Welfare and workforce development reforms propel individual agencies into formal partnerships with one another. Collaborative Case Management is the cooperative delivery of social services to common clients. This paper describes technological tools and organization transformation issues for collaborative case management. A road map for a successful transition includes a shared vision, business/technology requirements, an information management strategy, redesigned jobs and processes, and a change management strategy.
Roadmap to collaborative Case Management
The transformation to a collaborative case management system requires a comprehensive approach to addressing business and technology requirements. In most social service agencies, business requirements are driven by legislative policy decisions. Information technology planning and implementation are based on business strategy and requirements. Table 2 summarizes key considerations for organization transformation and technology initiatives. The road map described above applies to agencies wanting to use all of the tools and techniques described in this paper, as well as to those agencies attempting only a portion. Successful projects allow adequate time for a planning and assessment phase because rework costs far more, in terms of dollars and momentum, than building from consensus and strategy.
The technology and business transformation components are interdependent. To implement only one will result in lost opportunity at best, and possibly in failure of the initiative. At the same time, people need to see action and celebrate success if they are to sustain their commitment to a new collaborative case management model. Therefore, leadership requires long term vision with a series of success points. We are familiar with the efforts of several states to move to a collaborative case management model for social services delivery. The technology used or planned for in these initiatives varies widely. Most partnerships want to use an electronic government approach, however, they need to leverage their current technology investment. Therefore, collaborative case management technology investments need to maximize use of current technology while enabling increased use of the Internet. Compliance with the Workforce Investment Act has been the strongest motivator for adopting a collaborative case management model.
States faced a July 1, 2000 deadline for implementing their One Stop initiatives. However, we also find that some states, counties, and localities have been using a collaborative case management model for quite a while. These efforts have often been informal and face tremendous policy barriers. The lessons learned from these earlier attempts suggest that once social workers from different agencies begin to work with and rely on one another on a regular basis, many of the change management issues discussed in this paper become much less significant. For instance, many partnerships report that their clients are very willing to sign release of information waivers because they see a benefit to themselves. We also find that partners respect each other’s service delivery approaches and often revise procedures based on experience with another program’s better way of doing certain activities. Collaborative Case Management is the cooperative delivery of social services to common clients. Electronic tools and organization transformation techniques support multi-agency partnerships in their efforts to integrate service delivery and to allow clients to enter the service delivery system anytime, anyplace.
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