The Human Services sector needs technology integration.  I would posit that we don’t want, or at least I don’t want, to revisit the old application debate regarding best-of-breed  vs. single integrated application.  What I DO want is for vendors to understand that we are fully functioning businesses, and that we have standard business needs.

I offer this by way of an example.  I have spent many many hours in board rooms watching vendors demo their software “solutions” that are “tailored” to the needs of human services organizations.  Usually, somewhere in the app there is a scheduling piece.  Every human services organization struggles with scheduling—which staff is available and credentialed to work where and with whom under what circumstances and funding streams . . . .It’s complicated.  But when I asked the question about how to integrate their schedule with the one we use organizationally through Outlook ( or whatever else we used at the time–Groupwise, etc)  I got blank looks.  It seems that it never occurred to them that the same employees who need to be scheduled to provide services also need to attend staff meetings, training and education opportunities, and open enrollment meetings, to name only a few.  Why can’t they use one calendar?

That’s just one example of what I mean by integrated communication.  Human Services professionals work long hours, perform very demanding work, and do it for low pay.  On top of that, vendors seem to want to place the burden on them to manage 2-3 different schedules and keep them straight.

My vision is of a system where staff have one calendar, but that it can be managed by multiple people.  Central intake can schedule for community-based therapists through the client-centric application, HR can schedule open enrollment meetings through Outlook, managers can schedule performance reviews through the HR software, and on and on.  Other industries do this, and they are better organizations for it. 

If you have accomplished this in your human services organization, please let me know.  If you are a vendor and have ideas about how to accomplish this, or disagree with the premise, let me know.  As always, I want to listen more than I talk.