Foundations | Client Information | Data Entry Approaches
When access to your organisation's installation of SupportAbility is provided, it has no data in it yet and is essentially a blank slate.
In the first phase of implementation it is all about setting the system Foundations. In the initial stages of this process your organisation must configure SupportAbility so that it is specific to your organisation and the services you provide. Next, Staff Accounts are created where privileges and access is granted ahead of entering Client information into SupportAbility.
There are different approaches to entering Client information into SupportAbility. We’ve assisted many Disability Service Providers implement SupportAbility effectively across Australia and as a result, we've learned which approaches to entering Client information (data entry) work best and we've certainly seen which data entry approaches don't work so well.
This article is designed to share this information with Providers to assist deciding on the best approach to entering Client information. Each Provider will need to choose the data entry method that is best suited to your organisation based on available resources and time.
OPTION ONE: Support workers and Staff using SupportAbility enter Client information (RECOMMENDED)
Experience has taught us that the most successful implementations are those where the entry of Client records and information is performed by the end users; Support workers and Staff who will be using SupportAbility.
Here's why it works so well:
- Support workers generally have the best knowledge around the Clients the work with. They know the Client information and have the relationships with families to gather additional information if required.
- Entering Client information not only meets data entry needs, it also acts as the perfect training exercise to get Staff familiar with SupportAbility
- It gives staff a sense ownership over the process and information, and involves them early in the SupportAbility implementation process to ensure that all Staff are productive using SupportAbility as early as possible.
- Many hands make light work! Distributing the data entry work load across your work force allows you to fast track your data entry and implementation.
- If support workers enter the data, they’ll know where to access the information when they need it.
We recommend giving each support worker a list of between 2 and 10 Client records to enter and giving them a deadline by which it must be done. There are training videos in the Client Management section of the Learning Centre that will benefit the staff in performing this task.
OPTION TWO: Centralise the data entry (NOT RECOMMENDED)
Sometimes organisation's decide to centralise the data entry process to one or two people within the organisation. Whilst this may seem like a good idea, centralising the data entry process has several issues:
- Creates a bottleneck in your implementation process and slows the process down.
- Generally takes one or two people entirely offline for a longer period.
- Delays Staff from becoming familiar with SupportAbility and using it as their daily tool, and means that Staff are going to need to be trained by your organisation separately to the data entry process which will require additional time and resources.
- This approach generally creates a single person dependency that can potentially put your implementation at risk.
OPTION THREE: Outsource the data entry (NOT RECOMMENDED)
Some organisation's outsource data entry to a third party organisation or temporary Staff member, in an effort to keep all Staff working at optimal efficiency prior to
There are several issues with this approach:
- This creates SupportAbility product knowledge outside the organisation rather than within it.
- Third party organisation's or contractors/temporary Staff do not understand you clients or their data and are likely to do a poor job of entering it correctly
- Outsourcing the data entry process delays your staff from getting familiar with SupportAbility and using it as their daily tool, and means that staff are going to need to be trained separately to the data entry process which can take additional time
- Outsourcing the data entry process creates a point of failure and dependency on an external organisation that can potentially put your implementation at risk.
Data Entry Tips and Tricks
Determine what Client information needs to be entered and available in SupportAbility
If your organisation has been operating for many years, it may not be practical to enter and upload all data relating to the Client as this would not be feasible.
When deciding what Client information needs to be entered into SupportAbility, we recommend performing a basic cost-benefit analysis. Determine how often Staff will need to reference historical information, and if the answer is rarely or never, then this really doesn't need to be entered into SupportAbility.
Our recommendation is that Client data meeting either of the following criteria is entered or uploaded:
- The information is current and relevant to the Client.
- The information is still accessed and required on a regular basis.
Figure out where your Client data is currently stored
This may sounds like stating the obvious, however, it is important before the process of entering Client information begins, that Staff know where all of the relevant Client data is stored; which information is the most up-to-date, and which formats that information currently exists in.
If your organisation has hard copies of documents for example that require uploading to SupportAbility which are not already digitised, Staff will require access to a scanner so that they can convert the hard copies into digital formats.
Create an example Client record
It often works well to create an example record that Staff can use as a reference point. Set up a new client record and enter the information your organisation requires Staff to complete and leave empty the fields that are not required. This becomes a great reference tool for Staff.
These records come in handy as they can be used not only as a reference point for Staff, but also to test out certain features and functionality as your organisation progresses in your SupportAbility implementation.
Create 'shell' Client records
Another good way to help Staff get started with this process is to have an administrator create all of the Client records' 'shell' - entering the first name, last name, and date of birth for each Client only.
A bookmark could then be added and assigned to the Staff member tasked with entering more comprehensive Client information. When the Staff member logs into SupportAbility, they will see the records they have been allocated for completion on their dashboard.
We have seen this approach work consistently well.
In every organisation, there will be Staff with more computer experience and confidence and of course those with less.
Under these scenarios, we recommend setting up a buddy system where Staff with more advanced computer skills pair up with those who are perhaps less confident to help them with the task of entering Client information as well as becoming comfortable with using a web browser and SupportAbility.