The Role of Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) in Meeting the Goals of Opening Doors

Regions are often guided by HUD technical assistance providers that all of the non-profits within the Continuum of Care (CoC) should use the same HMIS data system.  The well-intentioned thought behind this suggested approach is that this is the only way for coordinated entry to become a realization.  Here are some of the more significant issues with this approach:

  • Agencies often serve clients beyond the footprint of a single region.  
  • The geographic boundaries of the Federal partner agencies do not align. 
  • Forcing the usage of a common system inadvertently creates barriers for cross-region collaboration. 
  • This approach disregards any agency-specific needs that may be different than those of their peers. 
  • HUD is currently encouraging CoCs to merge.  
  • Not all agencies participate in HMIS. 

The intent of this paper is to share an alternative approach that both allows for coordinated entry and overcomes these various issues.  The suggested approach is to encourage the adoption of a services-oriented architecture (SOA) as this is the glue that will allow disparate systems to work cohesively with one another.  SOA is a software design practice in which applications components can communicate with other components via established communications protocols.

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