Relationship between RiteTrack and Disproportionate Minority Contact

When reviewing DMC aspects, in my mind I kept coming back to the issue of how much needs to be encompassed when implementing and maintaining DMC standards into a juvenile justice program. These standards incorporate assessments, evaluation, and monitoring of juveniles in care. However, DMC doesn’t only apply to youth in detention. It really incorporates all areas of youth contact within the juvenile justice continuum of care.

Example of statistical report with DMC data.

Often DMC communities may have an alternative reporting center within it. I’m curious to see how information is communicated between one part in the juvenile justice continuum of care with another part. There is the potential for an enormous amount of time to be spent creating policies that address information sharing parameters, managing confidential information, and memorandums of understanding between these organizations. Even though data points like race, ethnicity, gender, geography, and offenses seem straightforward, these would likely need to be clearly defined with consensus from members of the continuum of care.

So how can organizations or programs in the juvenile justice continuum of care address information challenges like these? Using a web-based software like RiteTrack as the single-point-of-entry tool provides the framework from which programs can support the youth and the stakeholders.

Risk Assessment tool in the solution.

For a community to address DMC, there has to be involvement from shareholders in the community.  There has to be planning and agreement on issues. Organizations must develop intervention that involves programming. Agencies need to evaluate whether the agreed upon plan is working. Finally, programs must be monitored to make sure that identified problems area continued to be addressed.  Within all of these steps, the most important area may be the collection of data because youth data is pervasive in all these steps.  RiteTrack collects data that occurs throughout all point of the juvenile justice continuum from first point-of-contact, risk assessment, community involvement, and if needed detention. In addition to extensive documentation, RiteTrack quickly generates reports and statistical data based on real-time data that is accurate and reliable. Implementing RiteTrack into operations is not just a procurement or download of another piece of software. It is a partnership with Handel IT to enhance and improve communities, not only by supporting a continuum of care, but also by creating a central point-of-entry to provide the framework to address DMC issues.

To see my most recent webcast reviewing DMC functionality and reporting in RiteTrack, click here and register to watch the recording.

 

 

Reauthorizing the JJDPA

On September 22, 2016 the House of Representatives passed HR 5963, the Supporting Youth Opportunity and Preventing Delinquency Act. This bill reauthorizes the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) of 1974.

reauthorizing-the-jjdp-webThe bill was then sent to the Senate on September 26, 2016 and read on the floor. It was placed on the legislative calendar under General Orders. There has been no movement since then. Previously, this bill was sent to the Senate’s calendar on April 30, 2016 where it stalled until after the House passed its version earlier this month.

The last time this Act was reauthorized was in 2002 and helps states and local communities serve at-risk youth and juvenile offenders. The most recent reauthorization of the JJDPA expired in 2007.

The Senate has until the end of 2016 to take action.

The Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ) described the JJDPA as “one of the most successful standard-setting statutes at the federal level and at its heart recognizes the value of citizen-driven efforts to prevent and stem delinquency. The success of the JJDPA has been supported in significant part by the national agenda-setting, research, evaluation, oversight, and technical assistance functions of OJJDP. It remains the landmark federal statute—and single most influential piece of federal legislation—providing four substantive safeguards (core protections) for youth who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.”

Sources:

Coalition for Juvenile Justice Special Federal Policy Update: http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1113093459475&ca=26c99ea5-2719-449f-abbd-64c5aed4d4ed

Congressman Bobby Scott: https://bobbyscott.house.gov/media-center/press-releases

Congress.gov: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/5963/all-actions?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22juvenile+delinquency%22%5D%7D&resultIndex=2&overview=closed#tabs

Coalition for Juvenile Justice Reauthorization of the JJDPA: http://www.juvjustice.org/juvenile-justice-and-delinquency-prevention-act/reauthorization-jjdpa

 

RiteTrack

Linking JDAI standards to RiteTrack

annie-e-caseyThe JDAI helpdesk website states, “Since 1992, the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, has demonstrated that jurisdictions can safely reduce reliance on secure confinement and generally strengthen their juvenile justice systems through a series of interrelated reform strategies.”

