The 80/20 Rule...Reimagined

by Abe Lee

In 1896, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto demonstrated that about 80% of the land in Italy was owned by only 20% of the population. Thus was established the Pareto Principle (or 80/20 Rule), a model named by Joseph Juran after Pareto’s observation. Basically – 80% of the output is a result of 20% of the input.

This same principle (with some subtle and some not so subtle differences) has been applied to government sector services and implementations. Maybe you’ve heard a colleague use the 80/20 rule regarding your clients (20% of clients typically require 80% of the agency’s resources). Or maybe someone has called out the 80/20 rule regarding a project you are working on (80% of our efforts will likely only impact 20% of our implementation).

Let me posit that the 80/20 Rule may even exist in child welfare and family services agencies where direct service in the field to clients is essential. Often, it feels like 80% of a caseworker’s time is spent focused on administrative minutiae or at their desk, with only 20% of that time being spent with children and families (let’s call this the 80/20 Rule of Administrative Minutiae). But what if agencies could flip that to 80% of service workers’ time is spent directly with clients, and only 20% in the office on administrative tasks? What if the 80/20 Rule of Administrative Minutiae could become the 80/20 Rule of Client Engagement?

In health and human services, caseworkers have always been “mobile.” Child welfare caseworkers interact with clients where they are, empowering them to achieve greater autonomy and resiliency and require less agency intervention or support. This is not a “behind the desk” or “in the office during office hours” type of mission. Investigators and caseworkers engage with clients wherever they are—at home, at school, at work, on the playground. In other words, it has always been the intention of the health and human services mission to support clients within their frame of reference and context – to be “mobile.” In today’s mobile-enabled world, we now have the opportunity to provide child welfare and family services workers with the tools to support that reality—to flip their day-to-day such that 20% of their time is spent on the administrative tasks and 80% of their time on the fundamentals – helping clients succeed. The right mobile solution can actualize the 80/20 Rule of Client Engagement.



Mobility doesn’t care about your solution

Let me clarify. The health and human services sector uses case management systems (also known as “systems of record”) to help monitor and evaluate program outcomes and effectiveness for their clients and beneficiaries. This is a good and necessary thing, without question, but most agencies want to implement improvements to their system of record to flip the 80/20 Rule of Administrative Minutiae. Health and human services agencies know that enabling greater in-person interaction between child welfare caseworkers, investigators, and their clients increases the quality of support and helps improve outcomes. Working to flip client engagement to 80% and administration to 20% is a worthy goal, but from a solution perspective, what does the “right mobile solution” look like?

The right mobile solution doesn’t care about the state of your case management system (or system of record). The right mobile solution provides the means by which your caseworkers and investigators can engage with your system of record quickly and efficiently now, regardless of the technology or age of your system of record. It leverages your existing technology investments and extends the reach of your case management system. The right mobile solution creates the opportunity to enable the 80/20 Rule of Client Engagement by creating opportunities for child welfare and family services caseworkers and investigators to engage with their system of record on their terms. No more going into the office to complete a report – she can just dictate her notes into her phone while driving to the next appointment. No more pouring through the case notes of other caseworkers, now he can listen to notes being read back while having his morning coffee. No more scheduling follow-up appointments just because you forgot to bring the right form, now you can simply pull up the right form on your tablet and have the client sign it right there.

The right mobile solution will provide an effective and efficient method for child welfare and family services caseworkers to engage with their system of record – any system of record. It will work offline when connectivity is an issue, be easily configured to meet your current and future business needs, and seamlessly integrate with your future technology investments should your agency’s system of record change. The right mobile solution will (for the caseworker or investigator) make the 80/20 Rule of Client Engagement the norm and (for your technology) leverage the best from the past, improve the present, and build for the future—ultimately enabling a better level of care and support to children and families.



Name *