Altus Dynamics Blog

Your Human Services IT System May be Putting You at Risk: 5 Identifiers that You Should Look For

Posted by Cait Abernethy on Sep 28, 2016 10:16:00 AM


Sometimes risks are good. If people didn’t take risks, we would have far less cool inventions or extreme sports. But taking risks when it comes to your organization, and specifically the software you use to keep everything running smoothly, is a whole other ball game. If your organization is running on decades-old software, you could be exposed to risks that could be potentially devastating to your organization, your staff, and the clients you serve. And while we understand that many human service organizations operate their administration on a shoestring budget so that funding can be channeled into services, some risks are too great to take and may end up costing you more in the long run. Not sure if your system poses a threat to your organization? Here are 5 identifiers that your current software could be exposing your organization to risk:

1. You’re using an old version of software that is unsupported.

Once upon a time it was considered smart and frugal to hang onto the things you owned for as long as possible; to keep using them until they were all used up, and to squeeze every last drop of utility out of them. And while the throwaway culture that we’re currently living in is not necessarily a better alternative, it is important to ensure that holding on to old software to avoid the costs associated with upgrading isn’t inadvertently putting your organization at risk.

Many Human Service organizations are running decades-old versions of software that are quickly becoming unsupported from a service perspective, making it harder and harder to deal with and fix issues as they arise. While new software typically comes with a wide array of training resources, including webinars, videos, and other easy-to-digest guides, the training resources available for older software are typically cumbersome, or – what’s worse – exist as information locked away in someone’s head. And if you don’t have access to the individuals who are trained in maintaining this old software, you may simply be out of luck if problems arise. Additionally, as your team – or even your software vendor’s team – turns over and new people are hired, it can be hard to make sure this information is passed on, leaving new employees with many questions and no good option to turn to for help.

2. Your systems aren’t integrated, causing you to use a lot of manual workarounds.

Integration.pngWe all know the saying about having “too many cooks in the kitchen,” and this metaphor can be extended to human services software as well. If too many people within your organization are creating and using their own manual workarounds because your solutions are not integrated, then your ‘kitchen’ is at risk of catching on fire – or at the very least, at risk of giving you incorrect data. Manual workarounds that require the constant import and export of data from one system to another can result in data duplication or data entry errors, and affect the integrity of your data. Pulling data from multiple sources and manipulating it in multiple spreadsheets before importing it back into the system is especially dangerous when it comes to payroll because getting this wrong is not only harmful to your organization, but can greatly impact your employees’ lives as well.

3. Your system can’t automatically track compliance.

but_this_is_ridiculous_1538455.jpgYou pride yourself on offering valuable community services, and your funders and program standards dictate that you keep staff up to date with training and certifications in order to maintain compliance. But staying on top of certification expirations and taking into account when staff are training so you don’t schedule them is no easy feat, especially if you’re tracking this information manually or in different systems.

If your system is unable to understand and track if your staff are qualified and certified to work with the individual they’re supporting, then you are taking huge risks in your organization and with the lives of the people receiving your services or support. Many individuals receiving care from human service organizations require their support staff to have specific training in order to take care of them properly or handle difficult situations correctly. If you accidentally schedule someone incorrectly and there is an issue, this can be not only risky, but potentially devastating to your organization.

4. Your system isn’t flexible or adaptable to new legislation, making compliance difficult.

Keeping up with the constant rate of change in federal and state legislation is vastly important for human service organizations, but many old systems are extremely ridged. If new information needs to be tracked or Ministry reporting requirements change, many of these systems are difficult or unable to be adapted to accommodate these adjustments. With things such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or the new overtime laws that are being implemented in the United States, many reporting requirements will change for human service organizations as they become federally-mandated to prove a certain level of employee benefits or compliance with coverage levels. The inability to maintain, or inability to prove that they are maintaining, compliance in these areas is dangerous for organizations because they risk getting their funding pulled for not observing legislation changes.

5. Your system isn’t accessible outside of the office.

multitasking-mobile-devices.jpgThe young and eager minds that are now beginning to enter the human service workforce have been raised on technology. They’re used to doing things digitally, including using self-serve tools and accessing information at the touch of a button. Not only is this a preference for young employees, but it’s also an increasing necessity if your staff is out in the field with clients. If care workers are taking clients out into the field for things such as appointments or day trips, it’s important that they’re able to refer back to client case files. Carrying around cumbersome file folders filled with client data is not only impractical, but can pose a huge risk of breaching client confidentiality if these files are lost or damaged.


If your organization is running on decades-old software and encountering the issues discussed above, you’re taking huge risks that could be potentially devastating to your organization, your staff, and the clients you serve.

While we understand that many human service organizations operate their administration on a shoestring budget so that funding can be channeled into services, some risks are too great to take. And although funding for a new solution may not seem financially feasible at first glance, succumbing to the risks outlined above will be even more costly in the long run.

Altus Dynamics’ solution, which is built specifically for human service organizations, eliminates all of the risks outlined above by providing:

  • Extensive training resources in a variety of formats to suit the way your staff prefer to learn
  • An integrated system that allows for a seamless flow in information
  • Ability to track complex workforce information, scheduling and training
  • Flexibility to enhance and customize your solution as regulations change or your organization changes/grows
  • Accessibility to client information in the field with the confidence that your data is secure

Want to find out how your organization can ensure your IT systems aren’t exposing your organization to unnecessary risk? Take our Free 30-minute Risk Assessment to find out how you can safeguard your system.


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This Post Was Written By Cait Abernethy
Cait Abernethy is the Marketing Coordinator at Sparkrock and is excited about marketing trends, enthralled by technology of all kinds, and is interested in the ways local actions can have a global impact.
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