As you may know, I was a former Director of the Perry Multi County Juvenile Facility (a juvenile community ACAcorrection facility in Ohio) and our focus was on treatment of juvenile, male felons through a cognitive-based treatment program. I do want to point out that I am not an expert in Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) standards; however, in my current position with Handel I have become DOJ-OJPmuch more familiar with them. JDAI standards closely align with the American Correctional Association (ACA) standards and they incorporate the Prison Rape Elimination Standards (PREA) as well. Both the ACA and PREA standards are areas that I am very familiar with having completed two ACA audits and a PREA audit.

As revealed in the JDAI Detention Reform Brief Cost-Saving Approach, some of the JDAI strategies are to increase system efficiency, develop a non-secure alternative that is less expensive than detention, help keep kids out of state facilities and help explore the most cost-saving intervention for a youth. From my experience in a juvenile facility, I know first-hand the ease with which the juvenile correction community easily faults to the “Well, that’s the way we’ve always done it…” or “That’s just the way it’s done.” I was a process-oriented director and one of my skills was to always look at why we do something and if we could do it better. I think that is why I am intrigued to learn (from my exploration of JDAI) that a focus seems to be to look at problem solving differently and to focus on different options and outcomes beyond the traditional way of committing youth to detention.

However, I am not here to give you more information about the JDAI standards. I want to tell you about a software solution that can greatly help facilities recognize and implement the JDAI strategies in their communities and better manage their cases and facilities as well. This solution is RiteTrack and it is juvenile facility software that assists in 2016 JJ Reportsmanaging your facility and the youth in that facility. It is equipped with a powerful reporting module that can incorporate many of the JDAI required reports. Additionally RiteTrack can also assist the JDAI local community that is responsible for entering, collecting and generating data to address compliance with the JDAI standards. RiteTrack is a software system that tracks common functions like incident, restraint and room confinement documentation, along with common practices of treatment plans, group notes and room assignments. RiteTrack excels as a facility and youth management system while allowing you to generate JDAI data not only from a juvenile facility level but also to a functionality level that compiles JDAI data for a whole JDAI community.

I will focus on three points about RiteTrack and JDAI: generating and managing data, using data to make decisions and managing the facility.

Point 1: Generating and Managing Data

Data is an essential component of JDAI, and it only makes sense that you have to generate data as the first step before you can analyze and use that data. While JDAI encourages the person or persons who share(s) the responsibility of data generating to use the simple format of Excel, it is not the most effective or efficient method. JDAI might recommend Excel because so many people have access to it; and in a JDAI community, the data come from many different areas and levels. Data generation has to occur at the probation officer level, the court level, the community alternative placement level, detention level and other agencies such as community mental health or community drug and alcohol treatment organizations that may be involved with the youth. So there is a possibility that you have many different organizations collecting data that then have to be transferred or given to one centralized “data collector” to process and manage. RiteTrack can play a very important role in this “collection” by acting as the central point of entry.

2016 Face Sheet

RiteTrack allows youth to be entered into the system and then additional data added to the youth’s record. Once information is added to RiteTrack then it is saved and will stay with the youth throughout his/her involvement in the process, even including if the youth is placed in an alternative placement or detention. Data such as race, gender, age, geography, prior placements, prior and current criminal offence, offence type, involvement with child welfare, involvement with substance abuse treatment and length of stay in detention are all areas in which data needs to be collected for JDAI standards. RiteTrack offers all those components as standards within the basic RiteTrack system, so a youth’s record in RiteTrack can contain all this information (generated by various agencies involved with the youth) in one record in one place. Additional areas that are important such as risk assessments, which are done either on paper or in another system, can be added to the RiteTrack system so that all information that is collected on a youth is stored and accessible in a centralized data collection location. This whole set of data can be recalled or opened at any time by qualified RiteTrack users. RiteTrack is a web-based solution that is easily accessible with internet access, so long as the user passes security clearances set up in each facility system.

