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Clarity Human Services: INVENTORY Toolkit

Introduction 

Clarity INVENTORY is a bed and unit management tool built into Clarity Human Services that allows for granular tracking of a community's housing stock, including housing sites, buildings, units, and beds. Clarity INVENTORY provides real-time updates on the availability, status, and capacity of each bed and unit. 

Clarity INVENTORY integrates the management of your community’s coordinated entry process, Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), and bed and unit availability all in one place, making Clarity INVENTORY a powerful tool for your community. 

Because Clarity INVENTORY offers so many possibilities for tracking your community’s housing stock, it’s important to thoughtfully plan for its usage. This INVENTORY toolkit provides information and materials to help your community successfully adopt INVENTORY. The toolkit includes five sections:

  1. Pre-Project Planning - Assessing readiness for Clarity INVENTORY, identifying goals and impact, creating a workgroup, defining roles and responsibilities, and building Clarity INVENTORY knowledge 
  2. Current State Analysis - Reviewing your community’s housing and shelter portfolio to understand program structures, identify use of eligibility criteria, understand current coordinated entry and referral workflows, and review current reporting tools related to referrals and housing/shelter placements   
  3. Decision Making - Determining whether configuration will occur manually or through a migration process; identifying projects for Clarity INVENTORY, use of Clarity INVENTORY settings, designing workflows, and staff access permissions
  4. Building Clarity INVENTORY - Identifying necessary data clean-up and completing data collection, customizing Clarity INVENTORY screens, configuring Clarity INVENTORY, completing unit assignments, and developing reports  
  5. Implementation and Go Live - Creating a communication plan, training staff on new workflows, providing ongoing support, and using data to monitor system performance and data accuracy  

This INVENTORY Checklist contains an overview of this toolkit to help you track your progress throughout the process.

Let’s get started!

INVENTORY checklist

 

INVENTORY Checklist

We’re here to make using INVENTORY as easy as possible. So how about a simple checklist to keep track of the process? 

DOWNLOAD CHECKLIST

1. Pre-Project Planning

Implementing Clarity INVENTORY involves a multi-step process that requires project management, significant planning, and continuous attention to system impacts. Building an implementation infrastructure will lead to a successful rollout of Clarity INVENTORY and help you achieve your inventory goals. 


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1.1 Assess INVENTORY Readiness

The INVENTORY Readiness Assessment is designed to help your community determine whether you’re ready to revise your current inventory management and referral processes.

The assessment asks questions related to:

  • Project goals
  • Project management capacity
  • Current workflows
  • HMIS utilization
  • Reporting 

 

DOWNLOAD INVENTORY READINESS ASSESSMENT


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1.2 Define Goals & Impact

Whether your community wants to create real-time visibility into housing and shelter bed availability, develop a unit-level matching process, or track timelines and reasons units are taken offline, your pre-project planning should include identifying your desired impact. These goals will be incorporated into your project plan and revisited throughout the project to ensure the desired results are being achieved.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • What are the goals for this effort?
  • Define a clear use case for using Clarity INVENTORY. 
  • Is there a gap in your current inventory management process that INVENTORY will fill?

As you identify goals, seek input from a range of stakeholders, especially staff involved in the day-to-day work with housing inventory, coordinated entry staff, and those who determine reporting requirements.


 

 

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1.3 Identify the INVENTORY Workgroup

Before you begin implementing Clarity INVENTORY, it’s important to establish a workgroup to oversee the project and manage the rollout. Clarity INVENTORY projects can span several months, so it’s important to consider capacity and level of involvement when selecting stakeholders. We recommend including system administrators, leadership staff, funders, and involving community stakeholders as needed.

STAKEHOLDER

VALUE PROVIDED

INVOLVEMENT

CoC Representatives 

Ensure Clarity INVENTORY is well integrated into the community’s homeless response system. 

Attend weekly project meetings 

HMIS System Administrator 

Understand HMIS software and Clarity INVENTORY and can provide insight into potential workflows and data collection.  

Attend weekly project meetings 

Funders/Contract Monitors 

Knowledge of housing/shelter portfolios and program requirements. 

Attend weekly project meetings

Housing/Shelter Providers

Understand workflows for programs and have knowledge of each program’s bed and unit information.  

Involved in data collection and offer opinions on recommendations presented by the workgroup 

Coordinated Entry Staff 

Knowledge of the current coordinated entry matchmaking practices. 

