If you’re on the lookout for a software solution for your family services organization, proceed with caution. Your choices have exploded in the last few years, but not all of your options are capable of meeting the needs of your organization or the people it serves. To identify and implement your ideal solution, it’s incumbent on you to take some steps to prepare for the change.
An Expanding Variety of Family Services Software
Family services organizations, like many of those in human services, have been relatively slow in adopting new technologies. This delay threatens to place the most vulnerable in society at an even greater risk than they already endure. With the growing need for real-time access to data about clients as well as internal matters, family services software solutions are proliferating and evolving to meet the changing needs of these organizations.
As you consider adopting a new software platform for your organization, you’ll want to stay aware of the following pitfalls that could jeopardize its success.
1. Losing Focus on the Mission
Whatever solution you decide on, your organization’s mission must remain your central concern. Software is simply a tool, and your tools should give you exactly what you need — no more and no less. Excessive functionality can present a problem to those looking for a speedy, uncomplicated process and user-friendly experiences. Unless you have in-house software developers or opt for a customized system, you’ll almost certainly be adapting an existing platform to suit the needs of your organization. This requires configurability.
Configurability enables you to adjust prebuilt software capabilities, giving you freedom and flexibility to mold a platform to your specifications. Configurable software can be purpose-built for the industries and trades they serve, providing the control needed to help you avoid paying for consulting services that aren’t included with your original purchase. With family services software that can be configured to meet your particular needs, your organization’s mission becomes a much shorter hill to climb.
2. Choosing by Price or Perceived Popularity
It’s remarkably easy to do a quick search online and pick a platform that lists high on the results page. It’s equally tempting to select your family services software based on price alone. But finding the right solution for your organization and its mission isn’t likely to be quite as simple as that. By allowing your choice to be guided by what “everybody else” does, you may be shortchanging your organization in the midst of the various options available today.
The number of web-based apps dedicated to the needs of family services organizations has skyrocketed. However, brand recognition, bold marketing, and daring pricing tactics can obscure what are actually outdated programs that come up short and don’t deliver what your organization truly needs. Letting the allure of popularity or an outsized fixation on price compel your decision can easily lead you to paying a premium for antiquated technology. This common error could damage your organization and hinder its mission.
Your organization’s unique objective imposes specific demands on whatever solution you ultimately choose. To determine what’s best equipped to advance your organization’s mission, product demos are often a vital step of the process. These valuable sessions make it possible to know if a well-known provider is offering essentially the same software that it came out with years ago, or if an unfamiliar new competitor has created the ideal app that your team deserves.
3. Neglecting to Consult the Whole Team
Adding the right family services software to your technology stack can certainly help your organization fulfill its mission. But it also makes your team’s jobs easier — from the back office to the workers in the field. Your new solution will have a definite impact across your organization, so why not include your team in the decision?
If enough people in your organization aren’t involved in choosing its new system, you may see some backlash. A unilateral approach to this process can make stakeholders feel left out, resulting in a high probability for pushback as you’re transitioning from one system to another. To ensure you’ve gathered sufficient support from those who will be using it, get buy-in from your team members by consulting with them and soliciting their approval of any software platforms you’re seriously considering.
Regardless of whatever operational efficiencies a new platform may bring to your organization, your team is liable to be unimpressed if they feel unrepresented in its selection. Since using any new software that you introduce will be an integral part of their jobs, you should regard your teammates as indispensable resources to be consulted before you reach a decision.
4. Forgetting About the Onboarding Phase
It’s tempting to think that, after purchasing your new family services software, you can immediately replace your old system. But the transition isn’t quite that simple. Platform implementation can take weeks or even months, depending on your organization’s size, readiness, and other factors. Onboarding your team to the new system is a core part of the implementation process — and it takes up a generous portion of time.
To make this transition smooth, it’s important that you select a software provider with an efficient and accommodating onboarding process. Find out how the providers you’re considering handle onboarding. How quickly can they get your team up and running on the platform? How flexible is the onboarding schedule? What will the provider expect from you and your team during the onboarding phase and other phases of implementation? These are the kinds of questions to prepare when you’re shopping around.
5. Expecting Software to Fix a Flawed Process
Cloud technology has radically changed business and information management, resulting in abundant new tools for family services organizations. However, since technology is dependent on the people and processes that govern its use, your tools can’t fix broken methods. It would be a mistake to approach your search for a new platform without thoroughly understanding this point. Bear in mind that no software solution can repair an operation with inadequacies in its people or its process.
Effective software simply takes what your organization does best and amplifies it, enhancing your clients’ experience. It saves your team time by expediting workflows, creating greater opportunities for assisting more families. But, before you pick up any new tool, it’s a good idea to review your organization from end to end. Try to identify sources of waste and address them well in advance of moving to any new system. This will help ensure the success of your new software.
Choosing new software for your organization can be a demanding, stressful process full of promise and uncertainty. With an expanding multitude of options, family services professionals need to take care in their selection, as any change will often carry long-lasting and far-reaching consequences for their organization. By avoiding common mistakes in your search for a software platform, you can maximize the effectiveness of your solution, whatever you finally decide to do.
To learn more about choosing and implementing family services software, you can read about it here.