Point 2: Using Data in Making Decisions

We all are aware of the trends in juvenile justice to use evidence-based practices to make decisions based on data. Decisions should not be based on how we feel or what is available, but they should be objective tools to assess level of risk. JDAI suggests that we evaluate data on a regular basis (e.g., daily population counts of youth in detention, quarterly reports and continual review of the data collected such as race, gender, age and geography). Therefore, data must be gathered and analyzed throughout the process and throughout the community that is involved in the JDAI. Data analysis can help shareholders decide when and if an effective community-based alternative would be appropriate. Data analysis can assure that detention is used only when appropriate and only for those youth that are high risk of reoffending. Data can assist in determining bias in the system based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and geography, among others; and determine if there is “institutional bias” within the system. Only when we see the data over a period of time can we make good decisions.

RiteTrack allows for all data, generated by a JDAI community to be stored in a centralized location and readily available to help in the decision-making process and JDAI reporting. Such a system is more cost effective and more efficient, and allows easier tabulation of data, which facilitates a better, more streamline decision process for the youth in a JDAI community.

2015 Juvenile Admission Statistics

Since RiteTrack is also facility software, data generated from youth being in the facility (i.e., number of incident reports, number of restraints, time in room confinement, number of hours of group participation, and facility population reports) can also be used to make decisions and determine a youth’s progress while in the facility itself.

Point 3: Managing a Facility

To participate in JDAI a facility must track and report on the following: race, ethnicity, gender, age, geography, placement history, child welfare involvement, mental health, substance abuse, education, family history, housing, prior offences, probation status, offence and offence type, aggravating factors and length of stay in detention.

2014-Demographics-Report

RiteTrack tracks all of these data points. Each of these points are collected and tracked via drop-down menu options that are accessible and may be customized by a system administrator. In addition, many of these points have models in RiteTrack that allow for input of descriptive narratives. For example, tracking aggravating factors would most likely involve a short story or description of the aggravating factors. Workers unfamiliar with a youth would need to see what led to, or what is being described as the aggrieving factor in the incident entry. Therefore, through progress notes, RiteTrack tracks the number of incidents as well as descriptive elements.

Finally, in addition to collecting, tracking and reporting all the youth personal and participation data for a facility, RiteTrack also functions as a case management and facility management module. RiteTrack, as a case management system, encompasses treatment plans, progress notes and demographic information. As a facility management system it includes functions such as shift reporting, inventory management and incident, restraint and room-confinement reporting. RiteTrack complies with the common practices of attaching pictures, reports, video clips or tabulation of hours and minutes of room confinement time to the data entries. RiteTrack also provides a due process model, which is required for grievances, and which demonstrates compliance with due process related to major incidents within a facility. The RiteTrack design of both a case management model and facility model incorporated into one solution, allows for data reporting from both “parts” of the RiteTrack system.

RiteTrack offers the ability to generate data for the JDAI community while also serving its primary focus as juvenile facility software that manages a facility and the youth within the facility. Doing all this as a single software system, RiteTrack is an effective, efficient and cost-saving approach for any community and facility participating in the JDAI standards.

To see a demonstration of the RiteTrack system and to see how RiteTrack can assist your organization or community in compliance with the JDAI standards, please give me a call at 740-994-0500 or send me an e-mail with any question you may have at steve.koenig@handelit.com

RiteTrack

February 16, 2017; Addressing DMC Contact with Reliable Data from a Software System

May 17-19, 2017; Nebraska Juvenile Justice Association (NJJA) Annual Conference; Kearney, NE

RiteTrack

Thinking Differently About Seclusion and Room Confinement in Current Juvenile Corrections

My personal introduction to Handel IT and the RiteTrack software system (see my previous blog) was in no small part due to the topic of seclusion. While the topic of seclusion and room confinement is bigger than RiteTrack software, seclusion has become a big issue for juvenile and adult facilities in Ohio and across the country.

Perry Multi-County Juvenile Facility low res

Perry Multi-County Juvenile Facility in New Lexington, Ohio

As the former director of the Perry Multi-CountyJuvenile Facility, I served a mandate to provide rehabilitation to juveniles in a correctional setting, rather than a punitive punishment in an institutional setting. I firmly believed that seclusion, as a form of punishment, was detrimental to our philosophy of assisting and helping youth. In short, if you locked a juvenile in a room (seclusion), how would you expect him to reintegrate into a therapeutic treatment model without unintended consequences such as an unwillingness to engage in a treatment program? My belief is that seclusion, used solely as punishment, was counter to a treatment philosophy of engagement and making better choices. Although as a director, I also understand that there were times in which the only means of protecting an individual youth, my staff and the facility as a whole was seclusion. These issues of when is seclusion necessary, when is seclusion needed, and when does seclusion become a punitive issue are concerns that all directors deal with in our profession. They are also issues that, at some point in time, we have to give answers to for why we did what we did and why we made the decisions we made.

