Case Management Systems

05/18/2015
By Donna Rogers, Editor






Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs on the TV series NCIS portrays a character who, while he may be courageous and a fatherly boss, is a techno-phobe who doesn’t even seem to be able to use his own computer.
 
He recently got a smartphone but was teased whether he knew how to send a text. Yet, despite being decidedly low-tech, he depends heavily on his tech-savvy staff to ping criminals’ cell phones in seconds and to piece together forensic matches to the most minuscule evidence left at a crime scene and round up the most egregious terrorists.
 
Most courts today see the value in a case management system, though paying for it may be the biggest hurdle to implementation. Those in the field tell us other significant issues that may preclude the court from getting their CMS set up efficiently are lack scaleability and configurability and a system that is not comprehensive enough to account for the court’s workflow in its entirety. We spoke with some of the major software providers in the field who discussed how they overcome some of the predominant pitfalls in implementing a smooth-running system.
 
“Currently, the primary obstacle to courts implementing a case management system are the financial challenges faced by many cities and counties,” says Robert Wilson, president of Syscon, Inc. “Although the situation is gradually improving, budgeting for a case management system can be a difficult sell.” He goes on to say that if one considers the staff time saved by a system, the improvement in collections of fines and fees due to automation, and better (and fairer) decisions by the court due to more accurate and timely information, “oftentimes a system can be justified in spite of budget constraints.”
 
With careful study, a way may be found to fund a system through bonds, public-private partnerships, financing, etc. And the quick ROI can in many instances justify the cost.
 
Another issue courts face is the growing concern over security and access to the courthouse. They should consider ways that allow their constituents to interact with them without ever having to physically go to the courthouse, suggests Phil Hatton, VP, Justice Solutions Manager. Self-service options are a growing trend as the workforce not only finds it difficult to leave work, but expects access to the court on their terms much like the service they get from banking and entertainment, he says.
To meet this challenge, Xerox case management solutions provide a suite of online options that allow constituents to interact with courts when it is most convenient for them. Constituents can search for case information, manage traffic tickets, make payments, and even complete filings for certain case types—providing convenient, secure access to the court any time of the day, notes Hatton.
 
Comprehensive system
A comprehensive system and a capable partner are two of the most important things to consider when looking at case management systems for a court, according to Michael Kleiman, director of Marketing, Tyler Technology’s Courts & Justice Division. Because integrating with other systems is one of the most complicated, time consuming and expensive parts of creating a solution, having a single comprehensive system in place saves headaches. Implementing a comprehensive system creates end-to-end processes for the court that make using it efficient, easy to manage and cost effective, he details. “The more that a single system can do, the more likely it is that modules will work together and be on a similar enhancement path.”
 
In addition, implementing a new case management system is a huge investment of time, money and political capital. This is the reason a solid partner is important. Without a partner that has a track record of success with the product they are installing, Kleinman points out, “courts can’t have confidence that their investment is a good one, and will remain good five years down the line.”
 
He furthers that Odyssey is an integrated case management system—it not only includes case management, but also document management, e-filing, a public access Web portal, workflow, touchscreens for the bench, and modules for jail management, supervision and for the Prosecutors’ office so that everything works together seamlessly. Odyssey is so successful, he says, because Tyler has “the expertise, resources and commitment to make every one of our implementations a success.” He reports Tyler has clients in more than 600 counties across 21 states, and 10 complete states using Odyssey. New clients benefit from the expertise of the Courts & Justice Division’s more than 500 staff, including more than 100 developers who work full time to improve the product.
 
The ability to be able to customize a CMS is also an essential feature to seek out. Many “off-the-shelf” systems are rigid and are  simple out-of-the-box systems that are not always the best solution for a court with specific needs or workflow, says Jeff Nadler, vice president of sales with McGirr Technologies.
 
McGirr’s CMS includes “a built-in suite of automation engines that can be managed by departmental staff, without the need for vendor support. These include a flexible and comprehensive workflow platform, an automated resource scheduling engine and a correspondence module, as well as automated case management steps, events, notifications etc.,” he states, adding, “The framework and processes can be easily configured as required by court staff to adapt smoothly and rapidly to changing business requirements.”
 
The ability to be easily configured is important not only to be tailored to the individual court initially but so that it can be altered as court processes change. “Courts updating or replacing their current case management solution should consider how a solution will meet their current needs and adapt to future requirements for years to come,” stresses Mandy E. Peterson, Communications, Journal Tech-nologies.  She says that because their eCourt system is “highly configurable, it will evolve with processes within a court as they change over time. Our configuration specialists teach our customers to modify and update processes during implementation, through ongoing training, and technical support via a team of highly-trained customer support specialists.”
 
