Peanut butter and jelly. Chocolate and caramel. Peas and carrots. Some things just go well together!
We love it when we can make features in iCarol work well together, too. Take Automated Resource Verification and the Public Resource Directory as an example. By themselves they each have a specific and valuable role to play with your referral management. And these two features are now working together in new and exciting ways!
As you’re already aware, help seekers like having self-service options, like searching online for resources. Having a Public Resource Directory (PRD) means you can embed a live search of your iCarol resource database right on your website for easy access by the public. And of course there’s lots of flexibility and control over what is seen by the public and what isn’t.
But help seekers aren’t the only ones using your PRD. Staff at your local community organizations are likely going online to check out your resource directory to see what you have listed. If they see something that’s incorrect or needs an update, they could call or email you. If you use Automated Verification, you could then send them a verification request that lets them quickly and easily see what you have on record, make suggested updates, and send that back to you so you can review and update records with the click of a button.
But let’s see if we can simplify that process even further: Now, when you have both the Automated Verification and the Public Resource Directory features enabled in your iCarol system, you have access to an advanced feature that allows Resource record verifiers to initiate a new verification request directly from their Resource records in the PRD.
On your PRD, for resource records that include an email address in one of the available email fields of the record, the public will see a disclaimer on the details page of the Resource record that asks:
The public user has to fill out the security captcha, then click the button below, and this tells iCarol to send the verification request using the template and settings you’ve specified (See below for more on that). The request will be sent to the email specified on the resource, requesting a review. And if a record does not have an email then the disclaimer, captcha, and email button will not appear at all for that record, so verification Requests cannot be initiated.
When someone in the public initiates that verification request on your PRD, your staff with the “Resource verification requests from service providers” setting enabled on the Notification tab of their profile will receive an email.
And the resource verifier, depending on the email on record and the saved Automated Verification settings, will receive an email with their unique verification link.
So, how do you get this to work for you? Well first, you must subscribe to both Automated Verification and the Public Resource Directory. If you want to start subscribing or just want to learn more about these features, please contact our support team. Not using iCarol yet? Please contact us for a demo and free trial!
If you already subscribe to both of these features, setting up this advanced tool is a snap. Just take the following steps:
1. On the PRD settings page, make sure that the highlighted setting below is checked, and click the Save button.
2. In your Automated Verification settings, create a new email template that will be used for these PRD initiated requests, and check the box for “Use this template to email users on the Public Resource Directory when one of their saved records is updated” before saving the template.
3. Choose the Automated Verification settings you’d like to apply to all the PRD initiated requests by either finding an existing Automated Verification Request where suitable settings were chosen, or create a new request and set it up how you’d like all PRD initiated requests to be set.
4. Use the ‘Saved Settings’ tool to save these settings for PRD initiated requests. Make sure you check the highlighted setting before clicking the ‘Save’ button.
Once you’ve taken these steps, you are all set up! Now if someone visits your PRD and notices that their resource record is due for an update or needs a correction, they can easily initiate the request and receive the link to update their records. Not using the PRD or Automated Verification yet? Or maybe you’re using one, but not the other? Contact us today to get both of these features working together to boost your referral service!
We recently added the ability for clients to configure which details of resource records are displayed in the search results list. This provides additional information to users, without having to open the resource record by clicking details.
Fields that may be included are:
- Coverage Areas (may slow performance)
- Application Process
- Languages Offered
- Hours of Operation Note
- Closest Site, or Location Description
The last setting “Closest Site, or Location Description” will be included in the results when a city value has been chosen from the Geographic Filters on the resource search page, and when the Program is linked to a ProgramAtSite record with location information.
Here is an example of a resource search results list without any of the above additional fields added:
Here is the same search with all of the available additional fields chosen:
If you would like to turn on any of these options, please submit a case via the online case submission tool.
The team had a blast in Dallas for this year’s I&R Training and Education Conference organized by the Alliance of Information and Referral Services (AIRS).