When I had to provide a total of the number of seclusion hours for 2013 in our facility, I believed that my total number of hours would be pretty low (fewer than 100 hours). After all, I opposed room confinement as a form of punishment. After we compiled the numbers, I was surprised to learn that I had signed off on over 300 hours of seclusion for my youth during 2013. That is more than three times my original estimation, and that high number made me re-think my role as a director. Not only had I not stayed true to my principle that seclusion had to be used on a very limited basis, but also my standard had not been transferred to my staff in a way that put that principle into practice at our facility.

In April of 2014, two months after collecting that seclusion data for the state, I watched a PBS Frontline special presentation on seclusion in the Maine State Prison. Prison Warden, Rodney pbs-solitary-nationBoufford, was actively attempting to reduce seclusion hours for his inmate population. While I understand that the inmates Warden Boufford was dealing with were much different from the juveniles I was dealing with, the topic of seclusion is still very relevant. It was very interesting to see the inmates in Maine and hear what they were saying, while also hearing from the warden, supervisors, line staff, psychologist and others who oversee them on a daily basis. I was surprised that the idea of reducing isolation was even present in a state institution with very violent and aggressive felons and a generally negative-thinking atmosphere. However, they were not only thinking of reducing seclusion hours; they were beginning to implement it. The show takes about an hour to watch, and I recommend it as an important segment for those involved in corrections.

The Frontline special and new statistics required by the state of Ohio got me thinking. Am I, as an administrator, doing enough to reduce the confinement times in my facility, and do our policies as a facility reflect our need to reduce confinement time? At our monthly supervisory meeting a few days after watching Frontline, I addressed the need to revamp our policies and procedures and to eliminate room confinement as an issue of punishment and time and as appropriate only in cases where the safety of staff and others is at risk. Our current policies were time-focused (i.e., one incident equals so many hours of confinement). Our new policies would be behavior-focused whenever youth were complying and there was no documented threat to the safety of the staff or other youth. The new policies would encourage youth to begin the process or re-engaging into the general population and everyday activities. Because the facility activities were meant to be therapeutic and if you could get the youth to engage in therapeutic opportunities, then you could begin treatment.

While my ideas were agreed upon overall, there were many who expressed reservations. I heard concerns such as the changes I championed would “harm the staff and would make youth believe that we were not serious about dealing with behavioral issues.” Some felt that if we made these changes, focusing on reducing room confinement, that “someone, another youth or a staff member would be hurt.” I listened to all of their issues and then I encouraged my supervisory staff to view the video and then come back to me with their thoughts. I also asked each one of them to estimate LS001251the number of seclusion hours that they believe we had accumulated in 2013. I had not given them our actual number, but I had used the number of 300+ seclusion hours as my example. Every single person asked gave me a number that was much lower than that. So I challenged them to watch the video to see what they are doing in the State of Maine and then to tell me why we couldn’t do the same thing in our facility. I also told them that the number of seclusion hours that they all had estimated for 2013 was a very different number than what we had actually accumulated. My point was that we thought we were doing well, but the 2013 seclusion hours showed me that as a group we had failed.

At our next meeting we addressed the topic of seclusion and this time there were very few detractors. All the supervisory staff agreed that we needed to reduce our confinement time, and that we needed also to continue to do our duty to protect the other youth and the staff and maintain the therapeutic environment of the facility. To do all those things we needed to create a balance between protection and seclusion. That balance needed to be evident in our policies and procedures, as well as in our thinking and in our implementation. We agreed that if we could create a balance, then we would better fulfill the need and responsibility for both safety and treatment.