Attend weekly project meetings


 

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1.4 Define Roles and Responsibilities

Now that you have established your workgroup and stakeholder involvement, it’s important to define roles and responsibilities to ensure tasks are completed and successful management of the project. 

ROLE

RESPONSIBILITY

Project Management 

Coordinates the entire lifecycle of the project from planning to rollout, leads communication with the project team, ensures project deliverables are completed.  

Communication 

Plans and completes all project communication to stakeholders outside of the project workgroup to inform them of project goals, timelines, and other key information. 

Data Collection

Oversees the data collection of site, building, unit configuration, unit, and bed information from all service providers and/or property managers. 

INVENTORY Configuration 

Configures all components of Clarity INVENTORY in the community’s live and training instances (if applicable)

Unit/Bed Assignment Configuration 

Oversees the completion of initial client unit/bed assignments once Clarity INVENTORY is created. 

Report Development 

Drafts report specifications and develops reporting tools to monitor system performance and data accuracy. 

Training Content Development 

Develops training materials which may include slides, job aids, and workflow diagrams. 

Training Facilitation 

Conducts training for staff impacted by workflow changes. 


 

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1.5  Build Clarity INVENTORY Knowledge

Building Clarity INVENTORY knowledge among members of the workgroup and involved stakeholders will be critical to the success of the project. Understanding the module will inform decisions about workflows, how to build out Clarity INVENTORY, and how to integrate INVENTORY into your homeless response system. 

A) Start with a demo from one of our Clarity INVENTORY subject matter experts.

We can provide a thorough overview, offer insight into how other communities are using Clarity INVENTORY, and answer questions you may have about specifics for your community.

B) Dig into our Help Center Content 

Start with the following articles from our Clarity Human Services: INVENTORY section of the Help Center. Continue to read additional articles once you’ve started to build foundational knowledge. 

C) Watch the INVENTORY Overview video.  

D) Explore INVENTORY in your training instance, if your community has one.

You’re free to start exploring Clarity INVENTORY at any time. Use the Help Center articles above to help you practice setting up your INVENTORY configuration, assigning clients to units, making referrals, and exploring the INVENTORY Dashboard. We strongly recommend you only practice in your training instance. Configuration should not be completed in your live instance until you’re 100% confident you have it correct.  


2. Current State Analysis

After planning your project infrastructure, it’s time to dig into your housing and shelter portfolio, referral processes, and data and reporting. 


 

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2.1 Understand your Housing and Shelter Portfolio

Understanding your housing and shelter portfolio will impact the configuration decisions made for INVENTORY.

Ask questions such as:

  • Do we have any scattered site housing? Scattered site housing may not have a specific site or building where clients reside. In these circumstances, communities should consider using Standalone Units as a configuration option. 

  • Do we have any buildings that house more than one program? INVENTORY provides many configuration options which includes the ability to set up multiple buildings under one site or connect the units within one building to multiple programs. Identifying these buildings will help you make informed configuration decisions.

  • Do we have programs with multiple funding sources? Do these programs need to generate reporting data broken out by funding source? Funding sources can be connected to various layers of INVENTORY. Identifying funding sources early, can help you determine if funding sources need to be connected to any layer other than programs. 
 

 

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2.2 Assess the Use of Clarity Functionality

Some Clarity functionality interacts with INVENTORY in particular ways that may impact configuration and other workflows. Understanding what Clarity functionality your community uses is critical to your planning and project success. System administrators should review the following functionality:

CLARITY FUNCTIONALITY

IMPACT

CONSIDERATIONS

Availability Form/Limited Availability 

When the Bed & Unit Management toggle is enabled for specific programs, it disables the ability to post program openings using the Availability Form. 

This is a program-level setting that can be enabled on a program-by-program basis. When programs are ready to transition to INVENTORY, they will need to stop using the Availability Form once the Bed & Unit Management toggle is enabled.

Program or Funding-Level Eligibility Criteria

If program or funding-level eligibility criteria is already configured, it should be incorporated into your INVENTORY build-out.

Programs can be assigned to Sites, Buildings, Unit Configurations, and Units. This flexibility allows you to connect your established eligibility criteria to INVENTORY. 

Community Queues 

Community queues are connected to various Clarity INVENTORY functionality and may need to be incorporated into workflows. 

INVENTORY does provide the options to connect clients to units without a referral. For communities looking to use a referral workflow, clients must be on a Community Queue in order to be referred to a particular unit or bed using INVENTORY. 

