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Our blog isn’t about us. It’s about you. We discuss business challenges and real issues human service agencies and caseworkers face everyday. You’ll find traditional human services software articles about things like document management for human services and social work technology. But you’ll also find inspirational stories to boost caseworkers’ spirits and tools to help agencies find and gain support for technology in human services.

Posted Thursday, January 30, 2020 by Team Northwoods

Can't Miss Conferences for Human Services in 2020

Editor's note: This post was originally published on January 15, 2018. We continue to update it annually.

If one of your 2020 goals is to keep your finger on the pulse of key issues, trends, and topics impacting your agency and/or the community, industry conferences are a great way to get started.

We've vetted a lot of human services and digital government conferences over time, and we like to start each new year with our recommendations.

This list represents events that not only have excellent programming and speakers, but also build in time for attendees to network and discuss how they're addressing key opportunities and challenges.

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Posted Wednesday, January 8, 2020 by Rupam Chokshi

Hey Alexa, How Will Human Services Technology Change in the Next 10 Years?

For many, the new year signals a fresh start. A clean slate. The opportunity to think or act differently. What if we applied this same mindset to human services technology?

What if we stopped feeling restricted by outdated systems, processes, and policies, and focused instead on what we can do today that we couldn’t do in the past?

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Posted Wednesday, October 23, 2019 by Mark Washington

9 Tips for Financing Human Services Technology Projects

Editor's note: this post was originally published on August 15, 2017. We recently refreshed the list to give you twice the amount of helpful tips! 

Human services agencies face several hurdles when it comes to investing in technology.

Yet, even when resources are limited, it’s not impossible to come up with the money to purchase and maintain innovative technology solutions. (Plus, the short-term cost won’t seem so bad once you realize the long-term value of your investment!)

All it takes is a little upfront planning and creative thinking.

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Posted Wednesday, September 4, 2019 by Team Northwoods

The Northwoods Guide to IT Solutions Management (ISM) 2019

APHSA’s IT Solutions Management (ISM) for Human Services Conference is hands down one of our favorite conferences of the year. It’s a great opportunity to hear from experts at all levels of government about the most important IT topics and innovations impacting human services.

That said, we know ISM can also be overwhelming—especially if you’ve never been before.

We asked our team to share their advice to help you make the most of the 2019 conference, including tips for first-time attendees, sessions we suggest adding to your agenda, and of course, all the ways you can connect with Northwoods. We look forward to seeing you in Milwaukee!

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Posted Friday, July 12, 2019 by Chris Carlson

HSITAG: Bringing Positive Change to Health and Human Services

“Partnership is how we’re going to elevate Ohio to the next level.” – Ervan Rodgers, Chief Information Officer and Assistant Director, State of Ohio

In June, Columbus had the honor of hosting one of the monthly Human Services Information Technology Advisory Group (HSITAG) Public Sector Council Meetings at the iconic Ohio Statehouse.

State CIO Ervan Rodgers, along with Ohio Job and Family Service Directors’ Association (OJFSDA) Executive Director Joel Potts and RecoveryOhio Director Alisha Nelson, talked about some of the most significant IT initiatives underway in Ohio to modernize how our government delivers and coordinates services.

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Posted Tuesday, March 19, 2019 by Team Northwoods

An Essential Reading List for Human Services Agency Leaders

No matter how many different priorities human services agency leaders juggle, one thing always remains the same: wanting to deliver the best possible experience and outcomes for the families that rely on your agency’s services.

That means carving out time to research what trends, tools, and emerging technologies can have the most significant impact on the industry, as well as what can be learned from other agencies, programs, or states.

We’ve rounded up some of our favorite government, human services, and technology websites to help you get ahead of the curve. You can also follow all the sites mentioned below (and more!) with our Twitter list.

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Posted Thursday, February 14, 2019 by Rupam Chokshi

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Roses are red,
violets are blue,
technology is sweet,
but is it really helping you?

You know that technology has the potential to modernize service delivery and drastically alter how you interact with clients. Too often though, human services agencies commit to technology that doesn’t end up delivering on the value it promises.

Below is a list of questions that can help you determine if your tools and processes are providing the results you need. If not, it may be time to break up with your current vendor and explore a new relationship with a better partner instead.

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Posted Tuesday, October 23, 2018 by Rupam Chokshi

Building Better, Faster, More Impactful Solutions for Human Services

At Northwoods, we talk a lot about “designing solutions around you.” But, what does that really mean?

As one of APHSA’s 2018 Emerging Leaders, I was invited to give a presentation at the annual ISM conference showcasing something that Northwoods has done to advance health and human services (HHS).

I chose to share a methodology that is at the core of how we operate and do business.

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Posted Thursday, October 19, 2017 by Rich Diers

What Cognitive Search Means for Social Services

Not too long ago, we were talking to a protective services caseworker who summed up one of the most common issues we hear from customers—not enough time to explore, digest, and understand critical information about a case before they can actually start managing it.

"I'm new and I'm getting cases that are transferred from another ongoing worker. A lot of my time is just spent trying to understand the case. I feel like I'm wasting a lot of time I could be doing actual interactions or providing services for the family."

We also heard from a Child Welfare program manager one of the biggest risks of not having all the critical information related to a case in front of you when making a decision: "Trying to serve on memory is dangerous in our line of work."

What do these two scenarios have in common? They both underscore the importance of having critical, relevant information in a digestible format at your fingertips when serving families. Cognitive search is an emerging trend that’s helping social services agencies do just that.

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Posted Tuesday, August 1, 2017 by Greg Tipping

Pitfalls of Relying on Too Much Paper in Human Services

Going paperless is a priority for plenty of Human Services agencies, yet many organizations lack funding, resources, or proper justification to invest in technology and are forced to continue relying on time-consuming, labor-intensive, paper-based file systems and processes.

For those readers that fall into the latter, consider this: maintaining the status quo could actually be doing more harm than good—and costing more—to your agency in the long run.

Below are five risks to think about if your agency relies too much on paper documents and manual processes.

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