For most organizations, case management software is about a lot more than just making your day slightly easier through the adoption of new technology. It's about leveraging the power of the digital world both to your advantage and to the advantage of the people you serve. It's about enabling superior communication that gives way to better, stronger collaboration. It's about driving business outcomes and building your enterprise around the performance-enhancing engine that you need when you need it the most.
And eventually, it will have to be upgraded. This is not a question of "if," but "when."
Yet this in and of itself represents certain challenges that need to be addressed in the short-term. Any upgrade is a substantial financial investment that needs to justify its own existence. It's also something that happens fast - you can't suspend services for six months to get new case management software up and running.
All of this comes with a certain amount of inherent-yet-necessary risk, which demands the question: when is it the right time to take such a significant leap? Thankfully, getting the timing right is a lot more straightforward than it may seem. You just need to keep a few key things in mind.
Upgrading Your Software and the Art of Timing
Perhaps the number one sign that the time is right to upgrade your case management software is that you're losing visibility as your organization continues to grow and evolve. With the right case management solution for the right business at the right time, you should never have to worry about whether or not some of your cases are trapped in a proverbial "limbo." There should never be a situation where someone hasn't looked at them for months (or worse - years) because the case management system you need will have reports and dashboards that enable you to quickly see what is going on and what needs to be done.
If you're finding it harder and harder just to quickly identify what staff members are up to, what progress they're making and what must be done in the short-term, you're looking at a situation where the time is right to make the jump to something a little more appropriate for your needs.
Another one of the most essential signs to watch for to know when the time is right to upgrade your software has to do with automation, or a lack thereof. To say that your staff members spend a lot of time dealing with documents is something of an understatement, but we've reached a point where they should no longer be creating those documents from scratch. Copying and pasting new information into old documents isn't just from the "old school" way of doing things. It's from the school they tore down to build the "old school."
You and your team should always be looking for new ways to leverage automation into productivity enhancements. Your case management software should make it easy to create templates so that your staff doesn't have to. It should let you generate the same document for multiple cases with a few clicks of a button, instead of forcing you to do so manually. If your case management software doesn't do this, the time is right to start looking for one that does.
As part of what case management software is supposed to do in the first place is act as a communication enabler, another definitive sign that the time is right for an upgrade is if it doesn't allow you to do so in a way that keeps up with modern trends. Sophisticated modern case management solutions support SMS text messaging to clients and contacts, for example. When you consider that 85% of American adults now own a smartphone or some kind, it stands to reason that your case management software should be able to support this. If it can't, it's time to look for something that can.
The importance of utilizing the right software for the right tasks at the right time is something that it is not possible to overstate. Budgeting, scheduling, aligning IT resources with future goals - all of it is essential, and all of it becomes easier with the right solution at your side. While it's true that upgrading too early can lead to a significant expense you didn't need to make, waiting too long can be just as dangerous. Provided that you know what signs to watch out for, though, you'll find that the process is a lot easier (and less painful) than you probably assumed it would be.
If you have any questions on how to get started... download our case management guide.
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Editor's Note: This post was originally published in August 2017 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.