What To Look For In A Good Case Management System
The User Interface: Have you ever asked yourself how your staff "feels" when they use their case management program? You probably already know. Above all, users should feel "good" when using a "good" case management system. Think about it; well written programs tend to make us feel good while poorly designed applications tend to create confusion, chaos and frustration. Without question, the "end users" feelings towards their case management system will ultimately determine its value and usefulness for the entire office.
Windows Based: If you are looking for a windows case management system, ask yourself if it's truly windows based? For example, you are working in a client card and the telephone rings and you now need to get the status of another case. This probably happens all the time. Do you have to close out the current card you are working on before you can pull the information for another client card? Or, can you "flip" back and forth between 2, 3 or even 10 client cards all at the same time. This should not be limited to just the client card. You should be able to do the same thing in form letters, court forms, the calendar or anywhere else from within your case management system. Therefore, as an example, a truly windows based system will allow you to work on a form letter for the Jon Doe file, another form letter for the Jane Doe file, and a court form for the Sally Smith file all at the same time and allow you the freedom to flip between the different windows.
Windows Style Help System: Your case management system should have a complete built in context sensitive windows style help system. As an added benefit, A1-Law contains a complete manual in the Adobe Acrobat format. You may print the manual either from within A1-Law or in the Adobe Acrobat program.
Features: Many case management systems fall short in way of features. The problem with that is that it forces the user to have several different programs on their computer open at the same time. This can complicate case management in many ways including true integration, ease of access to information, and future compatibility.
At a minimum, your case management system should have a client card, calendaring, rolodex, case activity, form letters, task management, user defined fields, Email, and reports. This is only the beginning. What's more important is how powerful these modules are and how they are integrated with each other.
Many other modules should be integrated in the case management program including administrative rights and system and staff security access levels. Each and every feature must be efficient and complete. For example, form letters and court forms can be either quick or cumbersome to create.
One should be able to create standard form letters as well as dictation "blank letters." In blank letters, one should be able to press a button and automatically have the date, client or party, caption and salutation appear at the top of the letter and the closing at the bottom. They should then be able to type in the dictation or use a voice recognition program to have their dictation inserted automatically. All of the forms should be saved automatically and be easy to call up at the click of a button. Any information in the case manager should be able to be automatically inserted into a court form or form letter. This includes user defined fields. User defined fields should appear only in the type of cases specified. For example, you should not see a personal injury user defined field in a workers' compensation case. Further, one should be able to run reports off of user defined fields. This is only a small preview as to what you should expect in way of features in a good case management system.
Many of the features above are either missing or totally incomplete in most case management systems. This is unfortunate considering the vast amount of time staff puts into their case management system. But, on a positive note, A1-Law has the qualities listed in this section that a good case management system should have.
References: Be sure to talk to other offices that are utilizing the case management program you are considering. It's not enough to simply see a list of references since the list could contain several offices who are not satisfied with the program they are using.
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