Available Users License

Additional user licenses may be needed to provide users access to specific Clarity INVENTORY functionality. 

Users provided manage access to INVENTORY will require an access role using a system administrator or manager’s license. Communities should determine who needs this level of access and purchase additional licenses, if needed. 

 

 

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2.3 Understand Current Referral Processes

Current referral processes will likely impact the design of a new INVENTORY workflow. We recommend including current coordinated entry matchmaker staff in workflow discussions to ensure your new Clarity INVENTORY workflows align with current practices and results in minimal disruptions to existing processes. 

CurrentReferralProccess


 

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2.4 Analyze Current Data 

To get the most out of Clarity INVENTORY, client occupancy and unit information must stay up to date in order to provide real-time information. When preparing to implement Clarity INVENTORY, it’s important to evaluate current referral and program roster data quality. 

Here are some suggested data quality checks. We encourage communities to develop a data clean-up plan to address data inaccuracies prior to rolling out Clarity INVENTORY.

REPORT

DATA QUALITY CHECK

CORRECTIVE ACTION

[GNRL-106] Program Roster Report 

Run the Program Roster Report for shelter and housing programs. 

Exit clients who are no longer in the program 

Update the household composition for any household that is incorrect on the roster. 

[RFRL-103] Referral Statistics Inbound Report 

Run the Referral Statistics Report and review all pending and pending in-process referrals.

Update the status or complete any referrals where the status is incorrect or has changed. 

Custom Report 

Query program bed, unit, and household type information.

Update any information that is incorrect or out-of-date. 

Custom Report  

Query administrative site information.

Update any site addresses that are out of date. 

 

 

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2.5 Review Reporting Tools 

Successful program or system oversight should include a robust reporting toolkit. Communities should review existing reports and identify which ones will be impacted by changes to your referral processes and bed and unit management. 

You will also want to familiarize yourself with the Clarity Human Services’ Report Library, which includes reports containing bed and unit information. Custom reports may also be needed to fill any gaps in your current reporting toolkit.  

Some potential reporting tools to review include:

  • Referral Timelines 
  • Referral Outcomes 
  • Bed And Unit Availability 
  • Occupancy Reports Including Specific Unit Information 

New reports to consider:

  • Open Unit Report 
  • Unit Status by Building 
  • Offline Unit/Unit Turnover Information  
  • Occupancy information with detailed client information
 

3. Decision-Making

After defining your goals, completing a current state analysis, and understanding your community’s current Clarity usage, you're ready to plan how your community will utilize Clarity INVENTORY. Because Clarity INVENTORY offers a set of flexible tools, making decisions in advance will ensure a consistent approach to configuration. 


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3.1 Establishing a List of Projects

Clarity INVENTORY can be used with a variety of project types. Communities need to establish what projects will benefit from the use of Clarity INVENTORY and what projects should continue to use program-level bed and unit information. 

Projects to include:

  • Permanent housing programs and entry/exit emergency shelter programs- INVENTORY can be used to manage unit and bed availability and occupancy information.
  • RRH/Voucher programs- the flexibility of INVENTORY allows communities to track program openings or slots. 
  • HMIS Participating programs- These programs typically enter data into HMIS and keep referral and unit occupancy information up-to-date

We have highlighted several projects that communities should consider excluding for the following reasons:

  • Safe parking programs- These programs should be categorized as street outreach projects, not emergency shelters. 
  • Emergency Housing Voucher programs (EHV)- These programs may be ending in the near future due to the discontinuation of funding so it may not make sense to include them. 
  • Non-participating programs- These programs do not typically enter data into HMIS and thus would not be able to keep referral and unit occupancy information up-to-date
  • Domestic Violence programs- These are usually non-participating programs and/or data may be captured in a comparable database.

 

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3.2 Determining Manual or Migration Configuration

Clarity INVENTORY allows for customization and granularity through the use of Sites, Buildings, Unit Configuration Types, Units, Bed, and custom fields. Due to the level of detail, initial configuration can become quite time consuming. Communities who don’t have the capacity to complete manual configuration can work with Bitfocus to have all components of Clarity INVENTORY created through a custom data migration. 

MANUAL CONFIGURATION

MIGRATION

Recommended for a few hundred units or beds 

Recommended for over 1000 units or beds

Complete at your own pace

Saves time when creating thousands of units or beds

Can be more time consuming 

Have to prepare a perfect data file that’s used for the migration 

Risk of errors due to manual entry 

Accuracy is guaranteed if file is correct 

 

Please reach out to your BFF or your Community Administration contact if you’d like to explore an INVENTORY migration.


