As it has for every kind of enterprise, software for human services organizations has developed prodigiously in a few short years. Volunteers and workers who confront disease and deprivation on a daily basis, however, are still ill-equipped to defeat these enemies which drive their efforts and guide their missions.
As you consider the range of options available to suit your organization's purposes, there are some fundamental questions that should be answered. Features can vary dramatically, offering divergent functionalities and many degrees of user-friendliness. Read on for a better sense of the software choices available to support your organization.
4 Key Advantages of Software for Human Services Organizations
The technologies in common use by human services organizations have consistently been decades behind those in other fields. Widespread adoption of software applications for essential processes has been a long time coming, putting the most vulnerable people in society at greater and greater risk. Providers increasingly need real-time access to data regarding their clients as well as internal matters, and so software solutions are constantly updated to meet the evolving needs of human services organizations.
Besides the gains in efficiency that the right software brings to your organization, other advantages include:
- Cleaner, more reliable data resulting from fewer manual processes and reduced likelihood of human error
- Analytics to provide actionable insights on your clients, staff, funding sources, and more
- Less paper and material infrastructure to maintain, creating less cumbersome and more sustainable processes
- Improved user experiences for everyone involved — your staff, administration, and your clients
The increased visibility into your internal resources made possible by software also leads to fewer interruptions for your staff in the event of shift schedule changes and work absences. However, considerable contrast exists in the available types of software for human services organizations. Before wading into individual software options, your organization will want to come to a decision on a fundamental question: would an on-premise or cloud-based solution serve you best?
On-Premise vs Cloud-Based Solutions
A primary reason for making software integral to your organization's infrastructure is the convenience of having a central server reachable from multiple devices. When several people can access and use the same tools and data simultaneously, the benefits are manifold. And yet, on-premise software solutions are confined to the hardware that you have at your location, meaning that anyone wishing to use it would have to be at the office to gain access.
Cloud-based software, on the other hand, is not confined in that way. Coming in three types — Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS) — this kind of solution allows for remote, real-time access by workers in the field. In addition to this notable difference, other aspects of cloud-based and on-premise applications further distinguish themselves from each other.
Ease of Use
Consistent with being more accessible to remote users through existing mobile devices, cloud-based software for human services organizations often provides easier user experiences. Many advanced solutions, both cloud-based and on-premise, require the employment of software developers at some point in the process.
For the sake of convenience, you may choose to avoid that scenario, even if it means a slight loss of autonomy over your system. The dichotomy of convenience and control often necessitates a preference for one over the other. However, options do exist for organizations seeking a user-friendly solution that still affords them ample control.
Historically, software for human services organizations has been on-premise. On-premise applications have carried a reputation for being more secure than cloud-based ones, given their insulation within native environments and limited contact with outside software. However, as advances in cybersecurity bolster the integrity of cloud-based applications, more and more organizations are opting for Iaas, PaaS, and SaaS solutions to help them run their operations and protect their data.
Of no small significance is the need for software integration. On-premise applications are notorious for being more difficult to integrate with third-party software than cloud-based options. For maximum interoperability, you'll want a program with application programming interface (API) capability, enabling integration with other software and providing your organization with greater user accessibility. The ability of cloud-based solutions to integrate varies, although they generally offer greater adaptability than on-premise choices.
The Various Needs of Your Organization
Whatever solutions you consider, the software for your human services organization must conform to its specific needs. A social services provider may just require a simple case management program, while a larger entity may need a customer relationship management (CRM ) system to aid with marketing in support of their business operations. Different organizational needs call for different software features, and the various kinds of human services organizations often have different needs.
There are three basic categories of human services organizations: nonprofits, private sector, and publicly funded or governmental agencies. Although they demand generally similar capabilities from their software solutions, every organization has its own unique necessities. Let's take a closer look at these.
Because they're often focused on fundraising, nonprofits benefit from ensuring that their software solutions help with that particular aspect of human services. Solutions that place emphasis on applying for grants, as by providing speedy access to reports needed for applications to grant providers, would likely be advantageous to this type of human services organization.
Private-sector organizations or practices may also seek robust functionality in aid of fundraising. In addition, they will likely find themselves in need of hefty CRM capabilities in order to reach their various client bases. Software for human services organizations can also include features for human resources, reporting, training, and more, making it attractive to enterprises that need to stay competitive.
Government and Public Sector Agencies
Publicly funded entities and government agencies dedicate considerable portions of their resources on ensuring their compliance with all sorts of standards, including those that are legally mandated. Such organizations would benefit from software that leverages a configurable data model to help them support compliance with these standards. Additionally, these organizations would probably seek solutions that facilitate intensive auditing processes. Government agencies often utilize hearty mixtures of software, and so would likely prioritize integrability when considering solutions.
With the wide variety of different human services comes a broad selection of software for human services organizations, each solution offering its own strengths and weaknesses. By determining the specific needs of your organization, the appropriate solution will have a much easier time finding you.
Want to see how For The Silent, a non-profit in East Texas is using the Casebook platform to streamline their operations and improve collaboration and grant reporting?
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