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Small human services organizations have a tough time staying profitable. A report by Alliance (a human services network) finds that human service community-based organizations (CBOs) see low returns on investment, owing to unfavorable legal regulations.
Lacking resources, these organizations make minimal investments in technology or innovation strategies that can drive business growth.
In fact, many human service businesses make do with basic tools, such as spreadsheets, to manage daily operations. However, such manual processes are time-consuming and prone to errors, which could push you into costly litigation battles.
Fortunately, spreadsheets aren't the only option for small human services organizations. There are many affordable cloud-based solutions that help automate the different time- and money-consuming operations.
In this buyers guide, we'll explore the different kinds of human services tools, their core features and use cases. We'll also look at the top considerations for buyers when purchasing the software.
Let's get started!
Here's what we'll cover:
What Is Human Services Software?
Human services software helps businesses improve operational efficiency, with better visualization of project outcomes and centralized access of client-related information.
A key use of human services software is the automation of routine tasks such as data collection. The software has pre-built forms and survey templates that help assistants quickly capture client details. Digital surveys speed up the process, reducing errors that often creep up when agents collect information manually.
Once field agents capture client details on the digital forms, the system stores the information in a central location. This information can then be accessed on multiple devices, including tablets and smartphones.
Common Features of Human Services Software
Human services software has many features that help social service organizations engage with clients, track employee tasks and manage case documentation.
Let's look at these features closely.
|Case documentation||Document case history as notes with built-in form and survey templates; also, capture the digital signatures of your clients.|
|Membership management||Register clients as members, set their membership levels, manage their benefits and track renewals and dues.|
|Document management||Create and share a centralized library of files containing client details, legal agreements, certifications and licenses.|
|Activity dashboard||Allow employees to understand task assignments and case updates as well as communicate with their colleagues via activity dashboards.|
|Scheduling||Schedule and track client appointments, team meetings and events on a built-in calendar.|
|Billing and invoicing||Generate invoices for payments received from clients and share bills via an email or SMS.|
These software features help all kinds of human services organizations—whether a foster care home, mental healthcare center or life skill counselor—improve operational efficiency.
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Businesses should keep their organization's size and budget in mind when evaluating human services software. We've identified the three typical types of buyers and their chief concerns, expectations and requirements below:
Small private human services agencies: Generally speaking, small business buyers get very concerned about pricing and usability. These buyers want an affordable, plug-and-play solution that their employees find easy to use.
Typically, they prefer cloud-based solutions with low monthly subscription charges over on-premise solutions that demand an large, upfront fee.
While they want a simple human services tool, it must offer the adequate functionality. Must-have features include case documentation and client tracking, which are essential for automating manual paperwork.
Nonprofit organizations: As nonprofits run on donations, these buyers need human services software that offers not only member management but also member engagement functionalities.
For instance, the solution should offer built-in email marketing tools that allow nonprofits to communicate with potential donors or invite existing clients to a fundraising event.
To meet the requirements of your nonprofit organization, consider going for a specialized tool. Also, check out our nonprofits software buyer's guide to find out which features you can integrate/use with in human services software.
Large agencies and government institutions: Such organizations need to handle multiple cases as well as numerous compliance regulations at the same time. As a result, they need advanced functionalities such as workflow automation and detailed reporting.
For instance, workflow automation eases the workload of employees in large companies. You can set rules to move tasks along such as the automatic sequencing of steps for an agent to complete a new client registration.
Likewise, reporting is a key functionality for government bodies. The detailed performance reports help them handle a ton of compliance documents and track project outcomes.
Market Trends to Understand
Human service organizations are changing how they create and deliver programs to their clients. For instance, a recent study found that day care centers were using video streaming technology to let parents monitor their child's activities in the classroom.
Small businesses that adopt new technologies will gain a competitive advantage in the market. Here are four trends from our Top 10 Technology Disruptors for Small Business 2018 report that are changing the human services market:
- Geospatial and location intelligence: Analyzing location-based data could help human service organizations understand clients better. For instance, community healthcare providers can create customized programs for localities with a specific addiction trend or lifestyle diseases.
- Conversation user interfaces (CI): The use of CI technology, such as virtual assistants, can help human service organizations improve customer service. For instance, they can use virtual assistants to help clients search information on their website or client portals.
- User experience personification: Personification is a technique that involves analyzing customer details, such as their age or address, to create customized services or products. As human services organizations collect a lot of client data, they can leverage it to create personalized programs for their customer segments.
- Predictive analytics: This emerging technology benefits organizations that deal with large amounts of data. It helps businesses analyze historical data and make decisions about future prospects. For instance, nonprofits can identify the demographic that is most likely to donate or the effort and time needed to serve a specific category of clients based on past experiences with them.