“Configurability is unquestionably the most important feature to consider in a CMS,” concurs Adam Watson, account manager, Synergy International Systems, Inc. “A system that cannot dynamically adapt to changes in business processes will not survive.”
 
He says that Synergy’s systems are built on a configurable platform that enables them to customize the CMS for each client, “enabling us to dynamically adapt to the uncertain and often changing requirements that we encounter with clients who may be transitioning from paper based to electronic systems for the first time.”
 
Pamela Dancil, product marketing manager with AutoMon, LLC, agrees that one of the most important features that courts, as well as probation, parole and pretrial agencies, should consider is flexibility and configurability, along with cost-effectiveness for both software implementation and for the long-term.
 
Dancil reports that over the years, AutoMon has worked with community supervision and corrections agencies across the country and observed dramatic changes in supervision practices. Regulatory and legislative changes have had a significant impact on agency responsibilities, and the steady and sometimes rapid growth in the population of supervised individuals further impacts resources and funding. The supervision landscape has led organizations to search for a more flexible case management system that can accommodate new laws and regulations with minimal costs incurred to the agencies. She says this realization has informed AutoMon on how to design, develop and deploy its software solutions to be highly configurable and flexible.
 
“One of our core philosophies is that the costs of industry change should be borne by the community of users together so that development costs are shared. This means functionality developed for one agency is delivered to other agencies for only the cost of localizing the solution,” she comments. This approach has resulted in a significant financial competitive advantage in this market, she furthers. Thus even by selecting an off-the-shelf CMS, the agency can minimize costs and mitigate risks associated with extensive development efforts and a long software implementation.
In drilling down to her specific solution, she says that by leveraging its domain expertise, AutoMon has invested heavily in the development of SaaS products to complement the core Caseload Explorer’s breadth. Its SaaS product suite, called Ce Connect, includes solutions for assessments, drug testing, check-in (web and kiosk), analytics, and a mobile solution. These products are specialized applications that provide deep functionality in areas of supervision and focus on eliminating manual, redundant tasks and provide industry-leading analytical tools. These SaaS solutions are tightly integrated with Caseload Explorer, allowing for a seamless user experience across all products, Dancil says.
 
‘Workflow, workflow, workflow’
 
When asked what is most important in choosing a CMS, Sue Humphreys, director, Industry Solutions with CourtView Justice Solutions, responds: “Foremost, the court should be looking for a company they can trust and with whom they can freely collaborate on the best possible system for their needs. After that, it’s workflow, workflow, and workflow.  Given the ever-changing and fast-paced nature of court business, it’s just super important that the CMS is insanely flexible and can serve up the right information to the right people at the right time.
 
“Along that same vein,” she furthers,” personalization is at the top of the list too—because it’s just as critical that your CMS understands the differences between user needs.  What I need to see and do as an intake clerk is completely different than if I’m the finance manager or the court administrator. In any of these roles I may be looking at the exact same cases, people, or activities, but what I need to know and how I interact with the information should be very specific to [each role].”
 
CourtView has built its CMS on top of business rule engines that let the court decide how their cases flow from beginning to end, she points out. “Starting with our case- and workflow templates, the court can set their own guidelines and process rules as needed, and easily keep them updated as new laws, policies, and practices come into play.  We’ve even extended this right on out to how information is presented to different roles.”
 
Therefore, not only is the flow itself configurable (what must happen when) but what I see (how, when, where) is specific to who I am and the work I need to accomplish, she details.  “The biggest value of this approach is that it eliminates unwanted ‘data smog’ and lets each person focus on what’s most critical to them.” An added bonus is that the CMS can be accessed on any internet-capable device, concludes Humphreys.
 
In the end, a CMS solution that is built on an open/flexible platform and is easier to integrate with internal and external systems is the top priority, says Manoj Jain, vice president, Thomson Reuters Court Management Solutions.  “Today’s CMS must adapt to the ever changing technology landscape, and not be overly reliant on a specific platform or web browser (platform-independent and browser-agnostic).  The system should have built-in flexibility that allows for court specific rules and workflows to be configured and the system must be able to meet the court’s existing, and future, integration needs.”
 
Thomson Reuters’ solution, C-Track, is built on open technologies and is platform independent (software that can run on any hardware platform, e.g., PC, Mac, SunSparc, etc., or software platform, e.g., Windows, Linux, MacOS, UNIX, etc.) and browser agnostic (accessible from any modern web browser), Jain explains. It has built-in integration services that allow IT teams to compress implementation time and supports integration with legacy and new third-party justice partner systems without relying on the vendor. In addition, C-Track Configuration Manager gives clients the ability to manage the configuration of their system on their own.
 
