I started my university studies in computer science but ended up switching both the university and major to study social work. While they seem worlds apart, I have drawn from field work experience from both of them in my everyday professional life. The work I do now in product management within social care information system development, means I get to work at the intersection of the two professional areas that interest me most.
While not traditionally seen as areas that would combine, it is very rewarding to take advantage of experience from both social work and ICT and put them to good use. Training and work experience in the field are of significant benefit in the design of social care customer information systems while the ability to visualise technical possibilities and requirements helps considerably. A perfect example of this is the formulation development proposals which is naturally easier for software developers. Indeed, my job is often to act as an interpreter between the social work and information technology worlds.
The most important function of a customer information system is to make everyday life easier for professionals and enable them to focus on their core work. Workflows must be logical, service processes must be easy to navigate and flexibly implemented, and quantified recording must be natural and valuable. We know that when work basics fail or impede progression, job satisfaction decreases. This in turn is reflected in the daily lives of both the organization and those accessing social care. Valuable resources should not be wasted fighting tools.
Close customer cooperation and industry expertise are paramount in addressing challenges and improving functionalities. We strive to design user-friendly packages that take into account the needs and wishes of the end user, and this is one of the major goals and outcomes from the current testing of our next generation Lifecare customer information system. We are working closely with our customers, social welfare professionals so we can work together to make the system meet their specific working demands.
While extensive projects and reforms concerning social welfare have been numerous in recent years, successful implementation of change is not easy, especially in a sector where the balance of resources is often tight. Projects including the revised Social Welfare Act, the client data archive for social welfare services, and formal registration and the reform of service tasks have all been put forward to varying levels of success.
I have been fortunate to be able to see up close a number of large projects which our clients have implemented against tight deadlines. As a system supplier, our expertise in social care in general and specifically in future national reforms and interpretations of laws and guidelines has played a critical role in these projects.
While major reforms are primarily changes to an organization’s operating culture via the modification of processes to support operations, they must include and consider employees. Without the opportunity to influence the direction of change, information and training provided to employees will not be successful. In reality, the information system is only one part of a large whole, it is not the core.
Information systems contain vast amounts of data and the challenge for the near future is to understand how we can better use this information. Critical questions must be asked, and answered: is data only collected for archive purposes or for review at meetings? Is it used to develop activities, or can it contribute to better understanding the effectiveness of existing services?
The good news is, we don’t have to wait until the future to answer some of these questions. Our reporting solution, Fakta provides a wide range of information and when used to full potential, the data analytics could enable the targeting of early support services more efficiently than ever. Importantly, data can also contribute to identifying and preventing possible future problems.
We know there is already a wealth of information, but it should be harnessed in an effective way that contributes to the development of social services. We continue to work with projects that have been launched at a national level, bringing our expertise to the table to further enhance social care service delivery.