The topic of seclusion was also very relevant in Ohio at the time. The Ohio Department of Youth Services was under federal monitoring for various reasons, and nearing the end of the monitoring the issue of seclusion or room confinement became a concern. The state began addressing how it could reduce seclusion hours of youth. In addition to its being a valid issue, it was also a requirement for “getting out from under federal monitors.” Recently Ohio Department of Youth Series was released from the lawsuit and has made very progressive and needed changes in seclusion hours.
See these two articles: Lawsuit over: Everyone won and Judge ends federal monitoring monitoring of Ohio’s youth prison system

The article above from the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports: “The state has also dramatically rolled back its use of solitary confinement – also called ‘seclusion’. An infraction that brings 8 hours of seclusion now would have been punished with 600 hours of seclusion when the lawsuit was filed, according to Cynthia Coe, a U.S. Justice Department attorney involved with the case.”

I was surprised when I read those numbers and remember having to re-read the paragraph again. “…infraction that brings 8 hours now would have been punished with 600 hours.” This was the trend in corrections in adult and juvenile systems just 7 years ago. I was amazed at how “behind” we as a corrections community were, but also pleased with how far we have come.

Looking back, I wonder if I would have addressed the issue of seclusion quicker in my facility if I had had valid data that would have given me a better understanding of seclusion hours. In the recent JDAI reporting the finding suggested the following:

“’The revised JDAI Detention Facility Standards prohibit the use of room confinement for discipline, punishment, administrative convenience, retaliation, staffing shortages, or reasons other than as a temporary response to behavior that threatens immediate harm to a youth or others,’a JDAI summary of strategies to eliminate unnecessary use of room confinement states.” -Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

The JDAI recommendations and goals also address the topic of using data to make informed and educated decisions. If I had a RiteTrack system in my facility just two years ago, I wonder if I would have been more progressive in my decision-making because of the quality data and better statistics generated from the solution to help support better-educated decisions. Because not only would I have had up-to-date and valid data for the day, months and year, but I could have been tracking the data more effectively rather than relying on an end-of-the-year report.

I believe that many of my former colleagues share my belief that room confinement is necessary, on a limited basis, especially due to the nature of the work we perform. However, I also believe that directors and administrators want to always balance the safety of the facility without violating the rights of our youth. With a balance of protection and safety of rights in our policies and procedures and implementations, we can achieve the ideal of safely treating and serving troubled youth. The RiteTrack software system can and will assist administrators in creating that balance at their facilities.

Ramsey County

Ramsey County, MN Goes Live on RiteTrack Juvenile Justice Facilities Solution

The Ramsey County Community Corrections Department went live on its new RiteTrack Juvenile Justice system in March of 2015. Ramsey County originally partnered with Handel IT after selecting RiteTrack through a competitive bid process in 2014 to replace two separate systems that had managed their juvenile detention facility and residential facility, respectively. The project was begun with aggressive goals not only to combine the two facilities onto one system, but also to analyze business processes and then synthesize them between the two facilities, convert and merge data from the two previously disparate databases, maintain accurate JDAI reporting, and integrate with a data warehouse hosted by the State of Minnesota.

“This project has been a great test of RiteTrack’s powerful security model” says Even Brande, President and CEO of Handel. “It has accomplished one of the key goals of this project which was to reduce duplicate data entry since many of the youth spend time in both facilities at different times. Yet RiteTrack’s security ensures that staff in each facility can only see the data that is pertinent to what happens in that facility, yet shares common data between the two.”

“The outcome of this project has been of great benefit to both my users and myself as a system administrator,” according to Dan Merth, the Customer Project Manager for the software implementation.  “We have accomplished all of the goals we had for the initial roll-out of RiteTrack.  Two obsolete systems were combined into one intuitive web-based design that is capturing all of the critical client information our case managers need on a daily basis, as well as the high level data our management uses to track trends and focus resources such as staffing levels.  The project was completed on time and on budget and I am eager to work with Handel on future customization and enhancements to Ramsey County’s RiteTrack application.”

Throughout the project, Handel’s standard process for implementation of a software system was utilized. This process began with business and systems analysis and was followed by a formal system design. After the design was officially signed off by both Ramsey County and Handel, customization was added on top of RiteTrack’s standard Juvenile Justice Facilities system. Data migrations and the subsequent data merge from the two legacy systems, report development, and the integration with the State of Minnesota data warehouse all happened in parallel with the software customization.

