No matter which case management software you’re using, or evaluating, if your strategy doesn’t include clearly defined objectives from senior management then you’re fighting an uphill battle before you even get started. There’s nothing magic about case management software. It won’t manage your cases for you, nor will it manage your personnel issues for you. People have to do that.
One of the critical keys to maximizing your investment in a case management system is to start off with a clearly defined set of objectives. Now, just because the sales rep told you the software could do all those things doesn’t mean it will do them all by itself. Furthermore, your employees are probably not mind readers. Therefore, you need to share your objectives with them. Think of the implementation and ongoing management of the system in the terms of planning a trip. The objectives define your destination. Then you’ve got to plan the route, taking into account things like fuel stops, food, potential traffic delays, rest stops, etc. Now let’s put this into case management terms.
In conjunction with your overarching objectives you need to identify the bottlenecks, or areas in your practice where you’d like to improve your efficiency. With these things in mind you need to make sure that everyone receives the proper training to use the software to accomplish the objectives. But that’s just the beginning. Now you’ve got to set expectations regarding the details and hold people accountable for meeting those expectations. You absolutely, positively must inspect what you expect. You don’t necessarily have to do it yourself. But if you don’t, you must give someone the responsibility and the authority to hold people accountable for meeting expectations. Otherwise, you end up with a bunch of busy, marginally efficient people all doing things their own way, collectively turning your case management database into a pile of junk, or at the very least a bunch of marginally useful data. And worse still, the complainers will all blame all their shortcomings on the lousy case management software you bought. You know I’m right.
One of the most common mistakes I see, regarding the implementation and management of a case management system, is the assumption that people who have the same job functions and responsibilities generally do things the same way. They do not! That means that you have to define and set expectations for seemingly simple things like how to categorize certain pieces of information. What do you call this; how do you label that; how do you know if the due date for a certain task is a critical date or just a general target? You get the idea. These are the kinds of things that shouldn’t be assumed to be universally understood. That’s why someone has to set the expectation. And, someone has to be responsible for holding people accountable. Yes, I know that’s the third time I’ve said that. It’s because I can tell you, speaking from over thirty years of management experience, the minute people know that nobody’s paying attention they’ll do things their way, which may not be your way, and may even be counterproductive.
Here’s another myth buster for you. The train the trainer approach is a horrible idea! When it comes to case management software, that method simply doesn’t work. Even if you have someone who’s really good at learning new information and teaching it to others, when they leave you’re sunk. If you really want to get the most out of your case management system, don’t go cheap on the training. Make sure that all your people get the proper training from the experts that make your software.
To recap, build the roadmap for your system from the top down. Define the objectives, set the expectations, don’t make assumptions, provide the training, inspect what you expect, and train, train, train.