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Getting IT Together

Information management for community organisations

Community service organisations collect and record huge amounts of information for performance reporting and quality assurance, as well as for managing and informing service delivery and evaluating their programs. Too often, it's all either an administrative nightmare that sucks resources from service delivery, or an elusive critical resource that often can’t be found when it's needed.

The purpose of this seminar was to introduce participants to key concepts and practices for information management. It looked at two elements:

1. Telling your story

Community organisations often consider the service delivery and quality assurance data they are required to collect for funders to be a necessary evil — an administrative millstone that, at best, distracts from the more pressing task of delivering quality services to clients. Much of this negativity is probably connected with the problem of multiple reporting that makes it such a burdensome task. This is unfortunate, because that data is gold — it tells the story of what an organisation does, documents strategies that work, shows us how we are making a difference.

In the first part of today's session, Rendle Williams from the Salvation Army showed us how well-planned IT systems and interoperable data can lead to best practice evidence-based case management to maximise client outcomes.

2. Managing your information

As well as data needed for reporting and service evaluation, direct service organisations need to collect an enormous amount of information to manage and inform their service delivery. Tracking client progress, determining eligibility for assistance, making relevant referrals… all of these critical activities rely on recording and accessing information that is often stored on pieces of paper and kept in filing cabinets. But as organisations diversify, amalgamate, or spread over multiple sites, tracking and accessing this information can become a nightmare. Lost or duplicate information causes delays and mistakes, and searching for missing files can consume an inordinate amount of workers' time.

In the second part of today's session, Richard Vines from the Children's Protection Society discussed some of the information management challenges for the community sevrice sector, and showed some of the techniques necessary to move an organisation to a digital workflow that, when integrated with an information management system, can yield huge benefits that significantly outweigh the cost and hassle of change.

Download the presentations

Victoria: The Place To Be

Doing IT Better is a social justice initiative of the Centre for Community Networking Research (Faculty of Information Technology, Monash University) and the Victorian Council of Social Service, generously funded by a foundation.
The 2009 Seminar Series is generously sponsored by Multimedia Victoria.