 

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3.3 Designing Workflows 

Now that you’ve completed your current state analysis and decided on the projects that will utilize Clarity INVENTORY, it’s time to design your INVENTORY workflow. Asking yourself some of these questions will help you determine how INVENTORY can fit into or enhance your existing workflows. 

Ask questions such as:

  • Do you make referrals to housing or shelter programs using direct referrals or the Community Queue?
  • Do you have programs that house or shelter clients but do not take referrals from coordinated entry?
  • Will you utilize program or funding-level eligibility that’s configured as part of the matching process?
  • Who will be responsible for changing Unit Configuration Types?
  • Who will be responsible for updating a unit’s status?

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3.4 Deciding on INVENTORY Settings

Clarity INVENTORY has a variety of settings that impact system-level functionality, reporting, automation, and access. The Clarity INVENTORY Decision-Making Guide outlines the settings that are available and what they control. Following the decision-making guide will ensure you discuss all critical settings and allow you to track your progress along the way. 


 

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3.5 Staff INVENTORY Access 

As you get closer to going live, start thinking about the level of INVENTORY access staff will need to complete their work. This may require updating existing access roles or creating new ones. In general, access to the components of Clarity INVENTORY fall into five categories.

INVENTORY Access

 

The Rights Glossary for Access Roles will help you familiarize yourself with the various new access role permissions and what each one controls. After reviewing the glossary, begin mapping out changes to access roles. The Clarity INVENTORY Access Role Mapping template includes sample access roles permissions and a sample access role mapping template.


4. Building Clarity INVENTORY

Decisions have been made, workflows are planned, and knowledge built. Now comes the hard part! Building out INVENTORY in Clarity Human Services takes time, capacity, and provider engagement. 

Building Inventory

 


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4.1 Data Clean-Up

Once Clarity INVENTORY is configured, you will begin connecting clients to units and beds and indicate the status of each unit. Having up-to-date data will allow INVENTORY to reflect real-time information at the time of your rollout. Work with your providers to update any referral and program roster data that may be incorrect.


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4.2 Customizing Screens

Clarity INVENTORY includes its own set of screens called Housing INVENTORY Screens. These screens can be customized to meet your community’s specific needs, allowing you to track information about your housing stock to create a more refined matchmaking process. 

Because Housing INVENTORY screens are system-level screens, if your instance of Clarity includes multiple continuum of cares (CoCs), we recommend consulting with the other CoCs before making any changes. 

For the smoothest data collection process, custom fields should be finalized before data collection begins. The table below lists examples of custom fields for each screen type. 

SITE SCREEN

BUILDING SCREEN

UNIT CONFIGURATION SCREEN

UNIT SCREEN

BED SCREEN

Non-Smoking Campus 

Elevator in Building 

Referral Source 

Private Bathroom in Unit 

Lower Bunk 

24-Hour Staffing 

Free laundry  

ADA Unit 

Shared Bathroom   

Upper Bunk 

On-Site Behavioral Health Services

Wi-Fi in the Building 

Funding Sources

ADA Unit 

Bariatric Bed 


 

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4.3 Data Collection 

Now that you’ve finalized your custom fields for the Housing INVENTORY Screens, you’re ready to start the data collection process. Data collection will require a significant amount of staff time and attention to detail. This involves collaborating with housing providers to collect detailed information about each project included in the project list you created in section 3.1.

In addition to the custom fields identified in the previous phase, data collection should also include the core Housing INVENTORY fields as well. We recommend reviewing this sample data collection template.  


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4.4 Configuration

If your community has decided to complete your Clarity INVENTORY configuration manually, the INVENTORY Configuration Checklist and the INVENTORY Decision Making Guide you completed earlier will help guide you through the steps.  


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4.5 Unit Assignments

Once the components on INVENTORY (Sites, Buildings, Unit Configuration Types, Units, and Beds) have been configured, you should begin assigning the current clients to the unit or bed they’re residing in. Similar to INVENTORY configuration, if your community doesn’t have the capacity to complete manual unit assignments, Bitfocus can create the unit or bed assignments through a custom migration.

Please reach out to your BFF or your Community Administration contact if you’d like to explore an INVENTORY migration. 