“Large and complex projects such as the Ramsey system have an incredible number of points where a project can run into problems. Especially when large numbers of tasks are running in parallel to each other the complexity of large enterprise-level systems can almost seem overwhelming. The key to project success is clear communication and synergy between the Project Managers and other key staff members on both sides. Ramsey County is a perfect case study in how software implementations should happen; it has been a huge pleasure working with Dan and his team and I am looking forward to a long and lasting relationship with their office,” said Ben McKay, Handel’s Project Manager for the Ramsey software solution.

“The design and development process went better than any other large scale software project I have been involved in,” said Dan.  Handel’s design model includes screen mockups and descriptions of each function to ensure that there are no surprises when development begins.  Additionally, Handel’s customer support has been excellent, it is nice to know that Ramsey County Corrections has partnered with a responsible vendor who cares just as much as I do about data and reporting accuracy, system functionality, and customer service.”

Ramsey County is currently pursuing a second phase to their RiteTrack project to add additional functionality to further enhance their ability to serve youth in the juvenile justice system.

“We are very thrilled to having had the opportunity to work with Ramsey County on this project” says Even Brande. “Not only are we looking forward to many years of working with Ramsey County but we also believe this solution will be a model for other communities who are in a similar situation.”

For more information on a selection of the technical processes that were incorporated into the Ramsey project and Handel’s Juvenile Justice Solution please see:

RiteTrack

Packing Up and Moving Your Data

In our age of technology and communication it is common that our customers are adopting RiteTrack after using another data management system, often for a substantial amount of time. One of the largest concerns that we deal with is, “Will we get to keep our data and will it be complete?” At Handel, we understand that historical information is invaluable to spot trends, maintain reporting requirements, and increase interdepartmental communication. That is why we have developed proprietary software to quickly and accurately convert legacy data into RiteTrack.

Our data conversion process starts at the very beginning of our project management process; Handel views data conversions as a key and central part of our software implementations, not as an afterthought. Our trained project managers begin by explicitly mapping out each column in every table in the legacy database and define a place for it to go in the new RiteTrack system. This process takes place alongside the creation of the system design so that the mapping is completed before we start developing the system in order to make certain that no crucial data is left behind. During this process your project manager will highlight areas where the legacy data may not be clean or accurate so that no dirty information finds its way into the new system.

While on the initial site visit, your project manager will sit down with you and your staff to walk through your legacy system to gain a full understanding of its functionality, how your staff uses it, and any potential difficulties that may arise in the conversion process. Since every system is different we make sure to take the time to get to know it. This practice gets to the core of how Handel does business; each project and each customer is unique and we dedicate ourselves to forming a relationship based upon communication, transparency, and honesty.

Once a conversion map has been completed and approved, the data will begin the process of being moved into RiteTrack. Our skilled developers have built software to assist us in the conversion process. Using this single core technology reduces errors, speeds up the conversion process, and lowers cost. Our data conversion experts work side-by-side with our project managers throughout the entire project to make sure that this process is as streamlined as possible.

Much like our software development, our data conversion process involves multiple rounds of testing and validating to make sure that the end product is exactly what it should be. You and your staff will be able to see and test the converted data in a sandbox version of RiteTrack, this will even include any custom fields that have been added. For larger systems this is often done in phases to ensure that nothing is missed in the sheer volume of information we work with.

ConversionProcess

Handel’s Conversion Process (Click to Enlarge)

 

We have utilized this process on databases of all sizes, from a few thousand rows of data up to millions of rows. To gain a more complete understanding of how our data conversions fit into the entire software implementation process please read Problem Solved: A Story of Vanquishing Risk and Complexity.
Finally, when the entire data conversion has been tested and approved, Handel will pull a final and current copy of the legacy database for conversion. This information will be what eventually comprises your initial RiteTrack system. At the end of this process your users will have a new, friendly, and easy-to-use software solution complete with all of the data that has been tirelessly entered by users in the legacy system.

This simple, yet powerful, methodology, when paired with our proprietary software, takes the often frustrating and error-prone process of converting data and turns it into an efficient and organized procedure. What is more, our data conversions are fully supported just like our software. If there is an issue found after RiteTrack has gone live our data conversion experts will rectify the error, often with zero downtime for users. Our philosophy for data conversions is the same as it is for building software; we center everything on our clients and their needs in our pursuit for the best product possible.

