Improving Social Work Processes Through Understanding

Implementing any kind of new software or tool - SAM or otherwise - is only successful if your team can clearly communicate the process or program the tool is going to be used in. Consider trying to use a new baking gadget without knowing the recipe - doesn't make a whole lot of sense. You have to know what you're doing before you can improve the steps.

It's not uncommon for our team here at InReach Solutions to encounter clients with a very unclear picture of their processes. We were recently on a phone call with a program director and asked her about fees, and she had to yell out to her team for someone to come in and explain that steps.

We think a lot about workflow, but how can you get your team or board excited about process improvement? How can you explain that this is a vital step in improving any part of your program, from saving time to saving money to matching more children with families?

One great introduction to the how and why of process analysis comes from systems engineer Tom Wujec. Wujec uses the process of making toast for breakfast to explain how to break down a process individual and as a group to create a shared understanding.

We recommend that every one of our clients do the same steps in Wuject's toast video, but for their programs. They are always amazed at what insights they gain, even with processes they thought everyone did similarly.

Some suggestions for process diagrams:

  • What is the application process like for our families?
  • How do volunteers become involved with our organization?
  • How do appointments for _____ program get scheduled with providers?

Give it a try - what surprises or opportunities might you find by clarifying a process with your team?