Top 4 Challenges Faced By Employment Service Providers in Ontario
Employment service providers working under Employment Ontario are executing the most comprehensive workflows compared to any other government funded program. There are policies and guidelines defined by Employment Ontario that agencies have to follow. The story gets even more comprehensive with the introduction of CaMS in 2010. CaMS is essentially a case planning and results reporting system. The system is fairly complex if we compare it with the level of computer expertise of an average service provider’s employee. Good news is that the new version of CaMS with some revised interface designs shall make it comparitively an easier system. But it only solves a small part of a bigger challenge.
The challenges faced by the service providers are strategic, technical, and operational. This article sums up the challenges into 5 major categories:
1. To Enhance Agency’s Productivity
In the efforts to improve productivity and quality of services to the clients, agencies have been defining the checklists, forms, and third party and in-house software. On the average, there are around 50 paper based forms that are filled during the services life-cycle. There are on the average around 5 third party or in-house developed software employees need to be trained in order to execute their work on the daily basis.
Senior management is facing challenges in managing the operations effectively because of the lack of data related to agency’s operations execution. Management has to put lot of effort in Excel after collecting and importing data i.e. mostly collected manually or entered in CaMS by the employees. Even putting all the available data together, it does not paint the full picture.
Under these circumstances, setting the targets of improving the operational productivity to the next levels is a daunting task.
2. The Void – CaMS Covers Case Planning & Reporting – That Is Not All
As soon as a client enters the doors of an employment agency, there are numerous operational areas that are needed to be handled outside CaMS. There is no facility for the unassisted client services to be managed inside CaMS. Then execution of the service plans is done by each employee following agency’s internal practices. There is no support in CaMS for Client or Employers relations management. The list goes on…
3. Build vs Buy – An Employment Agency’s System
If you are in the process of deciding build vs buy or you have already taken a decision. The following two paragraphs can help you save lots of efforts and money.
Do consider the following points before you make a decision of building the software in-house:
IT Team is Not For Software Development
It is very important to understand that IT and software engineering are two different expertise sets. The role of IT is to make sure the hardware infrastructure and software applications are in good shape and there is the least possible down-time during the working hours. On the contrary, software engineering is a science of defining, designing, building, testing and maintaining a quality software system. Running a software development project with IT team leading the project is most likely going to fail, sooner or later.
Hiring a Software Development Team
It is very important that you hire a team of experienced software development professionals, the subject matter experts, a software project manager, at least one resource with software quality assurance and quality experience and at least one resource with software configurations management experience.
Maintaining a Software Team
Software system is like a living being. Once it is created, it has its life cycle. You should at least keep one or two team members for ongoing software maintenance and upgrades. Specially because of high turn-over in the software industry, you need a back-up resource just in case one resource leaves you still have one to keep the system moving.
Do consider the following points before you make a decision of buying the software from a company:
Define System Needs
Before you even start looking for any system. It is strongly suggested that you write down your needs in a formal document and assign the weight and priority to each need. Try to involve each stakeholder/department in the agency in the process.
Buy a System That Fulfills The Defined Needs
Mapping your needs with an off the shelf software will help you estimate to what extent the software is going to address the agency needs.
Every organization is different and you may need to customize the software according to your needs, if not upfront may be down the road. You should make sure that customization can be done in a cost-effective manner.
4. Lower Budgets
Employment agencies working under EO usually have the budgetary constraints. It creates a checken and egg situation there. Good software are expensive and agencies usually doesn’t have the budgets to buy them.
The answer for low budgets is to adopt a mature software. The cost of the software is lesser if cloud version of the software exists. Also, make sure you have the software customization facility offered by the vendor.
Employment agencies need a software solution that is built grounds up with the employment services and possibility of integrating other programs needs in mind.
The solution that is designed and built keeping in view the lower level of computer skills users. The solution i.e. integrated with CaMS data and stays upto date with the latest CaMS releases.
The maintenance cost is minimum as you don’t need to retain software team, for any minor or major customization. For minor customization, you could hire a resource on hourly basis and for larger assignment the resource could be hired for the required period and once the job is complete you let the developer go.
The clients’ data is always retained within Canada.
The solution that is capable of managing multiple site locations and covers all the workflows around the case managers, job developers, resource and information employees and management.
In short you need a solution with cost-effective pricing that covers all the voids in the existing operational workflows management of an employment agency.