The weather was a big topic of conversation at the conference, as torrential rains, storms, and severe flooding wreaked havoc on the region in the days prior to the conference. In fact our developer, Spike, who attended the conference shared this image of the flight path towards the end of their flight into Dallas on Tuesday night. Just as their flight was cleared to land, the airport closed due to the storms and their flight was diverted to Tulsa where many others were also sent. It took several hours before they could get from Tulsa to Dallas. Getting there was an adventure for many conference goers due to the storms, but was ultimately well worth it.
And since disaster response is a component of the work of many 2-1-1 and I&R agencies, many attendees whose centers are located in the region had to split their time between attending their sessions and regularly checking in with staff at their call center. It was a great reminder of the never-ending and important work happening in the industry.
The conference was very centrally located in downtown, within a mile of interesting museums like the Dallas Museum of Art and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealy Plaza which examines the life, death, and legacy of JFK.
Crystal noted that the local art scattered throughout the area was impressive, “I loved the art all around the city, the hotel had an interesting mural painted all along one side. Outside a little pizza shop, walking distance from the hotel, there was a really interesting bronze statue of horses, and everywhere you looked there was art beautifying the area. Art was everywhere!”
There was plenty of opportunity for fun while in Dallas. Several iCarol team members and helpline staffers took in a Texas Rangers game one evening which was a lot of fun.
We also found a delicious Mexican restaurant located about a block from the conference. YUM. Here we are again with a variety of folks from both our team and the industry chowing down.
The fun and games were great, but we accomplished a lot professionally as well. The iCarol Usergroup session was well-attended. For those who haven’t attended one of these sessions before, we use this as an opportunity to speak with iCarol users and provide a synopsis of the major enhancements that have been deployed over the last year.
Crystal’s session, “Taxonomy 102: How to make taxonomy customization decisions, and policies to consider” was popular among resource managers and the audience was really engaged! Be sure to keep an eye on the AIRS networker for the presentation if you’d like to check it out. Whether you use iCarol or another software vendor, please check into your Taxonomy capabilities and options for more information on how you can apply what you learned.
For more great photos from the conference, check out the album shared by AIRS. Our team would like to thank everyone who stopped by to say hi, attended a session, or engaged with us in any way while at the conference. We had a terrific time!
Crystal and Neil are dusting off their spurs and cowboy hats – they’ll be in Dallas for the Annual I&R Training and Education Conference, held by the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS), May 27 – 30th.
There are some special events we’d like to note, first that Crystal, who is a specialist in Taxonomy and I&R, will present a workshop titled
Taxonomy 102: How to make taxonomy customization decisions, and policies to consider.
Here’s the description of the session, which falls in the Resource Database Track:
So you understand the basic concepts of indexing records using the AIRS/211 LA County Taxonomy, but what comes next? Join us in discussing how to make Taxonomy customization decisions for your organization, and more importantly your resource database. Analyze a database and choose levels to index records. Learn the difference between horizontal and vertical indexing, and how to avoid these common indexing misadventures. Explore the different schools of thought on target terms, and work towards developing your own targeting policies. This session is intended for Resource Database staff with a basic understanding of indexing using the AIRS/211 LA County Taxonomy.
We should note that Crystal’s session is not iCarol-focused, it is educational and will be helpful to Resource Database staff regardless of the software solution used by their helpline. You can join her session on Saturday, May 30th from 10:45am to 12:15pm in the Dallas Ballroom B, 1st Floor, Conference Center.
There will also be an iCarol User Group session on Wednesday May 27th from 2:00-3:45 in Majestic 5, 37th Floor, Center Tower. The User Group session is aimed at leaders and staff at organizations who use iCarol so they can learn about our latest updates and ask questions. If your helpline would like to learn more about iCarol, whether you’re a current subscriber or not, you’re certainly welcome to attend.
Of course while in Dallas we’ll also be welcoming visitors to our booth (201) in the exhibitor’s hall. We’re looking forward to talking with everyone there in hopes of telling others about the iCarol solution, and welcoming more I&R centers into the iCarol family. If you plan to be at the conference and would like to chat with us, please !
