A computerized system for a counseling center
Counseling centers are part of the health service society and just like many other industries they have been captured by the quickly advancing technology. Although the scenario may have very little to do with information technology, keeping track of records is crucial for everyone. Patients’ history is important for back-tracking purposes and improving on the service value given to the patients. Accuracy of information depends on the quality and quantity of information that is available. (O’Brien, & Marakas, 2007).
Today change is almost inevitable and it is thus considered a fact of life especially in the Information Technology world. The continual and often unpredictable changes in firms and organizations are frequently caused by mergers, new acquisitions, natural evolutions, market demands, workloads, or emergent of new constructive technologies. The complexity of technology such as computing solutions being demanded involves cost, risks and challenges depending on availability of resources and requirements.
In line with O’Brien and Marakas (2007), when one is preparing for computerization, it is essential to keep in mind the organizational capacity in terms of the existing systems, human resources, physical space, financial resources and informational needs. It is quite often to find analysts limiting the upgrading process to selection of suitable software. There are many other broad organizational needs that this marginalization fails to meet. It is therefore vital for an analyst to assess the management and accounting needs and most importantly the organization’s readiness to computerize.
The current case study involves an organization which is a non-profit counseling center for the youths who are at risk. Based on the study, market feasibility, opportunity to expand and market survey, the current status of the organization’s operating system indicates that the system runs on manual filing of patients, employees and financial records.
Given that the quality of the services rendered is influenced by quality of staff and resources that are available, the upgrade is very vital and timely since it will improve and encourage counselors and other employees to adopt and utilize computer technology in their endeavors hence facilitate better services.
As part of a drive to further improve the patients’ services, the organization is focused on an automation project that will assist in reducing the levels of manual administration and improve speed and accuracy while dealing with clients’ queries and care.
In line with Hinton (2006) on advancing information systems, the current system is risky considering possibilities that patients and staff data are unstructured and fragmented all over the organization. This might be a direct consequence to impact on patient care and even affect decision-making processes such as staff reimbursement.
Project Development Plans
Face-to-face interviews are preferable and where it is not possible due to the geographical, time or cost constraints, telephone and fax surveys can be utilized.
Extensive research based on the in-house information system, online resources, libraries and databases is required to ensure the system meets requirements. This may call for a close interaction with the clients especially where customization is required for their maximum benefit.
The post analysis, interpretation and recommendations by the supervising consultants are equally important so as to make proper reports on all the interviews that are made. A proper project plan requires the data collected to be used as a basis for defining the objectives and scope of the project, identifying the education and skill base of the targeted audience, finding the physical limitations of using the system, suggesting applicable and appropriate technologies for use or upgrade, outlining and working as per the specified timeframe and lastly assisting in specifying and outlining the cost structure.
Project Objectives: This is a project proposal to leverage key information technological facts into the organization, enhance better experiences for the patients, improve formats for storing or managing data, automate major manual tasks that are involved and computerize the communication between the group members who are involved.
Problems Addressed: The information system ought to cater for among others, keeping track of patient’s records with regards to counseling sessions and problem history. Patient records might be too huge and cumbersome to handle therefore without proper recordings and storage most would eventually end up getting lost or archived in stores. Searching for records manually might also be very tiresome and inaccurate especially for huge data. Most of these records will involve some calculations which are time-consuming and an expense that most people prefer to forgo.
Proposed Solutions: With the rapidly increasing power and swiftly decreasing costs of computers it remains economical to use them for the growing number of functions. In line with Filipe, Sharp and Miranda (2002), People only need to forecast their computer needs, evaluate the alternatives, and select the right system with the help of a professional guide.
Reasons for computerizing depend solely on the long and short-range goals, the advantages and disadvantages of the various alternatives that are available and, specifically what needs to be accomplished in the end. This is an activity that calls for one to evaluate the existing manual system and compare it with the computerized system. Some manual systems do not necessarily require computerization, they only need a few adjustments and they are able to meet the organization’s needs and user requests.
Computers have multiple capabilities that assist in solving many business problems such as keeping accounting records for instance cash receipts journal, receivables ledger, and general journal. They help in preparing accounting statements and reports such as a balance sheet, income statement or inventory status report. (Filipe, Sharp & Miranda, 2002) The advantages of automating the organization include but are not limited to the ability to organize and store many similarly structured pieces of information. These records may include addresses such as patient’s staff name, street, city, state and zip code which are easily and efficiently edited in a much more fast way thus alleviating the manual tasks. The system finds the client’s accounts where the required information can be viewed, or edited. Computerization is of great benefit for records such as those of a health facility that handles large amounts of detailed or repetitious confidential information within short periods of time.
Secondly they are able to retrieve a single piece of information from stored information such as an address of a patient among a wide range of stored records. Thirdly they perform complicated mathematical computations quickly and accurately such as employees’ net pay. The print information quickly and accurately for instance the sales reports. Have the greatest advantage of performing repetitive tasks indefinitely in precisely the same way each time without fatigue for instance printing a hundred copies of the same form of letter addressed to various parties.
In line with Tan (2005), Automation In the health service organizations enhances communications among individuals, departments and branches thus assisting in quick transmitting of vital data. It enhances the linking of offices to sources of data such as the internet.
Last but not least, every firm or organization needs auditing of their accounts so as to generate reports. An accurate financial system matches the expenses with the generated or available revenue. This makes the procedure of finding data for the financial year to be faster and easier as opposed to the manual system where one would need to spend considerable amount of time to find data and complete a large audit. A good system takes quite a short while to check on availability of funds and thus send or process required data without error. Other equally important tasks to be accomplished may include marketing, creating publications and computing other payrolls such as for casuals.
