Many small businesses offer case management in their everyday work -- such as community-based health clinics and private senior facilities. No matter your company’s focus, case management involves several key activities, including assessing clients’ needs and strengths, creating a service plan and monitoring individuals as they make progress toward goals. Good service plans are clear, concise, individualized and coordinated with clients, other staff members and external partners. Review and update all plans on a regular basis.

Listing Client Information

A service plan begins with identifying information for a client. List her first, middle and last name -- confirming all spellings. Contact data, such as her address and telephone number, may be separately filed. Add additional information to the service plan that allows you to uniquely track each case. In this way, for example, you avoid duplicate plans for people who have the same name. One option is to enter the client’s Social Security number -- which might also be needed for administrative purposes. Another is to use an arbitrary identification number.

Outlining Goals and Objectives

This section addresses all of the issues a client presents to you. Translate these needs and challenges into goals he can achieve with the support of your services. Draw from the client’s language whenever possible. For instance, he presents the issue, “I get anxious all of the time.” You go on to ask him what he would like to accomplish by addressing his anxiety. His response is, “I’ll be able to finish the things I start -- I won’t use fear as an excuse to give up on commitments so easily.” You therefore list the goal: “Decrease anxiety to allow me to complete more commitments.” Go on to list measurable objectives such as: “Volunteer for one agency activity, devoting at least two hours per week over a three-month period.”

Specifying Actions

Add a section to your service plan that specifies actions to pursue all goals. This information commonly appears in a table or grid format. Each activity is associated with a goal – though a goal may have more than one activity. Briefly and simply state the activity. Note a target date, responsible party and progress or outcomes. A sample activity is: “Enroll in a smoking-cessation program.” A deadline of “Feb.15, 2014” is set. The responsible party is “Jim Taylor.” Progress is noted as “Jim came to our Jan. 15 meeting with a printout of possible programs from his online research. We identified the most convenient options. I will also investigate referrals.”

Signing and Dating

It’s important to have all relevant parties sign and date a service plan. This not only creates client buy-in but executes the plan from an administrative standpoint. In some cases, a person who has legal authority on behalf of your client will sign the document. Your signature, as case manager, is required. A supervisor’s signature is also standard to ensure oversight. Add a note to the plan if a client, or her legal guardian, refuses to sign.