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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 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 Monday, January 7, 2019 by Team Northwoods

9 Can't Miss Conferences for Human Services in 2019

Editor's note: This post was originally published on January 15, 2018, but we recently updated/expanded the list. New conferences for 2019 are denoted with an asterisk.

New year, new opportunities! If one of your 2019 goals is to keep your finger on the pulse of key issues, trends, and topics impacting your agency and/or community, industry conferences are a great way to get started.

We've vetted and attended a lot of conferences over time, and we like to start each new year with a list of recommendations. This list represents events that not only have amazing programming and speakers, but also build in time for attendees to network, share ideas, and discuss how they're addressing key opportunities and challenges.

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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 15, 2017 by Michael Littman

4 Tips for Financing Human Services Technology Projects

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

One of the most significant is ever rising costs to manage—and ever decreasing dollars to fund—expensive technology-related projects.

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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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Posted Tuesday, June 6, 2017 by Rich Diers

Call to Action: Improving IT Procurement in Human Services

Government’s IT procurement process is under fire.

For starters, it’s rigorous, antiquated, and time-consuming—a sentiment that rings true whether you’re the program administrator requesting technology, the state official managing access to the technology, or the provider, like us, working diligently to get your technology in agencies’ hands to help them help others.

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Posted Thursday, January 12, 2017 by Team Northwoods

7 Can't Miss Conferences for Human Services in 2017

Editor's note: While the conferences on this list are still excellent, there's a newer version of this blog post you may want to check out instead. View the most recent list here.

Two key themes arise whenever we talk to customers about how they stay up-to-date on the key issues and trends impacting their agency and community:

  1. Peer conversations and idea-sharing
  2. Industry research and best practices

One of the best ways to get a double dose of both? Carving out time to attend conferences and events that not only have really amazing programming/sessions, but also build in plenty of time for attendees to network and discuss how they’re addressing key opportunities and challenges.

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