The State of America’s Direct Support Workforce Crisis 2022
With a little bit of strategic planning, a technology investment can propel an agency’s operational effectiveness higher than ever before. After all, software solutions are designed to reduce manual labor and trim costs. But many providers do not take advantage of all the benefits technology can offer – they simply reach for the lowest reasonable standard of efficiency and operability. By doing this, they guarantee themselves a low return on investment.
Many organizations use technology for basic functions like accounting, HR, and payroll. While these functions are necessary, they do not deliver results like optimal workforce deployment, maximizing service levels and billing outcomes, and driving productivity across the agency. To achieve these results, providers must understand how to maximize their workforce management technologies.
Providers can maximize their tech ROI by following three simple steps:
1. Integrate your data.
One of the biggest hindrances to ROI is the lack of effective integration and reporting across different software platforms. The following are all too common among providers:
- Paper forms and spreadsheets to supplement partially automated systems
- Time and attendance that integrates with payroll but not billing
- Time and attendance for staff but not clients
- Separate systems for staff attendance and overnight check-ins
- Two separate systems for scheduling and time and attendance (Imagine what this does to a provider’s chance of minimizing overtime. Plus, each time a manager has to learn another system, productivity takes a dive.)
- Lack of timely metrics like variance to schedule, budget, authorization, etc.
- Multiple unintegrated software platforms with a high cost of ownership
For example, MITC worked with a provider who was using one system for time and attendance and payroll, another system for HR, another for scheduling, another for overnight check-ins, another for electronic health records, and paper forms for client attendance in day programs. A manager at this agency needed to learn at least 4-5 systems, while administrators had to know all six.
The provider solved this problem by consolidating most of the applications into one integrated workforce management system that integrated with its existing payroll and EHR systems. After the consolidation, the provider paid less for its workforce management solutions and managers only had to learn two applications, while administrators only had to know three.
Providers need to focus on technology that integrates strategic, related functions in one platform. This minimizes training costs for new hires and increases productivity. Also, integration is critical for accuracy whenever data needs to be combined or compared.
2. Gather strategic data.
One of the best features of technology in the workplace is its ability to gather timely, strategic data. Organizations can analyze their data to make informed decisions about scheduling, management, and other pivotal areas. But not all data is useful. To maximize your technology ROI, figure out what data can help your organization reach its goals and forget the rest. Then track that data and review it regularly.
Key metrics for providers are usually associated with payroll, billing, and productivity. Examples include but are not limited to:
- Overtime percentage of payroll
- Unit hours vs. budget
- Utilization of client authorization
- Profitability by client
- Billing vs. payroll hours
- Attendance vs. schedule in day programs
- Time and attendance compliance
Many providers don’t have this data available quickly enough to affect operational outcomes. For example, if you learn from the General Ledger in May that overtime rose 2% in group homes during April, it is too late to affect April’s costs. On the other hand, more detailed reports based on real-time data could help you catch patterns in the group homes before overtime occurs. You can then change schedules as necessary to avoid extra overtime costs.
3. Evaluate compliance.
Workforce management technology is only effective if it is used properly. A time and attendance system, for example, will not provide real-time insight into overtime if employees consistently forget to clock in. Similarly, scheduling software is not worthwhile if managers don’t use any of its functions to create effective schedules. The simplest way to maximize your technology ROI is to ensure employees know how to use the technology and recognize that it improves productivity.
A common reason for non-compliance is that employees have to learn to use too many software systems, which ties back to consolidating software solutions. Another reason is that employees are not comfortable with change. To address their hesitations, help them understand how the technology helps them in their individual roles. Show staff in the payroll department how many hours of manual data entry they can avoid and explain to caregivers how their compliance helps their clients receive more quality care.
10 Factors to Consider for Technology Investments
Considering new workforce management technology? Technology’s potential for a good ROI is based on a combination of factors:
- Productivity: Does the technology investment allow your organization to increase the number of consumers served with the same or fewer team members? Will the technology enable you to reduce overhead costs? Does the technology eliminate mundane, repetitive tasks, thus freeing up resources for higher value tasks?
- Cost reductions: Does the technology result in potentially lower payroll costs? For example, will the technology help eliminate timesheet fraud and buddy punching, or reduce over time, or minimize the possibility that service hours are provided outside of an authorized budget?
- Revenue: Does the technology potentially enhance revenue by increasing the number of authorized service hours delivered?
- Employee retention: Does the technology create a more attractive work environment? Does it allow remote work, simplify service delivery, or improve the administration of work through functionality like electronic schedules or enhanced communication systems?
- Compliance and reporting: Can the technology provide a new level of compliance and risk management not possible with previous and/or manual systems? Does the technology reduce the costs of internal performance reporting or mandated external payer/accrediting body reporting?
- Service outcomes: Will the technology facilitate better or more consistent outcomes for consumers receiving services?
- Consumer experience: Will the technology improve the experience for consumers, either through a lower cost to consumers or through a more convenient experience?
- Customer retention and competitive advantage: Are the changes brought to your services by technology enough to enhance your organization’s competitive advantage, increasing customer retention?
- New customers: Will the technology allow you to serve new markets, such as HCBS, more effectively?
Human obstacles: Will your staff be able to adapt easily or will they require lengthy retraining or reorganization?
About Agency Workforce Management
Designed specifically for providers serving I/DD and behavioral health communities, Agency Workforce Management supports all the needs of agencies — time & attendance, EVV, scheduling, HR, workforce analytics, payroll and billing integration, and more. Visit www.mitcagencies.com or email [email protected] to learn more.