In January of this year the four separate probation departments of Clark County, along with Community Corrections, became a new consolidated department as required by Indiana Rules of Court, Administrative Rule 18. The four Clark County Circuit Court Judges (Board of Judges) directed me as the newly hired Chief Probation Officer to improve service delivery, eliminate duplication and develop uniform office practices.
We analyzed the organization of the probation departments using the McKinsey 7-S Model. The McKinsey 7-S model was developed in the 1980s by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman who worked as consultants for McKinsey & Company. The premise of this model is that there are seven key facets of organizations that must work together. These facets are structure, systems, style, staff, skills, strategy, and shared values.
A change to any one of the facets has an impact on the others. For example, a change in probation systems could have an impact on the structure of the organization or the number and skill level of the staff.
- The findings from the study led to several initiatives addressing the facets of the McKinsey 7-S model.
- We created a Vision, Mission and Values Statement for the consolidated department to address the need for shared values.
- We wrote job descriptions for all positions in the department to address skills.
- We developed a new employee policy handbook utilizing templates provided by Brenda Rodeheffer, Director, Office and Employment Law Services, Indiana Supreme Court’s Division of State Court Administration, to address systems and shared values.
Finally, a team of officers across all probation divisions implemented a common set of probation terms to further address systems and shared values.
A significant problem identified during the study was that each of the pre-consolidation probation departments used different case management systems. These different systems did not interface with each other and it was a significant chore to share case information among probation officers or to transfer cases between departments to probation officers who possessed special skill sets. In addition, even the administrative work of routing clients to the correct probation officer was difficult because no administrative personnel had access to all departments’ case files.
In order to address these deficiencies I decided to implement the Indiana Supreme Court’s Odyssey Supervision System. The Clark County court system had been using the state Odyssey case management system (CMS) since June 2010. We contacted Lisa Thompson, Probation Subject Matter Expert with the Judicial Technology and Automation Committee (JTAC), to discuss how and when Clark County could implement the new supervision system. Lisa Thompson along with JTAC consultant, Mark Harvey of M. Harvey Technology and Consulting, LLC, traveled to Clark County and provided probation leadership staff an introduction to the Odyssey supervision system. Ms. Thompson also provided a business process questionnaire so JTAC could begin configuring the system to meet the specific needs of Clark County.
We began implementation of the system during the week of May 14. Ms. Thompson and Mr. Harvey provided a week of training to the Clark County probation department. JTAC furnished more than 20 laptop computers for use by Clark County Probation staff during the training. The staff was divided into two groups. Each group received two full days of training that included entering practice cases and the opportunity to enter real cases in the new Odyssey Supervision system. On the fifth day, the staff was trained in the entry of financial data.
JTAC lacked the financial resources for data conversion unlike the implementation of Odyssey for the courts. Probation department staff had to manually enter all cases into the system, which required the temporary closing of the offices. Although the process was tedious, the staff had the opportunity to work out issues and answer questions prior to going live. JTAC personnel provided ongoing support and answered questions during the beginning of the data entry process, and showed exceptional product knowledge and patience as staff members worked through issues and became more proficient with the system.
The Odyssey Supervision system has now been fully implemented and more than 3,000 cases have been entered. JTAC personnel have addressed in a timely manner the few problems that have occurred. Probation officers and administrative staff continue to become more comfortable and proficient with the system as they enter new cases and contact notes.
Although the implementation has been challenging, the Odyssey Supervision system will provide significant benefits to Clark County. The new system will allow for the elimination of software licensing costs for four separate systems with a potential savings to the county of nearly $50,000 annually. Administrative staff can now quickly identify the probation officer assigned to a specific case without having to either search through different systems or conduct a door-to-door inquiry. Cases can be quickly re-assigned or transferred to other officers with special skill sets without having to re-enter the case data into a new system. Probation officers and/or administrative staff can also move to other areas within probation without having to learn a different system.
The decision for me to implement Odyssey Supervision was an easy one. Clark County Probation and Supervision Department implemented an effective new probation system at no cost with tremendous technical expertise and support from JTAC. I came to the Chief’s job with more than 20 years of previous industrial experience including time as a Vice-President of Human Resources for Commonwealth Industries, Inc. When I served this same company as the Manager of Business Analysis and Planning I worked with investment bankers in mergers and acquisitions. I also previously led a manufacturing department of 125 people at the company’s largest aluminum rolling mill. I worked with a number of talented people in a variety of jobs; yet, I must say that Lisa Thompson and Mark Harvey would be among the most talented and easy to work with people I have ever known.
Clark County Probation and Supervision’s vision is to be the “model of excellence for probation and community corrections in the State of Indiana.” Our Mission is to “improve the protection of the community, safety of staff, and the accountability of offenders.” The Odyssey Supervision system will help us meet this vision and mission by providing real time data across all probation divisions to track our efforts.