RiteTrack

Problem Solved: A Story of Vanquishing Risk and Complexity

I was told growing up that when you experience success you should act like you’ve experienced it before. Don’t flaunt your touchdown reception or first place finish; act like you’ve been there before. However, I quickly realized that there is a huge difference between simply acting like one has done something and actually having done it.

So, what does this all have to do with software implementations and case management? The simple answer is that there is a large collection of companies out there that claim to be able to take on massive projects to design, develop, and implement a large enterprise-level software solution. How should project leaders with large and complex projects choose a vendor from the plethora of options available to them?

Most people know that in enterprise-level software implementations, risk is proportionally tied to the complexity of the project. If the complexity goes up the risk does as well. With that in mind, what are we to think of projects on the extreme end of complexity? What if we are taking multiple legacy systems and want to put them into one single and comprehensive system? What if we also want to bring multiple departments together onto one single system in that same project? What if there are federal and state reports that must justify from the moment the system goes live? What if we need to integrate with other systems at the same time that everything else is happening? If risk of failure is directly proportional to the complexity of a project, should we even bother attempting such bold initiatives?

Risk and Complexity

Click to Expand

 

The answer to that final question is a resounding ‘yes’. It is worth pursuing because of the benefits that it can lead to. Bringing multiple systems together reduces complexity and duplication of data entry which, in turn, reduces errors. Having multiple departments or facilities operate on one common platform increases communication and improves outcomes for clients. The risk, in other words, is worth the potential rewards that a system that can do all of those things could bring. However, that one question still lingers… What if it fails?

This is where proven success comes into play. It is not enough to know that a company could potentially complete a project. These projects need a company that has been there before. The type of system described above with multiple data conversions, bringing previously disparate departments together on one system, reporting to federal and state agencies accurately from day one, and integrating with other software systems describes most of Handel’s customers. We have proven success on every single one of our solutions, from unifying government agencies of a Tribe to providing a system that unifies detention and residential facilities for a county.

Large and complex projects require the devoted attention of software professionals who have repeated success and a strong, standard solution. We have devoted countless hours to designing, testing, and refining each of our solutions to meet the needs of our clients with our standard functionality, whether it is for a CPS Department, Juvenile Detention Facility, TANF Department, or a multitude of other systems. This standard functionality not only brings down cost, it also lessens risk.

While most systems require small changes, we have found that our standard platform will accomplish most of the needed functionality within the markets that we serve. Completely custom solutions that are built from the ground up may sound wonderful at the beginning of a project. However, these projects are the most likely to end up over budget, behind schedule, and outside of scope. We at Handel know this because that is how we used to build software solutions. We built our latest version of RiteTrack to combat all of those things; we provide a common framework to all of our customers, thoroughly test and refine each one of our software modules, and send updates to all of our systems whenever we make something better or fix the rare bug we run into. This means that not only is your project more likely to be successful on the front end, but also that our customers never have to worry about having a system that nobody knows how to fix or update five or ten years down the road.

And what of those things that will always be custom to an individual software solution? We handle (yes, pun is intended here) data conversions, systems integration, custom reporting, attaching custom modules to our standard framework, training and system documentation, and everything else imaginable on a regular basis. All of our staff, from our sales personnel to our project management staff to our software developers, are trained to create custom alterations and additions to make our software work for you in the most optimal way possible.

Consultant

This combination of our standard software offering and our staff’s familiarity with providing insightful and accurate consulting creates a unique environment where we can reduce the risks imposed by time, cost, and scope of a project as a whole while also building a software solution that keeps your legacy data, communicates with other systems, and improves upon your organization’s reporting abilities. Handel’s ability to accomplish all of these extremely complex things comes from our more than 17 years of corporate experience and our tireless efforts to make the best standard software for each industry we serve. Our experience and work makes it possible for organizations to dream big about what their case management software can do for them.

Though these types of projects are large, complex, and sometimes even scary, Handel can help mitigate all of that. We have been there before and our customers have experienced great success using our system. Our track record shows that our methodologies, standard software offerings, and innovative technologies work. So, go ahead and dream big and know that if Handel is your partner your project, no matter how big, will be a success.