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4.6 Report Development

Now it’s time to build reporting tools to support staff using INVENTORY and for program and system oversight. Clarity Human Services provides robust data analysis tools, including the new INVENTORY model, that you can use to dig into your INVENTORY data. There are many possible uses for your INVENTORY data, some of which may overlap with other existing analyses, so start thinking about the stories you want to tell and where you have gaps in your existing tools.  

Here are some reporting examples:

Unit Availability- compile data to provide matchmakers with a snapshot of current unit availability. You may want to look at:

  • Available units; including details and filters so matchmakers can review unit attribute information 
  • Counts of units by each status, including breakdowns by building or agency to provide a high-level oversight of system capacity 

System Functionality Monitoring- compile data to confirm workflows are occurring successfully and INVENTORY is being used properly. You may want to look at:

  • Timeliness of exits from programs/units
  • Offline and inactive units to confirm accuracy 
  • Length of time units are offline (turnover rates) 

Outcomes/Timelines- Compile data to understand how well the system is performing. You may want to look at: 

  • Number of successful referral outcomes
  • Number of unsuccessful referrals/reason for denials 
  • Length of time from assessment to referral
  • Length of time from referral to move-in 

5. Implementation & Go Live

All decisions have been made, workflows planned, and configuration is complete. Now it’s time to prepare your community to start using Clarity INVENTORY.

 

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5.1 Communication

Communication is a key element of any successful project implementation. When creating a communication plan first consider all of the stakeholders who need information about the impending changes. Communication should be catered to the needs of each stakeholder group.

Here are a few examples; check out our sample Communication Plan for more:

All stakeholders:

  • Initial announcement about the project and pending transition
  • High-level status updates throughout the project 

Housing/Shelter Providers:

  • Initial announcement about involvement in the data collection process
  • Meeting to review the data collection requirements

Matchmakers: 

  • Training announcements
  • Go-live prep announcement

Your communication plan should include a communication schedule. We recommend scheduling your first communication as the project kicks-off with follow up communication every 2-3 months. Communication should increase as you approach implementation. 


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5.2 Training & Office Hours

Training community providers requires significant preparation to ensure the training content is well thought out and caters to different learning styles. Ideally, training should occur as close as possible to go-live so staff can put their new knowledge into practice right away. 

During your training process, we recommend a few best practices:

  • Divide training and content by user workflow (i.e., the matchmaker and housing provider workflows should be separate training sessions)
  • Provide a hands-on experience that allows users to explore the new workflow directly
  • Provide a job-aid (digital or paper) that reminds users of the steps from a high-level
  • Make sure users are clear on where to find resources (such as the Clarity Help Center)
  • Make sure users understand how to get support and what kind of responsiveness they can expect

Once you go live with Clarity INVENTORY, plan office hours 2-3 weeks after go-live. This allows you to reinforce details that users may have overlooked and provide additional support to users as they become familiar with their new workflow. We recommend scheduling office hours monthly or until the data quality shows that office hours are no longer necessary. 

Lastly, conduct regular refresher training or provide recorded videos to support existing users and as a way to train new staff coming on board.


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5.3 Go Live

Congratulations are in order! All of your hard work and preparation have paid off, and your community is ready to start using Clarity INVENTORY. Be sure to celebrate your success and express appreciation to everyone who has helped you and your community get to this point. 


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5.4 Oversight

Now that INVENTORY is up and running, begin using the reporting toolkit you put together in section 2.5 to monitor program and system performance. This oversight will provide helpful insights to ensure goals and outcomes are being met, and the system is functioning as expected. Clarity INVENTORY relies on data quality and timeliness to be successful. Use the data to identify successes, areas of improvement, and what to do next. 


In Closing

We hope this toolkit has helped you think through the steps for implementing Clarity INVENTORY in your community. Your rollout process may look different based on your community’s needs, resources, and goals, but hopefully, this toolkit inspired you to consider a wider range of factors when making your plans.

 

Feeling overwhelmed?

 

Interested in Clarity INVENTORY but don’t have the capacity or resources to take this on? We would love to help! Bitfocus Professional Services has helped communities across the country implement Clarity INVENTORY, and we’d love to help you too! Here’s a sample of how we can support you:

    • Analyzing the current state of referral workflows, and housing and shelter stock; making recommendations based on community needs and best practices
    • Designing workflows that make the best use of Clarity features while prioritizing user experience
    • Custom migration to create INVENTORY components or complete unit assignments
    • Designing dashboards to provide insight into INVENTORY data and to support system monitoring
    • Training resource development, and training and support for users 

Please reach out to let us know how we can best support you in reaching your goals!