The Automatic Resource Verification tool is a powerful tool used to update and maintain your Resource database. You can create any number of custom Verification Requests, to update large groups of Resources (up to 1,000 records at a time), or only specific records that need to be reviewed. Your Resource Contacts, or Verifiers, receive an email, with a link requesting them to review their information and submit any changes. They are able to work on the update over multiple sessions, and can submit their changes to you for approval when ready.
How to Create an Automatic Verification Request:
1. Log on to iCarol, using an account with Resource Editor privileges.
2. Click on Resources from the left menu, then to the right of the Geographic Filters choose “Verify” which will change the page to allow you to create a request.
3. Choose the automated verification request method (see explanation below) that best meets your needs.
4. Create search query/find the records you wish to include in the automated verification request. Here are some examples:
- Find all Resources with a specific Taxonomy term. eg. “Suicide Issues”, “General Counselling”, “Homeless meals”, “Homeless people”, etc.
- Find all Resources with a specific Keyword/Category term eg. “Meals”, “Income Tax”, etc.
- Find all Resources that have a specific word in their Resource Name. eg. “Meal”, “Counselling”, “Mental Health”, etc.
- Find all Resources that have a specific word or phrase in any field on the Resource Record. eg. “Low income”, “form filling”, etc.
- Find all Resources that have a Custom Field Value chosen. eg. “Update Quarter”, “Update Month”, etc.
5. Apply any additional filters to the request, such as including only Agency or Program Records, Geographic Restrictions, or Resources that have not been updated within a specific time frame. Once you have applied all the filters you wish to the search, click the Search button. You will be presented with a list of resources that meet your search criteria. Here is what the list will look like:
6. Deselect any resources you do not want to send in the request by unchecking them. Please note, as soon as one Resource record is deselected, Setup Method 2 will apply to the automated verification request (see below).
7. Click “Start a verification request with these search results” to configure the automated verification settings.
Note: Only one query can be used per automated verification request. If you want to send a request to all Resources with “Meal”, or “Food” in their name, you will have to create two separate requests, unless you can find a search query that will include records in both searches. This is an example of where Custom Fields may be an option.
Setup Methods for the Automated Verification Request:
Method 1: Preform a search, and create the automated verification request from ALL listed/found resources. As soon as you deselect any displayed Resource, you are now using Method 2. Important to note, the query you use to create a Method 1 automated verification request will be saved, and repeated at the time the request is actually sent. If any changes happen to your Resources between the initial creation of the automated verification request, and when it is sent, all records that are found in the same query will be sent.
Use example: On Monday, you decide to send an automated verification request to all resources that have a “Suicide Issue” term applied. However, you end up busy and unable to send the automated verification request that day, and decide to delay sending it, until Friday. In the meantime, you or other team members have added a new service, and updated the taxonomy/category of other services, with the “Suicide Issue” term. When the automated verification request is sent on Friday, all records that match the initial query will be included, including those that were not included when the automated verification request was first created on Monday.
Method 2: Perform a search, and deselect/select only the specific resources that you want to contact.
Use example: You receive a complaint that an agency “Fruit Rescue Coop” is no longer running. You want to send an automated verification request to just this agency to inquire about the status of their programs.
Explaining the Automated Verification Request Email Settings:
Setting 1 tells the automated verification request what email address to send the request “From”. You can choose to use the iCarol default (which a verifier cannot reply too), or to setup your own “From” email address by contacting iCarol Support. Please note that verifiers are only able to reply to a verification request to you directly, if you setup your own “From” email address.
Setting 2 tells the automated verification request what template you want to use when sending the request. You can setup multiple templates with custom phrasing for your verification requests by using the “Create and edit email templates” link at the top of the automated verification request page.
Setting 3 tells the automated verification request in what order to look for email addresses. The default is “Main Contact” first, “Senior Worker” second, “Last Verified By” third, and “General Email” fourth – however, you can customize this to any order that you prefer. When the automated verification request is sent, it will look into each of these fields, in the order you specify, to determine where to send the request.
