Once you've chosen what program or part to focus on, articulating the process is next. Essentially, what we're doing here is breaking down the tasks that SAM and your team will do to transition clients through your program.
This isn't a one time process, but rather a step that will be repeated for each program. Hence, why we recommend prioritizing! : )
We love Tom Wujec's TED Talk using the preparation of toast to understand more complex process.
- Systems are made of nodes and links. In SAM, this is what task comes before another task.
- About 5-13 steps is the sweet spot to clearly communicate the steps in your process.
- Put each task on a sticky note, as our brains are more willing to understand and reconsider the system when it's easy to change the order.
1) What are your programs and the transitions through each?
SAM's case table is a layer or an umbrella for services provided a client. The case will describe the service and includes tasks to carry forth this service. The case is also the container for sub-processes.
These primary fields define a case for your clients.
Case Program / Type - defines the program a client is in. The programs you identified will be added here.
Case Stage - defines a step or task in a client's transition through a program.
These are separate fields for families, children, birth families and foster families.
Create a document to list your programs and under each what general stages your team uses to describe the transitions. You can do this with lots of different tools, sticky notes, a document or a spreadsheet like we have in this guide.
We're about to dive deeper.... stay with us! : )
2) What are the things we do more than once?
Within complex processes, quite often there are repeated or simultaneous processes that happen. These sub-processes can be viewed as a stand-alone process, meaning they also have a beginning, middle and end, can be classified, people are assigned to the tasks, etc.
Sub-processes can be easily identified when a task repeats or if historical tracking is needed. Being able to identify these processes will support SAM Admins in choosing and articulating the tables used in setup.
Even within a sub-process, you might identify deeper sub-processes because, it's complex.
Example A) while a family is waiting for a first placement or continuing foster care service, their home study must be updated annually. Each adult member of the home must also maintain a current clearance. We identify the home study as a repeating process and each clearance for each person in home as separate sub-process within the family's foster care case.
Example B) when a youth has a foster care case, they may have multiple placements. Their social workers will complete periodic progress reports for each placement. Here, each placement is a sub-process of the youth's case, and the progress reports are a sub-process of the placement.
Below are more examples of processes that you might have in your organization.
3) What steps transition clients through each stage or process?
Now that you have the upper echelon of case stages and sub-processes identified, it's time to list the series of steps or tasks that makeup each.
Strive to create a limited number of steps (5-13 steps) for each case stage or sub-process at first. This will support your team's learning and adoption as too many steps can overwhelm users initially and additional steps can always be added as the system is adopted.
SAM's Checklists are used to track the steps or tasks for each process. Checklists are a series of dates representing each step, as "dates" explain that not only is a task complete, but also when.
When steps are repeated in sub-processes, a multi-record table should be used instead of the case. Many of these multi-record tables are available in SAM by default, though more may be necessary to build as your system is tailored to your unique processes.
SAM's checklists are used to set due dates and assign responsibility to tasks. Forms or documents can be linked when its completion is the task. And, it's possible to add criteria to limit tasks that do not apply to all clients or situations.
As you're creating or pulling together these steps, consider:
- the order.
- when a task is due in relation to other steps.
- who's job is it to complete. This can even be the client or another someone external to your agency.
- if a document or form is completed in this step. Gather these before heading to configuration.
- if/then scenarios.
This part is no-joke, a lot of work. But, it's also an opportunity to get clear on and improve your processes. And it doesn't all have to be done at once. It's ongoing, so remember to prioritize your programs and even the processes that are most important to your team.