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Best Practices for Human Services Case Management on Salesforce with Community Housing Partnership

By December 19, 2016

By: Jesse Maddex, Human Services Account Director, Exponent Partners

Homelessness is a pervasive problem, and it hits U.S. families hard. Our client Community Housing Partnership (CHP) helps San Francisco families and individuals break the cycle of homelessness, housing nearly 250 families and over 1,200 single adults primarily in the Tenderloin and on Treasure Island. During Homelessness Awareness Month this November, CHP reported that the percentage of families in the homeless population had grown from 1% in 1980 to an estimated 37% in 2014, with 1 in every 30 children in the US experiencing homelessness on 2013.

CHP has a strong results orientation and continually finds new ways to deepen impact on the 1,500 clients they serve annually. The services they provide include high-quality supportive housing and comprehensive programs like employment and health.

Data from their case management activities are crucial to driving results. Recently, CHP evaluated how they could strengthen the foundations of their case management, increase organizational capacity, and further refine how they serve families and individuals with the aid of a new system.

CHP originally used a legacy system with paper-based documentation for all client encounters. “Our data entry clerk hand-entered over 700 forms each week,” noted Jamie Schecter, Evaluation Analyst at CHP. The data did not make it back to case managers in the field, so they were not able to leverage it to inform their work and tailor client interventions. The system also proved challenging for data analysis.

CHP made a list of key needs for their new system:

  • Cloud-based, to allow access by case managers and other staff at all of their sites
  • Human-services case management focused
  • User-friendly to allow for a wide variety of technical skills
  • Flexible for their multiple programs
  • Transparent to allow them to better understand their reporting

To meet these criteria, they ultimately settled on Exponent Case Management based on the Salesforce platform.

Why Salesforce for Case Management

Our team at Exponent Partners developed Exponent Case Management by leveraging 10+ years of experience building Salesforce solutions for human services agencies. In our work, we recognized that human services organizations had very specific needs which weren’t being met by the outdated legacy technology available to them. Agencies wanted to track more than just compliance data. They wanted to track long-term results for their clients across their numerous and varied programs in the same system.

The flexible Salesforce platform is ideal for modern case management needs. It can accommodate functionality for multiple programs, integrate smoothly with systems of partner agencies, support the automation of workflows, and much more. The platform is also accessible to any modern device and browser. Finally, for organizations that have few resources for IT, Salesforce gives human services agencies the capability to manage and evolve their own system without deep technical knowledge.

Case management systems are core to the day-to-day and overall mission success of agencies, so we’ve developed a set of best practices that ensure a Salesforce case management implementation goes well. CHP was a great example of an organization that took all the right steps!

Getting Started with Case Management in Salesforce

CHP observed the following practices to ensure a smooth implementation project and a successful system:

    1. Map Process Flows. This is a critical starting place. How do your clients enter your program? From there, what is your enrollment process to case closure? Understand your processes and program model, and be able to articulate how you’d like to see them work in a system.

    2. Leverage Existing Human Services Core Practices. Your agency is unique. However, there are trends and commonalities across agency case management, like screening and intake. Make sure to select a case management tool that incorporates these core practices, while allowing you to maintain flexibility. Don’t reinvent the wheel where possible.

    3. Tailor your System. Where does your agency diverge from the standard? Is it your program model, certain processes or services? Choose a customizable platform like Salesforce, which allows you space to modify your system based on differing needs.

    4. Make it User-Friendly. Make sure your system’s user interface (UI) is supportive of the most basic user. It should be simple, straight-forward, and uncluttered. Salesforce offers the option to remove extraneous objects and shift locations to be more intuitive, and Exponent Case Management has been designed with years of case management best practices. Your UI should streamline case manager work, not hinder or burden them.

    5. Plan your Launch and Adoption. System launches and adoption by your staff require careful forethought. Among the key steps that CHP took were an assessment of staff technology skills, staff training over time, the enlisting of power users, multiple types of user feedback collection, and a pilot of their system at a few sites before a full rollout.

From its new system, CHP is seeing an increase in focus from its case managers on the work that truly matters, helping them move the needle on impact. “They can easily record a service or start a service plan,” says Schecter. “There’s a condensed intake process. Case managers can focus more on the relationship and less on data gathering.”

For more details on how CHP implemented and adopted their system, watch their presentation, Exploring the Future of Case Management: