When it is time for your behavioral health program to invest in field placement software, there are many options to choose from and there are many things to consider in deciding what works best for your program. So, how do you make a decision? What should you be thinking about?

Well, most obviously, think about your particular program’s needs. Who are your stakeholders? What do they need to make their tasks easier? What are your current pain points? Who needs the most support? In choosing a program, it’s about finding the right fit that will truly serve your program and its stakeholders’ needs.

What’s Out There

From paper records to Excel spreadsheets and homegrown time tracking systems to developing software systems, it may be time for an upgrade. Maybe you’re ready to give up some of the responsibilities of record-keeping and you are looking for a team of experts to help solve your management and organization problems. Perhaps the system you’ve been working with is no longer sustainable?

“When the pandemic hit and everyone went online overnight, Tevera became a lifeline.”

David Haller, Roberts Wesleyan College

We all understand that the way of the future is digital (gone are the days where paper records serve us the way they used to and we’re all trying to reduce our environmental impact by moving online). And with the world moving faster and demanding your immediate time and attention, spreadsheets are no longer making the cut. Information needs to be accurate, up-to-date, and accessible for everyone in our organizations.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Comparing Software Programs

Honing in on what your program needs can be difficult when there are so many options out there. Here are some questions to consider:

Does the software’s features solve your needs?

Take the time to understand each of the features offered by the system. This will help you decide what you will use. Do the features go as far as you need them to, or do you need something more robust? You also don’t want to overpay for features you don’t need or won’t use.

What is your access to customer support?

Every program’s IT department will differ in terms of its staffing, capacity, and involvement with different departments. Is your IT department highly involved with this decision and in implementing a new software system? Or will you need frequent direct support from the software company? What sort of access will you have if things go haywire?

How companies offer technical support is an important question. Ask about their training and onboarding process (e.g. how long? what will it cover? who will be involved?) and how support is handled after onboarding. Also, who receives support? Can students contact support or are faculty expected to be the first line of support? If it’s the latter, you’ll want to make sure that your faculty are highly trained on the software and there’s a process in place to train new faculty. When you’re looking at the ‘true costs’ of software using this support model, factor in unpaid faculty support because this can become a real point of frustration for staff who are already stretched for time.

If a software company is not located in the United States, be sure to ask where their support is located and how they will support you when you need it, especially with time zone issues. For companies in the U.S., it’s a good idea to also ask where their support is located because high quality, responsive off-shore support is difficult to achieve except for only the largest software vendors.

Imagine a worst-case scenario when it comes to technology. Systems are down and you need help ASAP. What about outside the 9-to-5 work window or on weekends? Different software companies will have varying structures of support for their clients, so consider what you need in terms of customer support, so you never feel abandoned and locked out of your data.

“(Our students) haven’t had any bad experiences with Tevera’s tech support. Those things just keep us feeling really good about the software, in addition to all of the other functions. It really helps to have their excellent customer service.”

B. Chapman, University of Wyoming

How much work do you need to do to get up and running? How much training is needed?

A software investment should be there to make your work easier, not more complicated. While everyone understands a certain period of education and adjusting to a new system, how long is this period? 

Consider the transition process in moving to a new system and how you get your stakeholders on board. The time it takes to train your staff and partners will be an investment in time, so what will that look like? And what about your data? Wherever it was living before moving to a new system, how will the integration process occur? Will it be secure?

How easy is it to use? Will it make your program more efficient?

This is, of course, a big question, particularly when considering all the different stakeholders that may or may not be involved with using the software. Spending time with the software by scheduling a demo and talking with a representative who knows the product can help more than just perusing a website. Additionally, reading reviews and testimonials is key to understanding others’ experience with the software. You will have your tech-savvy stakeholders and those who take longer to adjust. Consider both when thinking about the usability of a software.

Some software, like Tevera, are designed to simplify and streamline your workload. This is done through workflows and standardizations optimized for best practices followed by accredited programs. One size doesn’t fit all and these need to address the nuances of each field (e.g. social work, counseling, psychotherapy, etc.). This can include terminology: the less your staff has to ‘interpret’ terms used in other disciplines, the easier it is for them to master a new software system.

Speaking of workflows, be sure to drill down into the steps each software takes to complete a particular task or job. Overly complicated workflows, or processes that can’t start because of multiple dependencies, can significantly impact user experience. If complicated workflows are coupled with a support model that requires staff to support students, you may find your program bogged down by the very software you purchased to streamline it.

When customers look at software, they’ll often describe how different their processes are and want everything ‘customized’ to their unique requirements. This may sound attractive, but can lead to unforeseen consequences in terms of support, inefficiencies, and costs. Highly customized software is difficult for vendors to support and those costs will be passed on either directly in additional fees or in the form of slower response times. When comparing software vendors, look for suppliers who will candidly help you weigh the pros and cons of ‘customized’ options. Vendors concerned about saving your program time and improving efficiencies will be more focused on keeping your business than winning your business. Ultimately, this may mean taking a hard look at inefficient processes that could be improved and streamlined instead of selling you something that won’t help you improve your program’s operations.