Setting 4 tells the automated verification request what records to include in the request. This setting modifies the initial request creation method.
- “To all the Agency’s child records” no matter which setup method you choose for the automated verification request, ALL the agency’s records will be included in the request, even if they do not match the initial query in method 1.
- “To child records only that match the search criteria above” will expand the initial search, to include the resources that match the query in the first method of setting up the automated verification request.
Setting 5 tells the automated verification request what emails to look at to send the request, and if one does not exist, which email to use instead.
- “Ignore the parent Agency, just use whatever email is found in each Program or Site” tells the automated verification request to ignore the Agency (Parent) record, and to use what is found in the Program or Site record (Child records), in the order specified in Setting 3. If no email is found, the record will not be sent.
- “If no email address is found in a Program or Site, then try to find one in it’s parent Agency” This is a good option for when Programs may or may not have their own contacts. The automated verification request will look for an email address in the Program or Site records (Child records), in the order specified in Setting 3.
- “Only use email addresses from the parent Agency, not from the Program or Site” tells the automated verification request to ignore any emails found in the Program or Site records (Child records) and to send all records to the Agency (Parent) record, in the order specified in Setting 3.
Setting 6 tells the automated verification request how to include ProgramAtSite records, if they exist in the request (a combination of Setup Method, and Setting 4). If they exist, they are sent either “merged” or “separately”.
- “Merged” – “Program Contacts” tells the automated verification request to merge ProgramAtSites with the attached Program. Verifiers can confirm/remove which sites are linked to the Program, and can provide general notes about the changes. Setting 5 and Setting 3 then determine which email to send the merged record too.
- “Separately” – “ProgramAtSite Contact if one exists, otherwise program contact” tells the automated verification request to include the ProgramAtSite records separately. The automated verification request then looks at Setting 5 and Setting 3 to determine which email to send the separate record too. Note: The ProgramAtSite record exists independent from the Program, and may, depending on Setting 5, and if an email exists in the ProgramAtSite record, be sent alone, with an Agency Record and/or with a Program record.
If your organization wishes to use this feature, or if you have any additional questions on how to use it, please submit a case to the iCarol Support Team via the online case submission tool.
We’ve got a new optional tool for searching for resources using custom categories. This tool lets you conduct category searches on up to three categories (sometimes also referred to as “keywords”) simultaneously.
Those using the taxonomy are familiar with this already; what’s new is the ability for everyone with custom categories to use this.
So how can this be helpful to your searches?
You could use this new tool to search for resources tagged with both “rent help” and “utility help” (if you had those categories set up, for example). That could be helpful if your caller had transportation issues, and needed a single place to go for both. The search results would only include resources tagged with both of those custom categories.
As another example, you could also use the tool to search for “rent help” OR “utility help.” That could be helpful if the caller had general financial issues, and you wanted to find any resource that might be able to help. In that case, the search results would return resources tagged with at least one of the categories you indicated. You’d get more search results with this method than you would for the first example.
If you’d like this tool enabled in your system, there’s no added charge. Please submit a support case, and our team will take care of that for you.
With February nearly over, are you finding you and your team are still working on items from your January to-do list? So much to do, so little time.
Perhaps it’s time to consider shifting to new timesaving workflows. One of the best ones: Automated Resource Verification (ARV). It’s particularly helpful if you have more than a couple hundred resources, and/or your certifications require regular updates.
This handy tool – a well-integrated add-on to your iCarol system – makes short work of keeping your resource information up to date. Say goodbye to the headaches and time-eaters of the old way of verifying resource information: Endless games of telephone tag, bloated email inboxes, and hours cross-checking resource records to see if they include the latest information.
Check out the time-saving workflow you’d use with this tool:
- In just a few clicks, create a list of resources that need to be verified, right from your iCarol resource search page. Verification-specific filters, such as “date last verified” can be combined with standard resource search filters to find just the resources you need.
