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  • Ryan Brooks

Minimum Requirements for Human Service Case Management Software

Updated: Jan 23

How to pick case management software for your nonprofit

Human Services nonprofits have numerous options for collecting case management and services data. You can stick with paper files, enter data into spreadsheets, or use Google Forms. You can also use specialized software to help you track your programs and outcomes. If you’re thinking about the service tracking software, then you’ll have to weigh the price, features, and ease of use against your organization’s current and future needs.

Side Note: This software goes by lots of names including, and that's a problem. You might call it case management software, outcome tracking software, client management software, nonprofit impact measurement software, or something else. Your best bet is to start by searching "Human Service Case Management Software," to get the most relevant results - even if you don't do case management!

If this is your first time shopping for case management software, keep these minimum requirements in mind:

  1. You can put your data in

  2. You can get your data out

  3. You can manage user accounts and access

  4. You have meaningful customer support

1. You can put your nonprofit's data in

The work done by human service nonprofits varies widely, and so does the data you track. You need to be able to track the data that you want and your funders request. That data can be used for simple accountability (i.e. reporting) and it can be used to help you learn and improve over time.

To make this possible, you must have access to forms, case plans, and other tools that can collect any piece of data you need - demographics, school grades, shelter nights, meals, evictions prevented, goals achieved, etc. If you need it or care about it, then there should be a way to track it in your nonprofit's data software.

Questions to ask about the software:

  • Can we develop repeatable assessments?

  • Do we need case planning and goal tracking tools? If so, are those available?

If you can’t collect everything you need with the case management software you're considering, then you have to use a secondary system to manage additional data. For example, you might continue tracking your backpack program in Excel. That can be okay as long as you get good value from your data management software. But, managing two systems adds complexity and time, so you will have to weigh the tradeoffs.

2. You can get your nonprofit's data out

Your nonprofit needs to report your impact (i.e. outputs and outcomes) to donors, foundations, your board and others. You'll often need to collect and report program demographics as well. To do that, you need tools to get your data out.

At minimum, you should be able to export your data into a spreadsheet, and you can identify certain data points (e.g. pantry meals) for a time period you specify (e.g. Jan 1 - Jun 30 of 2022). This allows you to get the data you need, and only that data, without getting overwhelmed.

Questions to ask about the software:

  • Can I export a particular data point for a specified date range?

    • e.g. pantry meals served between January 1 and December 31, 2023

  • Is the exported data in a usable format?

    • You'll probably want it in a spreadsheet that you can easily manipulate.

  • What other reporting capabilities does the software offer?

    • Are there built in tools that will help me summarize my data without exporting it?

With your data in hand, you can use a spreadsheet program (Excel or Google Sheets) to calculate totals and build simple charts. For example, with exported data, you could calculate the total number of meals served last year or the monthly total number shelter stays for the past 24 months.

You might even prefer to export your data. There are powerful, specialized tools for data visualization and analysis that are rarely matched by built-in tools in case management software.

Case Management software typically provide built-in reports for your data or even report builder tools. The more powerful and flexible the built-in reporting capabilities are, the less you have to do in a spreadsheet or elsewhere to get the reports you need. Built-in reports can save you lots of time, but we don't consider them to be required. As long as you can export your data, you can analyze it in your preferred tools.

3. You can manage user accounts and access

Managing user access is critical to the security of your site and the data it holds. Someone will need to do things like add and delete user accounts and reset lost passwords.

Questions to Ask:

  • Can we add and remove users easily?

  • Can we reset passwords in a simple, secure way?

User-role management is another required capability of case management software. User-roles define whether a user can access certain features of the site. User-role management is an essential capability that protects everyone and prevents unwanted access to certain areas or features.

For example, the “super user” might be the only user role that can create and edit data tracking forms. To allow your Program Director to create and edit forms, you would assign the Program Director to the “super user” role.

Questions To Ask:

  • Are there a variety of user roles to which I can assign users?

  • Is there a clear explanation of what each role can do?

4. You have meaningful customer support

“Meaningful customer support” is support that can help you solve problems without excessive delays. The minimum requirement is that you can report problems, bugs, or questions and someone will earnestly help you address them.

Questions To Ask:

  • How do I contact customer support to connect with a person?

  • How quickly will they respond?

  • What other support resources are available(documents, videos, a community)?

Meaningful customer support does not mean your vendor will do things for you that you should do for yourself. However they should help you work through issues and provide any helpful documentation or training resources that are available.

Shop Around

Now that you’re an expert about the minimum requirements for human service case management software, go shopping. You'll find that most vendors will cover these bases and a LOT more. If you encounter a vendor that doesn't meet these requirements to your satisfaction, it's probably best to look elsewhere.

Be aware that even these minimum features aren’t cheap to build and maintain. The farther your vendor goes beyond these minimums, the more likely they are to charge a premium to offer those additional features to you.

Reporting your impact is hard when you’re juggling spreadsheets. countbubble makes it easy so you can focus on your mission.

Learn how countbubble helps small nonprofits collect data and report their impact. Email us at or sign up for email updates on blog posts, product news, or scheduling a demo.

Founder, CountBubble, LLC

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