It’s been more than four months since COVID-19 struck throughout the United States. Since then, nearly everyone’s work lives and personal lives have changed. Plans were delayed, then postponed. States have shut down, opened, and shut down again. As much as we all want to get back to normal, the reality is that we probably aren’t going to get there any time soon.
At the beginning of this crisis, IT staff at many government agencies and departments across the country were lifting mountains to help employees do their jobs outside of the office. Where public employees were rarely if ever allowed to work remotely, they were suddenly required to do so.
Four months into this, we know it’s possible that many agency staff members will likely be working remotely for at least as long as they already have. In fact, there’s been a sea change on remote work across local, state and federal government, and it is likely to be accepted or even encouraged going forward.
Because remote work hasn’t been an option for most public employees until now, many agencies’ information systems don’t support it (or don’t support it well). Now that telework is a reality, however, it’s time to update those systems. Here are three things an investigative case management system should do if it’s going to support a partially or fully remote workforce.
The most basic requirement is that all system functionality can be accessed remotely. Logging in to the system from home shouldn’t be any slower or reduce a user’s ability to move any part of a case forward. If a case management system is more difficult to use remotely than it is in the office, remote workers will face an unnecessary productivity penalty, and they may even delay tasks until their days in the office, increasing case closure times.
There’s a natural exchange of information that happens inside of an office that helps create situational awareness among team members working on the same projects. Web meetings can only replace some of that awareness.
That makes it very important that your case management system provides information to team members as soon as it becomes relevant to them. That could be when a case progresses to a stage where a supervisor needs to review it. It could be when a case has sat dormant for long enough that it puts a deadline at risk. It might also be that a case has risen in priority due to unforeseen circumstances.
At the same time, a telework-friendly agency also means that users won’t necessarily be in an office setting when they’re using the system. As such, agencies need to be fully confident that nobody inside or outside of the agency views data they don’t have permission to view. Beyond network security, robust permissions and an audit log within the case management system itself are both key features to keep sensitive data locked away from prying eyes.
Case reports often go through multiple revisions before they are finalized. They require input from multiple team members along with final approval from a high-level supervisor. Because this happens at the end of a case, there may also be urgency to complete the task.
All of this makes it much more likely that information will get lost. Two people may open a file for editing simultaneously, and one user may overwrite the other’s changes. A person may accidentally add their edits to an old version, creating two branches of the file.
These problems can be prevented with a version tracking system, which ensures that everyone is working on the most recent version of the file. Ideally, the system will also maintain all of the previous versions as well, at least until the work product is finalized. This ensures that deletions can be restored if that content is deemed relevant at a later point.
To learn how CMTS can help your agency accomplish more from anywhere, call us at 855-667-8877 or email us at Team_CMTS@MyCMTS.com.