Looking for the right case management software can be a challenge for anyone in the nonprofit sector. After all, there are so many choices and few that actually address the needs of a human services agency at a price that is affordable. When looking, it is tempting to simply look at the price tag first and then see what the software can accomplish. "What can I get for the money...?" while an important question is probably not the most important... at least when starting off.
You should look at your agency's needs first - to narrow down your search. Think about what you want your software to do, whether it be to streamline your case workers' day, maximize tracking of client files, show and track interactions with clients, handle your fee for service or census billing, or to focus on keeping you on track with your fundraising. If you want a little bit of each, you may be able to look at more options than if your primary need is centered upon one very specific area or handling just "one" problem.
Be Deliberate in Your Search
Know what you're looking for and be deliberate in your search. With so many products on the market today - your quest can seem daunting, overwhelming and frankly, confusing at times. But, remain vigilant and don't allow yourself to get distracted, especially by another shiny object.
3 Most Important Features
At the end of day - there are 3 bottom line features your software MUST have. Sure - you must decipher whether your solution can do the basic case management functions and help you report on your data. But above all - what we have found to be the 3 critical elements of usability are the following:
Part of finding the right program involves making sure that it is easy to use and intuitive. This process comes from exploring the program and taking it for a test run if possible. You should also have a good feel for how the company works by asking about the technical support options after purchase. If a company runs a technical support department that is outsourced to another country, this may be a cause for frustration down the road. The bottom line - your caseworkers must be comfortable using it. If they're not - your ROI will diminish. Caseworker usability should be a HUGE part of your decision. If they don't use it - you've wasted money.
If you find that your case workers would benefit from having mobile access to their notes, try to find a platform that allows sign ins from any internet device, including most smart phones and tablet computers. This allows access to files anywhere that your case workers may find themselves. Smart Phone and Tablet access allows for RAPID CASE MANAGEMENT and provides your team with what they need from wherever they are - in a moment's notice - without being tied to your office.
While this may seem as though it is an obvious issue, using software that is designed for your industry is important. Having access to tools that are industry specific can make or break a software platform. You also must consider any custom needs you may have and how easy and affordable those customizations can occur for you. After all, who knows the ins and outs of a human services nonprofit agency better than you... one who has worked in the field or who has listened to experts in developing the best nonprofit software available? But what else? Starting with a platform vs. a ready made piece of software not only allows for personalization and new specialization for you, but also ensures that when your agency expands, grows and changes - your software solution can change, as well when needed.
Questions...You May Want to Start Here
We've written an Ebook that can help you identify your agency's needs and break down the barriers to getting a good case management system. The Unofficial to Nonprofit Case Management is a free Ebook that you can download today. It has checklists and questions to ask yourself and your team as you move towards identifying your next solution.
To help eliminate the confusion and risk associated with implementing a new system - you need to see what we're doing with our latest, streamlined version of FAMCare... FAMCare 5. It is a simple, affordable case management solution that you can test drive today. Reach out to us today for a demo and a conversation.