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Mediate.com

Case Management for College and University Ombuds

by Clare Fowler, Jim Melamed
June 2017

Cloud-Based Case Management for Academic Ombuds Offices

Academic (college and university) Ombuds Offices have unique needs for managing personal and case information. There is, in fact, some tension between Ombuds Office interests of both protecting personal information, yet also providing detailed office usage reports. Capable cloud-based case management can assist Academic Ombuds Offices to best meet this and other case and data management challenges at an affordable cost.

Benefits:

Protect Personal Information

Ombuds case management software should ideally store user personal information only so long as reasonably needed by the Ombuds Office.  When a case is closed, user personal identifying information should be able to be deleted from all ombuds records, ideally allowing for the retention of “non-personal” data needed for office reporting.

Caseload Manager, operating on its own independent secure platform, now allows Ombuds to distinguish between ”personal information” and “case data,” and delete personal information upon case closure. Further, Ombuds Office created “custom data fields” can also be designated as either “personal information,” subject to deletion upon case closure, or as retained “case data.”

Provide Valuable Reports

Ombuds Offices commonly have substantial reporting needs. Offices often need to collect unique institutional data through the development of and reporting on custom data fields. The ability to flexibly select custom fields for date range reporting is a great plus,

Also review case management software options for available and valuable built-in reports. Quality case management systems are now able to anticipate many Ombuds Office report needs, including such reports as: Cases to be Assigned, Service Reports, Activity and Billing Reports, and Custom Case Field Reports. Flexible display and export (to Excel) options are also a great feature for flexible reporting.  After system configuration (taking advantage of all built in reporting capacities), additional custom reports can also be developed by Resourceful Internet Solutions, Inc., (home of Mediate.com) which has developed Caseload Manager over the last 8 years.

Ombuds Reports may include such aspects as a summary of current cases, work to be completed, and annual report on office usage and activities. Office reports may also be utilized to indicate complaint trends based upon user demographic data and types of complaints.

Save time

Capable cloud-based case management software allows Ombuds Offices to enter all appropriate data into a single tailored system that ensures that this information is immediately available to the right people, and no one but the right people. Automated intake and response systems provide users with the experience of being attended to and cared about and are wisely utilized to shape complainant response expectations.  Critical information can be appropriately routed for prompt attention by the right people, and only the right people.  Appointments, reminders and follow-ups can all be scheduled as part of an overall optimized case flow configuration, that can be steadily improved over time. Quality case management software ultimately allows Academic Ombuds Offices to spend less time record-keeping and more time resolving sensitive and important disputes.

Quality cloud-based case management software can also now save your Ombuds Office money. Integrated Caseload Manager technology can, for example, likely replace many other programs, including case tracking software, reporting tools, calendaring, Dropbox, survey software, and time tracking.

Caseload Manger can also improve your Academic Ombuds Office data quality and reporting. For example, Caseload Manager, if desired, will pre-populates your record structure with IOA (International Ombudsman Association) best practice data categories and needed fields, ensuring that the necessary information is systematically entered in accordance with IOA best practice standards.

Easy Implementation of IOA Best Practice Data Standards

The IOA (International Ombudsman Association), in its 2015 Practice Report (https://www.ombudsassociation.org/IOA_Main/media/SiteFiles/docs/IOA-Practice-Report-FINAL5_11_17.pdf), identified 4 key concepts for the operation and management of Ombuds Offices: Independence, Neutrality, Confidentiality and Informality. Capable cloud-based case management can assist an Academic Ombuds Office to best meet these practice standards.

Independence

One of the most important IOA best practice concepts is that of “Independence.” A cloud-based case management system ideally should be kept separate from the college or university’s main computer system. Academic Ombuds Offices are commonly designed to be as independent as possible from the institution that they work for, and this properly includes case record and data management and reporting.

Neutrality

For an Ombuds Office to be effective, end users (complainants) need to know that the office is neutral. Any appearance of partiality or bias can quickly skew if not destroy the conflict resolution process. Using an independent case management platform from the academic institutions main online system importantly helps to reinforce an Ombuds Office’s neutrality. 

Confidentiality

Keeping information in a secure online environment protects user (complainant) confidentiality. Staff can choose which information they want to memorialize about a user and the situation, and if they would like personal identifying information deleted upon case closure. As a best practice, personal identifying information should be removed upon case closure while still maintaining data for case reports and analysis. 

Informality

Caseload Manager is uniquely shaped and configured for and by each Ombuds Office. For example, an Ombuds Office can develop unique intake forms and correspondence “stationary” for various processes, including consultations, facilitations, investigations, conciliations and mediations.

For a quick and competent start to building an Ombuds Office online case management system, Caseload Manager offers a “starting point” case record and data model based upon International Ombudsman Association (IOA) best practice complaint standards. Further, each office can also cumulatively add your own additional unique case types, resolutions, statuses, and other custom fields.  

Ombuds offices are invited to enjoy a free trial of Caseload Manager

 

Biography



Clare Fowler, Managing Editor at Mediate.com, received her Master's of Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at the Pepperdine University School of Law and her Doctorate in Organizational Leadership, focused on reducing workplace conflicts, from Pepperdine University School of Education. Clare also coordinated the career development program for The Straus Institute dispute resolution students. In addition to her editorial duties at Mediate.com, Clare coordinates online case management for ADR programs, agencies and courts.


Jim Melamed co-founded Mediate.com in 1996 and has served as CEO of Mediate.com ever since.  Mediate.com received the American Bar Association's 2010 Institutional Problem Solver Award.

Before Mediate.com, Jim founded The Mediation Center in Eugene, Oregon in 1983 and served as Executive Director of the Academy of Family Mediators (AFM) from 1987 to 1993. Jim was also the first President and Executive Director of the Oregon Mediation Association (1985-86). Jim's undergraduate degree is in in psychology from Stanford University and his law degree is from the University of Oregon.Jim has received the following awards: The Oregon Mediation Association's 2003 Award for Excellence; The Oregon State Bar's 2006 Sidney Lezak Award of Excellence; The Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) 2007 John Haynes Distinguished Mediator Award; and The 2012 Academy of Professional Family Mediators (APFM) "Getting To Yes" Award.

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