit organizations have notoriously unpredictable revenue streams that are made up primarily of donations and grants. Therefore, they are typically very hesitant to make long-term commitments for services when there are cheaper options available.
Government organizations typically have a formal procurement process that requires them to put projects out to bid before they are able to make a purchase.
In our experience, the cheapest option that meets all of the RFP’s minimum requirements is typically the one selected.