Is it time to review your Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) processes? You could be missing the mark when it comes to your data management and, in turn, it can be hurting your chances of receiving optimal funding. Nutmeg Consulting can help you make the most of your HMIS processes. Here’s a rundown of the different problems many nonprofit organizations and agencies run into when it comes to their own processes and how to work towards filling the gaps.
What Problems Are You Facing With Your HMIS Processes?
There are a few different, yet common, problems nonprofits face when it comes to HMIS. These can include:
Poor Data Management and Quality
Data quality is essential to your work – and to your funding. Errors here can lead to serious problems down the line. Mistakes could be due to misunderstanding the forms the agents are completing for clients, misunderstanding how to enter the data, missing valuable information, or simply typos. Any of these can snowball into more serious problems for your nonprofit.
Every year, you are required to submit your projects’ Annual Performance Report (APR), this data also feeds into the community’s Longitudinal Systems Analysis (LSA) to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). However, that doesn’t mean you should wait until the last minute to enter that data or only enter it once a year – yet some do just that.
Data should be entered regularly to ensure it’s not a last-minute annual event full of stress and, possibly, delays. This also ensures that it is reviewed properly and meets the requirements of other funding or grants you may be eligible for.
Whether you have an insufficient number of staff members or your staff isn’t trained on the processes, staffing problems could be another reason your HMIS processes aren’t optimized. High staff turnover can lead to loss of tribal knowledge and snowball. The loss of that valuable knowledge can lead to poor data quality, misunderstood processes, lack of efficiency, and more.
Only Doing the Bare Minimum
This circles back to data management. Often, when it comes to HMIS processes, staff members will only do the bare minimum for data entry. Only certain information is needed for the LSA, for example, so many teams will enter the data needed for that report and that report only. However, that could be hurting your efforts. Your team needs to be doing more than just checking off the boxes.
By paying attention to all of the data, you can become eligible for new grants or funding options. You can also look back at the information and see what’s working and what isn’t working in your organization. This allows you to make adjustments within your team to be better and more efficient in the future.
Check out our checklist: 5 Homeless Management Information System Don’ts.
What Can Happen if These Issues Aren’t Addressed?
Leaving these issues to fester can cause some serious problems for your nonprofit organization.
Loss of Funding
One of the biggest issues that comes along with these unsolved mistakes is the potential reduction, or loss, of funding. Bad or incorrect data can paint an inaccurate picture and make it seem like you’re doing a poor job with the money you received. In turn, state and federal organizations may give you less funding the following years.
Loss of More Opportunities
If you’re doing the bare minimum when it comes to data entry, you could be missing out on some big opportunities, especially down the line. Almost all grants and funding require data. If you become aware of a new grant, but don’t have the accurate data input or are lacking it completely, you could be ineligible for the award.
How Can You Fill the Gaps in Your HMIS Processes?
There are two ways you can start to work to fill the gaps in your HMIS processes.
No matter the work, training is essential to ensuring employees know what to do and how to properly perform their job duties. And training, although valuable for onboarding, is not only for your newest hires. Your veteran team members can attend training modules to get caught up to speed, review their responsibilities and duties, and learn about the newest processes and information that will help them perform their jobs.
Training also helps to ensure everyone is on the same page and doing the same things if their responsibilities overlap. It removes confusion from the table.
More efficient processes, thanks to training, will lead to another benefit: better staff retention. It’s been shown that when a nonprofit focuses on efficiency, employees stay longer.
Documentation is a must-have when it comes to your HMIS processes. It’s a good idea to familiarize your team with the documents during training, but they also need to be available during the course of their work if they have a question about their duties.
Manuals, example forms, and checklists can help your employees be sure they’re following the correct processes at all times during their work. If they have a question about a form, they can pull out the references. If they’re unsure about the checklist for monthly reports, they will have access to it. This documentation should also contain contact information in the event of issues or questions.
Outlining the steps and valuable details will help your entire team increase efficiency, improve productivity, and eliminate headaches. There will be much less scrambling for the necessary information to do their work.
How Can Nutmeg Help with HMIS and Data Management?
Our team can help ensure you have the training and technical resources and assistance you need to perform your work to the best of your ability. Nutmeg focuses on helping your nonprofit organization or agency with streamlining processes, increasing both efficiency and productivity.
And we have experience on both sides of the fence. Not only do we have years of expertise in our current work, but many of our team members used to be in our customers’ seats. They come from nonprofit organizations just like yours, making Nutmeg unique when compared with competitors. We understand your mission, we know what’s being asked of you, what agencies are looking for, and how to meet the needs and expectations of your funders. And most of all – we have a passion for what we do. We’re invested in your work.