“A lot of our faculty were a little bit hesitant to move to Tevera being the new program, last year. And the faculty that have used it have also said, ‘Yeah, this was a good move.’ And I’ve heard the same thing from students. The thing about Tevera is the way you guys have laid it out so it’s intuitive and easy to find things on.”

David Haller, Roberts Wesleyan College

How much does it cost, including hidden costs?

Knowing your budget and understanding the full scope of payment of a system is important, as you don’t want any surprises down the road when you aren’t able to access a certain feature without needing to pay more. Looking beyond the immediate price tag and understanding the long-term costs is also important. Are there different price structures based on if you are individual or organization? Or is the software pricing flexible depending on your needs? 

As mentioned earlier, factor in support costs if your staff is expected to support students. This can be a significant drain on faculty and staff productivity.

Another factor is student access after graduation. Will students be able to use the software to complete their pre-licensure requirements? Some vendors, like Tevera, offer students lifetime access to their data. Accounting for this can give a more realistic appraisal of costs and value.

What is the return on your investment?

This seems like an obvious one, but be sure to stop and spend the time thinking about it. It’s easy to get taken up with features and dreams of streamlined, problem-free processes, but make sure you’re thinking about what it means to your program to get a return on this major investment.

While we’re discussing return on investment, look at any additional value software vendors offer your graduates. Tevera, for example, now offers students free access to a highly specialized job board that features over 10,000 open jobs in the helping professions. Tevera is actively marketing this service to employers and recruiters to make it easier for your graduates to begin their careers, turning a student ‘fee’ into a valuable career investment. In this sense, Tevera’s goals are aligned with your program’s: helping graduates prepare for and find careers they love.

Breaking Down the Features: A Comparison

We’ve done the research for you, and we’ve found who you should be considering when it comes to software for behavioral health education programs. We’ll be looking at Tevera (of course), Watermark, Sonia, and Time2Track.

Here are a few highlights when it comes to the features these companies offer:

Who Do They Serve?

Some of the key differences between these tools are in who they serve.

Software Who They Serve
Tevera Tevera supports students and alumni, administration and leadership, faculty, and field staff and supervisors within the helping professions. This allows for support for students beyond the graduation date and into developing their career.
Watermark Watermark serves a wide range of departments within an educational institution, from faculty to administration across fields of study.
Sonia Sonia is designed for organizations and staff working in field placement for education, social sciences, health sciences, and social work.
Time2Track Time2Track is focused on helping students track their training hours, professionals maintain the supervision documentation, and schools manage their records.

Reporting

Strong reporting capabilities are a must when it comes to choosing a technology. Real-time reporting with integrated tools and workflows make reporting features a compelling selling point for organizations looking to centralize their data and make it easy to report. 

Software Reporting Features
Tevera Tevera makes it easy to translate students’ tracking into presentable reports and their advanced document management means easy-to-use and easy-to-build reports for administrators, supervisors, and faculty, particularly when it comes to reaccreditation and decision-making.
Watermark Watermark provides institutions with a solid platform for reporting on faculty activity as well as creating and viewing real-time reports of course evaluations, program surveys, and assessment and accreditation documentation.
Sonia Sonia’s reporting approach is centered on monitoring student activity and managing data such as legislative requirements, finances, accreditation needs, timesheets, and licensure. They also offer programs the flexibility to design their own reports as necessary.
Time2Track Time2Track offers reporting tools such as visual charts and graphs and one-click printable reports to easily share and understand your data.

Tracking

Tracking is a key feature when it comes to education and career development in behavioral health. Students, supervisors, programs, and organizations rely on accurate tracking of hours for certification, accreditation, and licensure. 

Best for time-tracking: Tevera and Time2Track 

Tevera focuses on student and alumni progress all the way through licensure. With easy visibility and communication to supervisors, staff, faculty and administration, and mobile-friendly options, it’s the most comprehensive time-tracking tool on the market. 

Time2Track offers both individuals and organizations easy time-tracking with mobile-friendly access.

Field Placement

Depending on what type of organization or program you work at, a field placement feature could be critical in making a choice of software. Tevera and Sonia prioritize this feature, understanding the importance of field placement to the helping professions. 

Tevera integrates students, education staff, and field placement staff together, to reduce inefficiencies and improve communication. 

Sonia focuses on field placement organizations to support students finding the right fit and streamline their communication with a field placement organization.

“Tevera is really changing the way that our students and our field instructors are able to engage with one another and with their faculty liaisons.”

Field Program Director

Summing it Up

When it comes to investing in your program, your work, or your students, making a final decision can be confusing and difficult. Stopping to think critically about what you need to find success is key; understanding what technology can offer you in terms of problem-solving tools and customer support is the next important step.

In exploring the different options out there in EdTech for behavioral health programs, we hope you will consider Tevera in choosing what is best for your program. We believe Tevera offers the most robust package of features with customer support that is accessible and dependable. 

Schedule a demo with a Tevera team member today to learn how our software can elevate your work and help students and sites find greater success.

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Published On: July 7th, 2021 / Categories: Drafts /