If you’ve ever put together a list of requirements for a case management system, you’ve probably noticed that some things are easier to measure than others. It’s easy to determine whether a piece of software can meet your technical requirements, whether it can store and retrieve the data types your agency requires, and whether it can import your existing data. Feature sets are more complex, but with some work, you can request capabilities in a way that allows you to compare software directly.
Unfortunately, some of the most important parts of a case management system are difficult to quantify. How long will it take to train agency staff to use this product? Is it so annoying or complex to use that your staff won’t even want to interact with it? When you bring new staff on board, will they be using this software by the end of the week, or trying to figure out how to do basic tasks?
In many ways, these questions are more important than technical requirements. If a system meets your requirements, but staff only uses it sporadically because it’s so complex, the software can actually hurt your team more than it helps. You may end up with data stored in multiple, and unknown, locations. The time lost to documenting and locating task work can translate into lower productivity for investigators.
To address this challenge, make sure to assess the difficulty of using the system in any evaluation. One way to accomplish this is to provide a fictional example case to the developer during a product demonstration, and request that they walk you through what would be required to document specific case activity, retrieve case information, and report on that information. The developer should be able to take you through their system step by step and record the data. If the system doesn’t look intuitive during a product demonstration, it’s not likely to be intuitive when it’s deployed to your entire team of investigators.
No matter how you do it, make sure that you’re not investing in a system that nobody is going to want to use once you’re done! If the product doesn’t make their job any easier, you’re likely to find yourself back in procurement mode a few years later, seeking a solution to what should have been a solution rather than a problem.
To learn more about CMTS, a case management solution designed to improve the efficiency of investigative agencies, call us at 919-600-5102 or contact us online.