Cornerstones Unified Database Implemenation Project

SYST/OR 699 Capstone Project

Problem Statement

Due to the distribution of their programs, varying levels of data collection, and utilization of multiple and independent spreadsheets, Cornerstones has experienced difficulty in their client tracking process. The existing system allows for significant tracking issues. For example, when a client visits multiple community centers to receive different kinds of service, Cornerstones may not be able to track reliably that the same individual is using multiple services. Reasons for discrepancies in tracking include: (a) there may be variations in the way the staff member spelled the clients name, (b) the client may have changed addresses since their last visit, or (c) the client's household structure may have changed. When the records cannot determine the uniqueness of individuals, the accuracy of the reports may be compromised (i.e. one individual may be counted as many, or different individuals might be thought to be the same person). Currently, Cornerstones relies heavily on the staff members' familiarity with repeat clients and also on the investigative abilities of their back-office staff to correct such issues.

In addition, it is difficult to track a client's service history. Cornerstones is interested in knowing how much service is being rendered to a single individual or family in order to gauge their level of need. With better tracking, it is hoped that Cornerstone would be able to identify clients in greater need of service and pro-actively provide that service. For example, a client who has increased their need for food pantry services may also need job-finding services or additional child care assistance. Also, being aware of this history could prompt Cornerstones staff to recommend nutritional seminars and counseling to the client. With the current system, this level of monitoring and response is difficult.

Lastly, the distribution, inconsistency, and insufficiency of client tracking in the current system prevents Cornerstones from being able to realize many additional reporting and analysis capabilities that could greatly improve their ability to monitor their performance. With a unified, central database of client records, Cornerstones would be able to generate many types of reports about their clients, services rendered, and trends over time.