Tips for Choosing the Right HMIS Software

Choosing the Right HMIS Software
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Choosing the right software for homeless management housing is the first step in successfully housing those in need, whether due to natural disasters or those needing to escape domestic violence. This software must have the ability to handle all the various operations related to assigning homes and make it as efficient as possible. It must be user-friendly as well as intuitive. By using the right software, you can ensure that your organization is working productively and effectively.

What Is HMIS Software?

Homelessness Management Information System (HMIS) Software collects data of homeless individuals and families. It aids in providing housing and services to individuals who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Homelessness management is a service provided by companies that help people find shelter in a cost-efficient manner. Providers looking to use HMIS software need to look at different options and see how they can use them within the context of their organization. HMIS software from CaseWorthy provides a raft of features, and they also state that the most valuable solutions are those that can integrate with your existing tools and processes. Essentially, they are tools that allow the user to manage the housing needs of various people in need of help. They can track spending, find out the best place to live, and create a budget based on users’ needs. 

Why Might You Need This Software?

In this modern society, homelessness has been on the rise, and homelessness is a problem that affects almost every country worldwide. Governments are constantly trying to come up with solutions to tackle the issue. One of those solutions is housing software and services. Homelessness management software is a program that comes in handy for many different types of people and organizations. This includes not just individuals, but also social service organizations, NGOs, and government officials who want to manage the flow of homeless people in their regions. Programs like this are expected to reduce homelessness by giving people timely support and assistance when they need it most. They are designed to help blend the human element with the high-tech, which is to say they are designed to be sensitive to each person’s unique needs.

Tips For Selecting The Best HMIS Software

Several factors are at play when you are in the market for these programs, most of which will depend greatly on how you run your organization. Nonetheless, some features are essential to all groups that provide help to the homeless. 

It Must Be Intuitive 

Your job is to provide homes to those in desperate need, not to understand the intricacies of how a piece of software functions. Therefore, the option you choose must be intuitive enough for even the most technophobic staff on your team. In terms of intuitiveness, it should meet at least some of the following specifications:

  • Simple user experience: The most critical aspect of a good user experience is that it should be easy to complete tasks. This means that there should be very few barriers in place, and everything should be simple. If your staff cannot navigate the program, they will not provide adequate help to the people who need it most.
  • Simple inputs should provide simple outputs: All software requires inputs to provide an output. That is to say; if you enter a location, the software might output that location displayed on a map. If the software needs complex inputs to work effectively, it has not been well-designed and might even become ineffective for your use.
  • You can see things “at a glance”: Effectively, this means that you or your staff should be able to search for data, and the software should pull up information that is easy to parse quickly.

Data Should Be Updated In Real-Time

Data is the lifeblood of any business or charity and real-time data is especially vital. It is a type of data that captures information as it happens. Data provided by these software solutions must gather information about homeless people’s social and economic information to pinpoint the best solutions to their current situation. Regarding HMIS software specifically, this might mean real-time bed management that updates as beds are filled or become available. Receiving this information as it occurs allows you to assist people who might need immediate support as soon as it happens. This could include families or victims of domestic abuse.

Information Should Be Easily Stored In A Database 

There are usually hundreds of disparate people coming through the doors of homeless shelters, and it can be challenging to remember every person and their unique requirements. Therefore, any software you opt for must have the ability to store a person’s data in a readily accessible database that staff can access at a later date. It should be secure and only accessible by those with relevant permissions as with anything regarding personal data.

Integration Of Other Services Is Crucial

Homeless management does not exist in a bubble, and there is a range of their data streams that you need to hook up to get the best results. For example, you might need to integrate it with

  • Maps
  • Financial software
  • Calendars
  • Government provided institutions
  • Research and analysis tools
  • Project management solutions
  • Messaging apps
  • Database technologies

By connecting seamlessly with other applications, you will gain access to additional data to help you in your quest to home the homeless.

The Price Should Be Affordable

Many homeless shelters operate on shoestring budgets and lack discretionary funds. Hence, when looking for this type of software, you should ensure that it is affordable or provides you with the best bang for your buck. While this doesn’t mean going directly for the cheapest option, you should attempt to get value for money from whichever product you choose.

The Software Provider Should Align With Your Mission

Although this may not seem like a salient point, the fact is that you are doing unique work that is helping people who are at their most vulnerable. Therefore, you should stay away from faceless companies that are only looking to make a quick buck out of the suffering of others. To that end, you should research prospective providers and see their reasons for why they are dedicated to creating their software. 

Choosing the right software for managing a homeless shelter can be a daunting task. There are many different programs on the market, each with its strengths and weaknesses. Nevertheless, you should research your specific requirements and then seek solutions that are tailored to your purposes.

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Jennifer Evans
President, @B2BNewsnetwork (launched Nov 2014). Content, community and analytics obsessed. Inventor @squeezecmm. Past chair, @itac_online @whiteribbon