Human service professionals need to be aware of the variety of management IT applications to communicate with IT professionals and to select applications that support their work and solve their problems. This chapter attempts to organize, clarify, and simplify terms and concepts related to management applications relevant to the human services. Table 4.1 presents and compares the five categories of management applications discussed in this chapter. Although this categorization is imprecise, and the popular literature not always consistent, it is useful for discussion purposes. Since new terms are often coined without regard for overlap with existing terms, new applications will appear in the future that will expand this classification. Categories of Management Applications Relevant to the Human Services



Problem Addressed

Predominant Process


Data processing (DP)


Processing routine transactions


Payroll system

Management or agency information system (MIS)


Collecting and using basic agency information

Aggregating and formatting of data

Client information system

Knowledge-based system, expert systems, etc. (KBS)

Extracting knowledge for decision making

Advising, predicting, decision making, explaining rationales

Finding patterns, reasoning from cases, presenting codified advice

Child abuse risk advisor

Decision support system (DSS)


Answering “what if this were the case”

Modeling, statistical analysis

Optimum allocation of agency resources

Performance support system (PSS)


Instructing and providing advice on a subject or how to complete the task at hand

Guided instruction, interactive dialogue, monitoring user performance

Providing safety advice on the case being worked