Modular Court Technology: The Court Component Model

modular court technology

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There is an alarming trend among court managers — the tendency to acquire technology without fully understanding how it works, or if it will translate to success in their specific court. They may also fail to recognize that their newly adopted suite of court management services will likely no longer meet their needs in a few short years. With new technology hitting shelves every day, court managers may feel overwhelmed when deciding on a solution to meet their business requirements. Fortunately, courts can take a modular approach to technology adoption, called court component modeling, that will equip them to adapt to new challenges.

What is court component modeling?

One way to define court component modeling (CCM) is to compare it to the traditional approach to court technology. Most case management systems (CMSs) are applied as monolithic, one-size-fits-all suites; while comprehensive in some cases, this approach is known to be ineffective in a rapidly evolving market. In contrast, the component model is highly modular and allows courts to mix and match programs for their individual needs, even if the programs come from multiple vendors. With CCM, courts can adopt technology based on their business strategy — rather than the other way around — and meet emerging business requirements by adjusting or supplementing their components instead of replacing an entire suite.

Components are also designed to be platform-agnostic in their interactions with other programs, independently deployable, and highly scalable. When combined with guidance from a trusted technology provider such as nCourt, these components will be easier to adopt and use than full, restrictive suites.

How is a court component model implemented?

In order to begin the adoption process, court managers should assess their business needs by asking themselves and their team a range of questions, including:

  • What tools will allow us to meet our current needs without restricting us in the future?
  • What are the gaps in our technological environment, and what technologies exist to help us fill those gaps?
  • What are the needs of our citizens, and how will the tools we select improve their access to procedural justice?

It may also help for court leaders to view their computing environment as an array of technological building blocks, rather than a consolidated CMS. From there, they can decide which components to use.

Components often are categorized as either case management or supplemental components. Case management components may include the central case manager many courts are accustomed to, as well as a financial manager and a document manager. Supplemental components may include e-filing tools, evidence management, and ePayment services. There are many more, depending on the provider, but the beauty of the component model is that it allows courts to exclusively pick and choose the tools they need to manage cases.

What are the benefits of court component modeling?

By creating a modular technological environment that can evolve with the market, CCM positions court professionals to be ready for the future. It also enables them to fill the gaps in service that may have existed under the traditional approach to technology. Courts that adopt CCM-based systems will be free to create a best-in-class solution composed of components from diverse vendors.

Inflexible courtroom technology can create challenges for clerks and professionals alike. With the help of the court component model, however, court leaders can make real change in this area. When court leaders do the proper research and choose the components that will have the greatest impact in their court environment, they will be better equipped to face coming changes in the industry.

The market for court technology is evolving faster than ever. Fortunately, nCourt is here to help local and state courts adapt to these changes and serve their citizens. Contact us today to learn more.


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Digital Payment Solutions for Child Support

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For parents and children in the child support system, nothing is quite as important as ensuring payments are delivered on time and with regularity. A missed payment may create an undue financial burden on custodial parents and their children. Delays can similarly cause unwanted strain on court professionals; the time and energy they spend tracking down payments could be better used serving citizens. What are parents, children, and clerks to do?

What are the drawbacks of the traditional system?

The traditional methods of collecting court-ordered child support payments rely on factors that are too often unreliable. These include payments delivered in-person or by mail in the form of cash, check, money order, or bank draft. The risk of a late or even missed payment increases when courts and citizens are restricted to these methods, which may, in turn, cause challenges for all parties involved.

The traditional system also requires extensive resources from the court; the cost of paper checks, supporting documents, and postage can add up quickly. In addition, the court’s reliance on human clerks to manually process each payment increases the risk of data entry errors, which cause even more delays. The issue is that regular child support payments are expected within a system that cannot guarantee regularity. The question we are left with is, “How can providers ensure that regularity?”

online payment

How can a digital payment solution help?

Modern technology means modern solutions in the form of digital child support payments. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the precedent for digital payment options has been in place for some years. The challenge for courts lies in implementing this digital technology.

In many cases, digital payment options include direct deposits to a custodial parent’s bank account or payments deposited into a stored value card account. Some payment providers even allow citizens to use online services such as PayPal. With tools designed to make the process as efficient as possible, digital payment solutions offer benefits across the board at little to no extra cost to state governments.