- Use radio buttons and pull-downs to select options, such as the email address the request will originate from, how to handle parent/child records, which email address to try first in the record, etc. The “visibility settings” area of iCarol lets you designate exactly which resource fields verifiers will and will not see.
- With one click, have iCarol send verification requests for all resource records in your list. Each email will automatically include your custom message, plus iCarol will drop in a custom link that leads the recipient to information about just their resources.
- Recipients click that link to view online the resource information you have in your database. They suggest changes to individual fields.
- In your iCarol system – not in your email inbox, hooray! – you’ll get a prompt when responses have arrived, and you can review them. The fields with suggested changes are highlighted, making it fast and easy to focus on the changes. Feel free to make edits to the suggested information as needed, then click “Save.”
- Your resource has now been updated and the changes are live in your database.
Clients who use ARV tell us the manpower savings, improved response rate, and greater precision over the process more than makes up for the add-on subscription cost.
If you’d like to find out more about this tool, add it to your subscription, or would like a free trial, please open a support case if you’re a current iCarol client, or if you’re not yet using iCarol. And if you’ve looked at Automated Resource Verification in the past, I invite you to take another look – we’ve added lots of enhancements in the past year.
Recently, the responses screen in the automated verification tool has been updated and expanded to add more tools to make it even easier for you to manage your verifications. Please read on to learn more about the tools now available on this screen.
The screen is laid out in a table format, with several columns of information. You can reorder any of the columns (alphabetically or by date, depending on the data in the column) by clicking the up or down arrow beside the name of each column. In the upper right hand corner of the screen, there is a search box, so you can search for particular data by resource name, resource type, date, email address or a person’s name.
You will note there is a column titled “Assigned To”. When an individual sends a verification request, that request and the subsequent responses are assigned to that person. In this way, you can divide the responsibility for automated verification requests and responses between several people. Using the check boxes next to the Resource Name and the “Reassign” button at the bottom of the screen, you can reassign the responses to another worker if you wish. Please also note there is a Delete button at the bottom of the screen. You can use the check boxes next to the Resource Name and this button to Delete particular responses if you wish.
Also at the bottom of the screen, there are some settings you can use to filter the data in the table. To access these settings, click the link “Show settings”. “Show Verification Responses for” allows you to filter the list to show only those verification responses assigned to you, or those assigned to everyone. “Show Verification Responses in” is used to filter the responses according to what status they are in. The definitions of the statuses are:
Pending – A verification request has been sent, but the verifier has not responded yet.
Responded – The verifier has submitted (responded to) the verification request sent to them, but the response has not yet been approved by someone at your agency.
Completed – The verification response has been approved by someone at your agency.
“Include the following fields in the Results” will only appear if you are using custom resource fields. These custom fields will appear in a list so that you can filter the responses list to only include those resource records with the chosen custom field.
Finally, in the top left corner, you can determine how many entries you would like to see per page. The default is 10, but you can change this to 25, 50 or 100. If there are multiple pages of results, you can move through each page by clicking “previous”, “next” or a page number in the lower right hand corner.
In iCarol, we offer a resource structure, or hierarchy, called Agency, Program, Site. If you’d like to learn more about this structure, you can download our guide about this information. The Agency – Program – Site hierarchy in iCarol follows the structure recommended by the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) and is most often used by those agencies using the AIRS taxonomy. Using this structure, at the 3rd or 4th level, (the 4th level being programatsite), has an effect on which information is displayed when viewing agency and program records within iCarol.
An agency is a legally recognized organization that delivers services. (edit screen identified by a grey ribbon)
The agency is the main location of the resource where the administrative functions occur, where the organization’s director is generally housed and where it is licensed for business. An agency may or may not deliver direct services from this location.
Sites are the physical locations (eg. branches) from which clients access services provided by an agency. (edit screen identified by blue ribbon)
If only one locations exists, all information may be stored in the agency record. If multiple sites exist, then ALL information recommended for Site must be stored there, since those fields will be displayed instead of the agency version.