Advantages of having a computerized financial system
The system ought to provide financial reports required by the bankers such as balance sheets, income statements or cash flows immediately. They help the administrators in planning for the future expansion plans based on the availability of resources, analysis of actual financial history and budgeting in line with current technological software. Lastly it improves the asset-purchase decisions based on analysis thus improving the revenue and cash flow for payments
There is easy resolving of records matters and thus the counselors have enough time to deal directly with clients and maintain the service level agreement. A good system translates to improved clients’ experience and thus develops rapport. The system can be used to estimate or examine the possibilities of expanding so as to meet the needs of the changing market.
Constrains to be addressed should first involve the cost where the system ought to be free for the end-users or the counselors so as to minimize on cost of hiring data entry staff. The design of the system must be user-friendly whereby the learning curve is kept at average meaning that any interested party can learn to use it easily. The development constraint addresses the need to keep the running cost as low as possible by being easily scalable as per the market needs. A good technology ought to be interoperable with other emerging technologies and should be expandable. (Filipe, Sharp, & Miranda. 2002).
The system ought to be installed with redundant information servers which will ensure reliability. And most importantly, all the data involved will be secured against intrusions where all the sensitive data is password protected and administratively managed.
Project Proposal Time Frame
The time frame required for implementation of the whole project ought to be six months as per the organization’s management.
|Analysis||Data Gathering||2 Weeks|
|Data Flow and Decision Analysis||4 Weeks|
|Designs||Data Entry Designs||8 Weeks|
|TOTAL TIME||24 WEEKS|
This covers the minimum costs, benefits and application delivery details that will be required to get the organization’s automated system off the ground, and any other capital requirement to keep its operations going over the first few months such as the employees’ fixed and paid-up capitals or training.
Main components initial cost
Initial setup and development cost for six months as specified in the organization requirements entails the on-going operational costs and training costs with all the revenue source being Five hundred thousand US Dollars from a good wisher.
|UNITS REQUIRED||COST PER UNIT||TOTAL COST|
|Project manager||6 months||$9,000.00||$54,000.00|
|Network manager||6 months||$9,000.00||$54,000.00|
|Database designer and administrator||6 months||$5,500.00||$33,000.00|
|System administrator||6 months||$7,000.00||$42,000.00|
|Organization Secretary||6 months||$7,000.00||$42,000.00|
|Equipment and software|
|Workstations (Desktop PCs one per office and reception PC)||7||$4,000.00||$28,000.00|
|Routers/Switches/Hubs and Cables||2||$10,000.00||$20,000.00|
|Software Licenses (Operating, Application and Utility software)||1||$30,000.00||$30,000.00|
|Other Equipments||Cell phones||16||$700.00||$11,200.00|
|Other Costs||Help desk support specialist||1||$40,000.00||$40,000.00|
|Hardware maintenance and repairs||$10,000.00||$10,000.00|
|Employees’ training and other Contingencies||$16,000.00|
Premises and Equipment
According to the analysis of the available resources and any other future expansion plans of the organization, the existing system already has the premises resources. They include the offices, staff and some of essential equipment such as telephone and fax machine which will be incorporated into the new system. Project analysis also addresses the requirements and availability of equipment, materials and furniture as per the prerequisite.
This proposal also addresses the roles of various staff in the organization, the number needed at onset and in the medium term, out-sourced staff and any new salary structure.
Mostly not involved in day-to-day operations but principally consulted on all matters concerning management of the organization and most important changes to or introduction of new policies, funding and expansion of the organization. Directors have the authority to introduce processes and make short-term decisions affecting the organization. They are involved in sensitive activities that will set the organization off the ground.
Part-time Administrative Assistants
Cover the director over extra duties and shifts.
Full-time and part-time counselors
Two full-time and the eight part-time counselors are in charge of routine operations to ensure smooth running in counseling sessions and the organization as a whole.
The system needs a secretary based at the reception office. The secretary will initially be in charge of the Accounts Department which becomes a department on its own with its own head as the organization grows. The secretary will also act as Administration manager to co-ordinate reporting and marketing issues.
Salaries offered will be in line with the market taking into account the qualifications and experience of those recruited.
The system should not be interchanged immediately by throwing out the cumbersome manual system and let the computers do all the work. The type of change-over to choose depends on the reliability of the new system, the size of the system, financial support for the changing process and the user’s requirements.
A parallel conversion where both systems run concurrently for a while would be more suitable for the system considering its size. In most cases the users have time to counter-check the new data against the old and it is more secure in case of collapsing or failures to automate data as required. The cost of running two systems is high and it doubles the workload during conversion. With this system it is almost impossible to compare the output of the two systems but at least the users have time to train or familiarize themselves with the new one before complete change is done.
New proposals would include an online system where people can search for counselors, create their own accounts, search for the services available and create edit or review their own profiles with the firm among other tasks. Website should come in handy for advertisements and informing prospective clients. In line with Tan (2005), “Technology is a force to befriend in delivering sound medical care in the 21st Century”.
Filipe, J., Sharp, B., & Miranda, P. (2002). Enterprise Information Systems. Dordrecht AH, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Hinton, M. E. (2006), Introducing Information Management: The business Approach. London: Butterworth-Heinemann publishers.
O’Brien, J. A., & Marakas, G. (2007). Introduction to Information Systems: McGraw-Hill, Higher Education Press.
Tan, J. K. (2005). E-health care information systems: an introduction for students and professionals. John Wiley and Sons Publishers.