Management Information Software for Human Service Quality Management and Research


Terry Carrilio, Ph.D.

Director , Social Policy Institute

San Diego State University School of Social Work

6475 Alvarado Road, Suite 236

San Diego, CA 92120


William Ganger

San Diego State University Foundation

6475 Alvarado Road, Suite 236

San Diego, CA 92120


MIS (Management Information Systems)

Case Management

Quality Management



This presentation describes  core principles in the development of effective management information systems for use in social service settings. The challenges of working with end-users, identifying reports and processes which can be used at multiple levels within an organization, and using the management information system to assist with quality management will be explored.


The presentation describes core principles in the development of management information systems, and explores the need to work with funders and agency staff at all levels to implement an effective MIS. 

The presenters briefly review some of the settings in which they have had experience and explore some core principles for MIS development which have emerged from these experiences.  These principles include: 

1.      To be user friendly@, data elements must be few, intuitively clear and mutually exclusive.

2.      Data should be collected at the time of the activity to avoid errors, and data entry screens should mirror the hard copy forms available to staff.

3.      Data collection forms should be integrated into the case recording system so that staff do not have to repeatedly complete the same information.

4.      Data processing should involve the maintenance of hard copy@ for data entry separate from the Ahard copy@ which remains in the case file.

5.      Administrative staff need to be part of the development of a data processing plan which includes how data will flow, how compliance will be monitored, what reports will be produced, and at what intervals.

6.      On-going training and support need to be available to staff. This requires administrative and supervisory understanding of the benefits of the MIS and regular use of the available reports and queries.

7.      The MIS is a living system, requiring on-going refinement of definitions and development of new reports over time.

8.      The evolution of the system must be communicated to staff and administrators clearly and regularly so that updates are understood and incorporated  consistently.

9.      The MIS should fit seamlessly into a quality management and case recording system.

10.  The MIS should be constructed so that it articulates easily with other data base systems and statistical packages , thus reducing the need to re-enter data for research and evaluation purposes.

11.  New data requirements should be handled through refining the reports whenever possible so that the line staff experience very few changes in the forms, definitions, or front end@ component of the system.

The presentation is intended for  social service supervisors, administrators, program evaluators and IT administrators. While there is no prerequisite knowledge required, participants who have had experience with reporting to funders, program evaluation, or collection of process data will find the session most useful. 

Learning objectives for the presentation include: 

        Introduced to core principles for developing MIS programs which have developed over time in a variety of social service settings.

        Exploration of  ways to handle typical data needs

        Discussion of the ways in which an integrated case management, data management, and quality management approach can emerge form the development of a management information system. 

The lead presenter for this session developed the core principles as part of an effort to collect process data for a research project in 1979. Since 1994, the two presenters have been collaborating both on the conceptualization, structure, application, and programming of a series of applications related to research and evaluation projects and large state wide initiatives.