The display hierarchy is: Program-at-Site (if using) Site / Program (if using)/ Agency (if a piece of information exists at all three levels, Site info will display
A service/program record describes the types of assistance/service an agency delivers to its clients. (edit screen identified by green ribbon)
If only one program exists for an agency, all information may be stored in the agency record for that resource.
Program-at-Site contains specific details about a program that are available at a site. (edit screen identified by beige ribbon)
It is helpful to understand what information from which type of record (agency, program, site or programatsite) will display so you can made educated decisions on what information to place in each record so that referrals given to your callers as an accurate as possible.
Our Support Team can provide you with an Excel document that shows what information will be displayed when viewing agency and program records. There are two tabs in the Excel document, one for those using the three level hierarchy (agency, program, site), and one for those using the 4 level hierarchy (agency, program, site, programatsite). If you’d like us to send you this document, please open a Case with support using the Case Management tool found in the Help section of your iCarol system.
We mentioned recently that at this year’s AIRS conference a workshop called Resource Database Assembly: The Next Generation provided some inspiration in making a measurement available within iCarol that calculates the complexity of your resource database. We have now added this tool to iCarol.
Resource Complexity is a concept first suggested by several AIRS luminaries. By using approximations, it is used to calculate how complex your resource database is and how many hours per year it would take to manage them using the AIRS standards. For each Agency record, it gets 1 point for every Site record and 2 points for every Program record belonging to it. The Agencies are then grouped by their point score into the following categories:
Simple: 0-10 points
Moderate: 11-20 points
Difficult: 21-40 points
Complex: 41 points and higher
Once grouped and counted, you then assume an average number of hours per year for a trained worker to manage those resources, as follows:
Simple: 1-5 hours (average of 2.5 hours)
Moderate: 5-10 hours (average of 7.5 hours)
Difficult: 10-20 hours (average of 15 hours)
Complex: 20-40 hours (average of 30 hours)
With the total number of hours calculated to manage your entire database, you can then estimate how many Full Time Equivalent employees you may need to manage your database. There are 2,080 hours in a standard work year (40 hours per week for 52 weeks) but the hours available to an employee are usually less than that to account for vacation, sick days, training, meetings and other administrative work that will reduce their hours available to do resource database management.
To use this tool, simply navigate to Statistics and click on the Resources tab. The values for the assumptions of Resource Database Complexity described earlier obviously greatly affect the calculations. They have been in use by a major US 211 center since 2009, who claim they very accurately predict workload. Your own results may vary. If you would like this tool to allow you to modify these assumptions, you can contact our Support team using the Case Management tool found in the Help section of your iCarol system.
A large chunk of time spent managing records according to AIRS standards involves keeping those resources up-to-date. When records are regularly checked for accuracy and updated, you know your clients are receiving helpful, good information. This reduces the frustration and feelings of being overwhelmed experienced by those who may already be in crisis or an otherwise difficult situation. Even a database full of records rated as “simple” will take thousands of work hours to manage.
If you check your database’s complexity and feel overwhelmed at the number of hours it may take to keep your database in check, then it’s time to consider iCarol’s Automated Verification tool. With this upgrade you can seek out the resource records that need to be verified using the same search tools as you would to give referrals, with the additional tool of date parameters showing when the records were last verified. Next, automatically send an authorized worker of that agency or program an email asking them to review the information you have on file and make suggestions or updates. They’ll be given a peek at the information as it exists in your live database so they can make those suggestions. Finally, your Resource Manager can review this information and choose to accept what’s been submitted or make some of their own tweaks first, and then apply the update to the resource record. What might have taken weeks of phone tag to accomplish has been squashed down to a fraction of the time. To find out more about Automated Verification and how it can assist you with keeping your resources updated, sign in to your iCarol system and check out the video.
We hope you enjoy this new ability to view the complexity of the resources in your iCarol database and that it helps you analyze your staffing needs pertaining to keeping your Resource Database accurate and up-to-date.