When smart phones first came out, it was predicted that everyone would eventually have one and that we couldn’t live without them. That prediction has come true.
One of our customers was very quick to adopt the technology for their caseworkers and decided to give each one a smart phone and a data plan so they could enter case notes into FAMCare anywhere they went, especially while waiting in court. It was a very expensive endeavor to find out a smart phone isn’t really efficient for typing in lengthy case notes. Had the customer waited a little bit, they may have found a cheaper tablet a much wiser investment for their workers.
Often times, especially in a tech-savvy agency, a hardware or software “shiny new object” grabs the attention of the director and a move is made towards it. The smart phone was something that came along several years ago. Initially, however- the technology wasn't as "smart" as it is today. The smart phone technology and its application has evolved. For example, the early smart phones didn’t have cameras. Then they incorporated cameras but the output was weak... low pixels, etc. Today – they can be a tremendous asset for a caseworker doing a home site survey.
A very new trend is the concept of transparent and comparative analytics across non-profit social service agencies of like type. The thought is that as agencies evolve and start comparing their outcomes to other agencies, specialization would occur and collaborative efforts between agencies would ensure the best outcomes possible for their clients. Agencies would “specialize” in certain things and the outcomes comparison would show which agencies do best with certain clients. A very noble concept!
However, some of the early adopters have found that applying hard statistical analysis to a “human touch” industry is challenging. Some of the top caseworkers at these agencies have left because of this. It’s natural to not want to be compared or grouped with others of like skills, but the unique specialization and individualized type of care in social service agencies makes it almost impossible. If funding is tied to outcomes, naturally agencies would avoid the more difficult cases. So, this entire concept is still evolving and waiting this out might be a good choice if your agency has challenging cases.
As a caseworker or agency director, it’s fun to tinker with “shiny new objects”. That object will still shine as time progresses and kinks get worked out.
About the author:
Chris Freund is the Chief Technology Officer at GVT.