  • Recurring payments This helps reduce the financial strain on families that may not be able to deliver cash payments on a timely basis. Thanks to options such as automatic recurring payments and guaranteed funds options, citizens can follow plans that suit their circumstances.
  • Fewer delays When citizens can pay from anywhere, at any time, and in minutes, they have a greater incentive than ever to be on time. Similarly, digital payments help court professionals cut down on processing time, and custodial parents are guaranteed to receive their payments much faster.
  • Lower burden on clerks Court professionals can track payments more easily and face shorter lines. Likewise, they can spend less time manually logging payments, allowing them to focus their efforts on helping citizens face-to-face.
  • Reduced financial impact Although some citizens will prefer to pay in person or by mail, courts will pay less overall for paper checks, documents, postage, and processing.

Courts that offer a spread of digital payment options, including one-time, recurring, and partial payments help citizens make payments on time and without undue hardship. Having these options in place increases the likelihood that payments will be made on time and in full.

It pays to go digital

With the help of digital payment options for child support, citizens will have greater confidence in their court and can take comfort in knowing that their access to justice extends to child support services. Digital payments help reduce the financial strain on custodial parents and children, helping all parties achieve a new peace of mind.

nCourt offers digital payment solutions for child support at the local and state levels. To learn more, contact an nCourt expert today.


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Payment Processing 101: It’s an Ecosystem

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Not so many years ago, payment options simply included cash, checks, and credit cards. Today, the options seem limitless as individuals are making online payments around-the-clock and employing technologies such as mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) and mobile wallet, among others. The evolution and adoption of financial technology (fintech) and payment processing continues at a rapid pace. As one Entrepreneur article states, “The reality is, new breakthrough technologies and digitization initiatives are reinventing the ‘art of the possible’ in payments and ushering in a new world of multiple wallets, ‘devices,’ and supporting infrastructure. More specifically, they are simplifying the payment process and rendering it invisible.”

As payment options continue to evolve, many people today simply swipe, tap, or flash their mobile wallets without a thought to the complex ecosystem involved in the transfer of funds. What really happens to these processed payments and what does this mean for the future of court and government payments?

smartphone paymentSmartphones have allowed for an extensive ecosystem of digital payments. Enabling payment options such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay allow smartphone users to experience mobile wallets easily. In a world where individuals are becoming not only accustomed to but also expectant of instant gratification, payment processing is becoming increasingly simplified. These instant payment options are widespread in both formal and informal payment scenarios, ranging from shopping, utilities, citations, bail, tuition, taxes, and more.

Thousands of companies are developing transaction options and updates for users to stay ahead of trends. Because so many companies are competing and collaborating to facilitate transactions both within and outside the fintech market, product competency and customer support are imperative for success. And with so many options, user education is critical. Finding and working with the right company can help ensure streamlined payment transactions.

The payment processing landscape

From the user(s) perspective, processing payments seems quite simple — you either make a purchase or accept electronic payments — but behind the scenes is a makeup of sophisticated and complex interdependencies and players — all interfacing, communicating, and exchanging data within their respective technology to facilitate the complete cycle of the payment transaction.

Below is a simplified overview of nCourt’s processing activities within the payment ecosystem:

  1. User — Makes a payment utilizing processing solutions offered by the court or government agency
  2. Court or government agency — Receives the user’s payment via the payment facilitator’s processing solutions
  3. Payment facilitator — Provides technology, payment platform, and value-added services – securely captures electronic transaction data for court or government agency and transfers appropriate data
  4. Gateway or processor — Receives data transfer file from payment facilitator for submission to card association such as Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, and Discover
  5. Card association — Routes the transaction data to the respective issuing bank for settlement
  6. Issuing bank — Approves or declines transaction data and submits response back to payment facilitator, sends credit card statement to user
  7. User — Is billed amount via the ticket or citation statement issued by the court or government agency, pays back the issuing bank
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Keeping up with a changing payment landscape

The speed of change in the payment ecosystem makes it difficult to stay up-to-date, which is why many courts and government agencies rely on third-party payment providers to help pave the way for innovative payment solutions. An experienced and knowledgeable partner not only helps to reduce costs and ensure seamless funds transfers but also stays abreast of next-generation payment options so courts and government agencies can focus on what they do best — serving the public.

With payment methodologies being driven more by end-users than ever before, it’s becoming equally important for the public sector to make payments as conveniently and seamlessly as possible. Consumers will continue to be the pivoting factor changing the payment landscape, so it’s important to partner with a provider who understands payments and the technology relevant to your market and organization.

[cta]With nCourt, payment processing becomes seamless, enabling you to provide online, mobile, counter, phone, and retail store payment options to make payments effortless and convenient. Learn more.[/cta]

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