Technology Overview
 
AutoMon Caseload Explorer
Caseload Explorer is a unified adult and juvenile case management system for probation, parole and pretrial agencies designed to simplify and automate all areas of supervision. In a single solution, Caseload Explorer provides a web-based case management system in a secure environment to organize, manage and share client information.
Pamela Dancil
Product Marketing Manager
AutoMon, LLC
480-368-8555
pdancil@automon.com
www.automon.com/
 
Courtview JWorks
With its dynamic caseflow management (DCM) engine, flexible screen builder, and role-driven dashboards and navigation, JWorks is a highly configurable COTS case management system.  What you see—and how you interact with information—can be easily tailored to roles, teams, and individuals.  Built-in workflow automatically assigns and routes outstanding to-dos and deadlines and lets you notify, escalate, re-route, and re-assign work as needed. This unique capability goes beyond caseflow to include the flow of person information and specific activities like calendaring, warrants, investigation, financials, docketing, motion tracking, and documents to name a few. 
1.800.406.4333
info@courtview.com
www.courtview.com/ct
 
Journal
Technologies’
eCourt
ECourt, web-based case management, accommodates all case types for courts of all jurisdictions. ECourt is database agnostic, automates repetitive tasks, brings judge’s tools to the bench, and fully supports real-time in-court processing. Court professionals need only a web browser to access full eCourt functionality—meaning, eCourt is available to judges and clerks via smartphone or mobile device. No apps are necessary.
Journal Technologies, Inc.
435.713.2100
jacoba@journaltechnologies.com
www.journaltechnologies.com

McGirr MCMS
McGirr offers an advanced solution for modern, citizen-centric courts. MCMS (McGirr Court Management System) includes:  streamlined, configurable case management, automated court administration, calendaring, payments etc., inCourt judicial staff module, eFiling and judicial portals. The platform is fully configurable by court administrators to support constantly changing legislative and business needs.
Jeff Nadler
Vice President of Sales
480-857-6341
jeff.nadler@mcgirrtech.com
www.mcgirrtech.com/us/
 
Synergy International
Systems Inc.’s CMS
Synergy's Case Management System (CMS) is uniquely designed to meet justice sector needs in developing countries, enabling governments to automate court processes, monitoring case activities, and support decision-making through the use of real-time data and analytics. Synergy's CMS includes online data entry, analytics, reporting, workflow management, and system administration.
Adam Watson, Acct. Manager
Synergy International Systems, Inc.
703.883.1119 x 1001
Skype: a.c.watson
Adam.Watson@synisys.com
www.synisys.com
 
Syscon’s Enterprise Court Clerk and Court Lite solutions
Syscon offers two case management options for courts.  The first is the Enterprise version of Court Clerk, which provides numerous case management features to streamline court operations.  These include onscreen display of forms, flexible interfaces to law enforcement [including NCIC] and financial systems, biometric fingerprint recognition for user authentication and signing of court documents, paperless court operation, automated reminder phone calls to defendants regarding scheduled court appearances, integrated online payments, and customized FTA processing.  The second option is its hosted solution called Court Clerk Lite.  The Lite version provides many features of the flagship product at an entry level price.  It also offers a very simple upgrade path to the Enterprise version.
Syscon, Inc.
1.888.797.2661
info@syscononline.com
www.syscononline.com
 
Thomson Reuters’
C-Track
C-Track, the innovative case management system developed by Thomson Reuters Court Management Solutions (TR CMS), keeps cases moving efficiently through your court. C-Track provides a total court solution by integrating your e-filing, case management, and public access solutions with other court applications.
Thomson Reuters Court Management Solutions
1.877.923.7800
courtmanagementsolutions@thomsonreuters.com
www.thomsonreuters.com

Tyler Technologies’ Odyssey
Odyssey simplifies the path to a paper free court by providing an end-to-end solution; it is used by courts in more than 600 counties across 21 states. E-Filing is included in the solution suite and works seamlessly so that electronic documents are automatically incorporated into case files. Odyssey also includes sophisticated document management, so efficiency is improved as electronic workflows automatically deliver documents to the correct queues. In addition, time is saved and errors reduced because justice partners easily share data with Odyssey jail, attorney and supervision modules. Access to justice is enhanced with a new Web portal that guides self-represented litigants through court forms.
Tyler Technologies
1.800.431.5776
cjsales@tylertech.com
www.tylertech.com
 
Xerox Court Case Management
Xerox case management solution and ancillary offerings combine streamlined case filing, intuitive calendar interface, powerful document processing, flexible and efficient adjudication processing, specially designed user interfaces for court room processing, and robust accounting module with flexible payment options to make your court run more efficiently and effectively.
Xerox Justice Solutions
Michael Hartman
1.800.772.0597
Justice.Solutions@xerox.com
www.xerox.com/justice
 
 

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