HMIS Reporting Services
In the traditional reporting model, the software vendor tasked with creating and maintaining your data collection system also provides the reports that come from it. With "Reporting as a Service", or RAAS, a suite of reporting tools can support the common reporting needs of all vendors while allowing for custom reports to be created as needed. RAAS can be accomplished via a Distributed Reporting Model (DRM) where the reporting tools are sent to the data, or through the Data Warehousing approach where the data is sent to the reporting tool as we have implemented in HomelessData.com
The Distributed Reporting Model
HUD recently endorsed the DRM approach through the licensure of the HMIS Report Generation Tool to generate both the Continuum of Care (CoC) and the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) Annual Performance Reports (APR). This same approach has been used by several CoCs in the creation of the Annual Homelessness Assessment Report (AHAR) and several other reports that are vital to understanding the work being done to address the issue of homelessness. The HMIS Report Generation Tool is publicly available on OneCPD.info and is used by software vendors throughout the country to ensure the accuracy of their programming logic. Grantees can also use the tool in instances when their HMIS vendor is either incapable of producing an accurate APR or has chosen not to waste time creating one as the work has already been done for them and is proven to be accurate.
Simtech’s AgencyDash technology utilizes the data warehousing approach whereby the data is sent to where the reporting logic resides. This is effective for tasks such as third-party data quality monitoring, advanced reporting, and using other data sources such as U.S. census figures. AgencyDash also makes it possible to render the data to map-based tools and access reports from a variety of devices including PCs, mobile phones and tablets.
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The Benefits of the "Reporting As A Service" Model
In the current model, commercial and homegrown vendors separately develop their own reports and the quality of the work tends to vary from one vendor to another. The centralized management of reporting provided through the RAAS model allows one entity to audit the reporting logic to ensure it is accurate. Having a consistent report layout also helps to ensure apples-to-apples comparisons between programs regardless of whether or not they use the same HMIS vendor. The APR and ESG CAPER components of the HMIS Report Generation Tool have both been validated for accuracy through HUD's National HMIS Test Environment which is currently being operated by The Partnership Center in Cincinnati, OH.
In the traditional reporting model, each HMIS vendor must perform similar work to code the APR, and other reports. This includes the development of the report itself along with the costs of training, ongoing support, software licensing, hardware, security protection, and more. There is an economy of scale however from creating the report once and providing it openly for distribution.
The common approach used to make regional reporting possible is to force all agencies within a region, regardless of their agency-specific needs, to use the same HMIS software. By offering another means of aggregating the data in one place and generating regional reports each agency is allowed to choose the software that works best for them.
Shorter Implementation Times
There may be circumstances in which having another option for reporting might provide a crucial stopgap when resources and/or time are limited. The rollout on a singular development effort will tend to be quicker than the time needed for 40+ vendors to indepedently code the same report.
Speed of Updates
Hurricane Katrina and the housing crisis are two recent examples of circumstances that have had a dramatic impact on what information needs to be collected and how it needs to be reported. Centralizing the reporting logic enables the HMIS community to more readily adjust to any needed changes because only one set of source code needs to be adjusted.
With the Distributed Reporting Model, the reporting tool is sent to the data source, so the data never has to leave a site. With data warehousing, the data resides in a fully redundant and secure Class-A data center with 24x7 monitoring. If need be, the data can be de-identified or encrypted prior to reaching the warehouse.
HMIS Vendor Integration
HMIS vendors may wish to have either identifiable or de-identified data posted to a secure server and have the report(s) generated for them. This allows software vendors to focus time and resources on supporting their customer base and acquiring new clients while leaving the reporting to us.