Maximum value from human services IT

In 2012, the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) released a 20 page report, Achieving Maximum Value from HHS IT Systems. This report, co-authored with Microsoft, summarizes challenges and and best practice solutions to transforming human service IT. 35 states replied to this association survey, including some state child welfare services. Available at:

Some will find it too general. However, it is the type of report that service, administration and technical decision makers can share in discussion.

Three major recommendations are:

  1. Remove silos; communicate across boundaries
  2. Be, flexible; respond to change
  3. Prove cost efficiency; require benchmarks and measurements

Key benefits sought by IT for Human Services include:
– customer centric systems for better client relationships, care and satisfaction
– improved self service and program access
– improved decision support across clinical, management, quality and policy

My personal favourite quote from the report:
“Most projects fail due to an unwillingness or inability to adopt and change processes and technologies or due to use of the wrong processes, such as old waterfall implementations better suited for monolithic solutions. Think iterative releases, and develop a workforce mentality that embraces ongoing, incremental change and improvement.” p.11

The report also recommends:
– break up large system developments into short term deliverables
– apply outcomes to IT projects as well as human services
– develop a vision; implement incremenatally with a road map
– focus on SOA (service oriented architecture) to extend legacy systems
– design systems so that policy wind shift do not trigger major re-writes

My advice is that every senior manager puzzled by SOA ask their IT department to explain it in everyday client service language. Then ask that IT department what they have in place for SOA.

Here in Ontario, the Child Welfare system is currently implementing an enterprise solution to case management, business intelligence, content management, and finance. Next year and beyond, CAS’s across Ontario will switch from a half dozen individual and shared systems to CPIN.

Organizational, leadership, staff and general capacity readiness are being assessed and tested. What is planned has yet to be demonstrated in practice, that is, Ontario’s “… plan to modernize the child protection system so that vulnerable kids and their families can continue to get the services they need.”


About mielniczuk

Community, systems, design, collaboration, change, evidence, Intelligent Accountability(c)
This entry was posted in CPIN, Data Governance, Healthy Systems, Web Services. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Maximum value from human services IT

  1. Jenni Conway says:

    I just found out today that you have (hopefully) escaped the agony of CPIN implementation. Are you sitting on a warm beach somewhere sipping a beverage out of a coconut? That’s what it must feel like compared to being where you used to be.

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