Benefits of a Client Management System (CMS) for NDIS Service Providers
NDIS service providers need to proactively manage overheads, cashflow and their workforce in order to meet NDIS price and compliance expectations. Add to this, they need to stay competitive in a regulated and saturated services market.
Small service providers often find they can manage their business – and customers – with isolated databases, spreadsheets and personal knowledge. However, the pressures of the industry given funding changes over the last 2 years has meant that organisations are increasingly experiencing a need to both enlarge their customer base and expand service offerings. Participants in the NDIS scheme are beginning to take control of their funding to source the services they want, where they want and when they want. This means sophisticated systems are needed to provide a favourable customer experience at an acceptable price point.
How a Client Management System (CMS) improves operational efficiencies
A CMS allows you to manage any and all information about NDIS participants; contact details, notes, NDIS plan information (including budgets and goals), and incidents, all the way through to rostering and timesheets. Looking at this in detail, you can:
- Record NDIS approved services and available funds for each client, including tracking of expenditure against these funds
- Restrict access to client details to protect privacy
- Prevent provision of un-funded services
- Automatically generate NDIS claims following service provision
- Manage rosters and roster budgets
- Ensure staff qualifications are up to date
- Automate of timesheets
- Provision staff utilisation information
- Record and track incident management
- Streamline and standardise intake and management of waitlists
- Automate invoice generation for client funded services
- Track goals and progress
All of the above can result in reduced staff travel times and costs and increased client facing time.
However, one of the biggest benefits is that you will have a single-source-of-truth; a unified system for all of your critical data points. How you use this data to monitor, manage and optimise your business has exponential, and competitive, advantages:
- Staff have access to client information when they need it
- Information about client needs and staff capabilities can ensure the appropriate staff are assigned
- Clients or their families can potentially have real time access to information, including upcoming services and remaining budgets
- Clients may be able to request or schedule their own services, and provide feedback
Choosing the right CMS
Client management systems have been around for many years. With the introduction of NDIS, we’ve tracked a 75% increase in the number of systems catering to NDIS requirements in the last 3 years. A greater volume of solutions and variations in capabilities, can make the selection process more challenging.
While it is tempting to go with an option that on the surface seems to provide you with all the functionality required for the lowest price, this does not necessarily mean it is the right choice – or best value – for your organisation.
All client management systems tend to provide the same basic functionality such as recording client information, managing NDIS plans and claims, and producing reports. However, the extent that a specific solution can assist with reducing overheads, maximising cashflow, ensuring compliance and managing workforce utilisation (typically a service provider’s greatest expense) can vary considerably.
Questions to ask before undertaking a CMS selection process:
- Where does the purchase and implementation of a CMS fit into the system roadmap? Are there other solutions that should be implemented first? What impact would those other solutions have on the CMS selection process?
- What existing or planned systems will the CMS need to integrate with? Does this influence the capabilities needed in a CMS, or the platform it is based on?
- How many clients does the organisation currently have and expect to have in future? How much information needs to be recorded about each client?
- How many staff does the organisation have, where do they work, and how will they access the CMS?
- Do you need to optimise utilisation and minimise travel for community-based staff? How can you ensure staff visiting client sites are safe?
- What services do you currently offer and what does the strategic plan include for the future? Is the organisation able to identify and take advantage of gaps in services currently available in the market?
- How different are your services to others offered in the industry? Do you need a solution that can be tailored to your specific requirements or is an out of the box solution with minimum configuration sufficient?
- Who are your stakeholders and what information do they need from the system?
- What other sectors are you operating in? Do you intend to continue providing services to your clients when they transition to Aged Care funding models?
- Which is better for the organisation – on premise or cloud? What are the infrastructure implications?
- Who will manage the project and what resources will be required?
- What solutions are available in the market? Are they suitable for your organisation? Who are their customers and what do they think?
If you don’t know the answer to any of these questions, that’s where professional advice comes in. A new system is a significant investment, and if an unsuitable solution is implemented then the costs of abandoning the system and starting the process again are even moreso.
IT projects typically have a high failure rate, and a properly managed selection, evaluation and implementation process is more likely to result in a solution that provides value for money and enables the organisation to meet the challenges of the future.