Salesforce Community for Government – 2 Case Studies

As I discussed in my previous article, Salesforce Community Cloud is becoming increasingly popular in the government space. But these projects can be highly complex, requiring the right focus and structure to be successful. In this article I present two recent Community Cloud solutions we implemented successfully for government clients, along with key lessons learned.

My purpose in sharing these case studies is to demonstrate how public sector organizations can successfully move from inflexible, costly and frustrating legacy community support systems to a better solution using the Salesforce Community Cloud platform.

These cases demonstrate how focusing on five key areas can significantly improve your success rate when implementing Salesforce Community Cloud solutions. This ensures your efforts will positively impact the organization’s mission.

Case Study #1: Charter School Portal

Project Overview

We recently completed a Salesforce Community Cloud solution implementation for a statewide charter school special education assistance program. This state-funded program serves over 400 charter schools through a community application portal. Accepted applicants receive a wide array of special education training and other resources.

Customer Pain Points

The existing custom legacy system was built in-house over a decade ago using custom software code tied to the original design. The customer’s pain points included:

  • Lack of flexibility and configurability. Over the years, the program requirements grew and changed, forcing users to develop manual workarounds and processes for data handling, documents, applicant scoring and communications.
  • Unnecessary complexity.  Legacy design left data structures and workflows overly complicated.
  • Technical Issues. Due to the age of the system and poor availability of needed skillsets, the system had numerous unresolved bugs. Technical maintenance was a huge issue.
  • User management problems. Onboarding and managing users and their permissions was difficult. With a large number of office staff and users from 400+ charter school applicants on the system, user management took a substantial amount of time.
  • Reporting issues. Users were responsible for generating regular 1200-page reports required by the State. This entailed aggregating data from all member schools and new applicants, and organizing it into standard State document formats. This process took weeks.
  • Manual Workarounds.  The system’s failures and functional gaps required the staff to develop elaborate and inefficient manual workarounds.

Project Implementation

Solutions specialists from Propoint Technology completely replaced the existing system using the Salesforce Community Cloud platform. This included:

  • An in-depth Business Process Review supported by User Stories
  • Detailed functional and technical design
  • Detailed functional and technical documentation
  • Implementation of the base Salesforce Community Cloud platform
  • Enhancement of the Salesforce data model
  • Development of Salesforce online forms
  • Definition and implementation of User Roles and Security
  • Workflows and approvals implemented in Process Builder, Flow Designer and APEX code
  • Reports and dashboards
  • Automated alerts, approvals and notifications for internal staff and external applicants

Project Results and Benefits

Replacing inflexible client-server solutions with a configurable cloud platform result in immediate benefits, including:

  • Increased Flexibility.  The system is now configurable by business users (not requiring technical coding skills) to meet both current and future needs.
  • Ease of Integration. The Salesforce platform now allows our client to easily integrate new systems and workflows through a well-developed and secure API. The organization is now investing in Salesforce as a central integration platform for other systems.
  • Reporting and Analytics. We developed a real time Tracking Dashboard — a step-by-step visual workflow monitor showing all in-flight and completed applications. This was not available previously, allowing the team to accurately track and manage over 400 applications concurrently.
  • Best in Class User Experience.  The new system created a modern UI for charter school users (who aren’t Salesforce users) to access the Salesforce platform and enter / manage their application and certification data. The Community UI allows 3-10 external users in each of 400+ applicant organizations to participate in the application, review and certification process. There are also 400-500 existing charter school users who can get training and manage their certification accounts. 30-40 internal users manage the entire process through their own UI workflows. The interactivity and information self-management is saving the organization a massive amount of time and money.
  • Fully Automated.  The process of applying, submitting documents, getting approved, and maintaining certification is now fully automated. Forms, emails, approvals, alerts and reports are automatically generated based on the user’s role and process responsibilities.

Case Study #2: Nurse Education Accreditation Management System

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Project Overview

Propoint provided a Senior Salesforce Project Manager to manage a third-party IT implementation team’s delivery of Salesforce Community Cloud. The client is a national accreditation organization for specialized nurse training programs across the U.S. The accreditation lifecycle for a new nurse training program is between 1.5 to 2 years, and is very extensive. The amount of interactions, data collected and documents submitted and reviewed for each applicant is substantial.

The existing accreditation management system was built with a combination of Microsoft SharePoint portals and MS Dynamics. Despite incorporating modern technology, the processes were extremely manual and mostly occurred outside of the system.

Four total Salesforce Community Portals were implemented. These included:

  • A portal for nurse educational program users
  • A portal for council directors
  • A portal for reviewers
  • A portal for organization staff

Customer Pain Points

The existing custom legacy system was built in-house using C++ with workflows hard-coded to the original design. The customer’s pain points included:

  • Highly Manual. The data gathering and accreditation process was extremely manual. All data and documents were manually maintained in SharePoint portals,email, Excel, etc.
  • Replication. A new SharePoint portal had to be created and maintained for each program (120 educational programs = 120 SharePoint portals)
  • No Reporting and Analytics.  All reporting, while using data from the current accreditation system, was manually done in Excel.
  • System Underutilization. The current system used only 25% of available fields
  • Bad Data. A variety of data issues plagued the existing system, including a lack of data standards, outdated and unmaintained data, missing data, and inaccurate and unvalidated data.
  • Lack of Flexibility. Staff didn’t have the ability to make changes to the existing system, so they had to repurpose existing system fields when they needed to track new data.

Project Implementation

The Propoint Salesforce Project Manager led an Agile implementation team to replace the Microsoft SharePoint-based system. This included:

  • An in-depth Business Process Review supported by User Stories
  • Full technical and functional design and documentation
  • Implementation of Salesforce Community Cloud platform
  • Enhancement of the Salesforce data model
  • Development of multiple custom Salesforce forms
  • Workflows and approvals implemented in Process Builder, Flow Designer and APEX code
  • Reports and dashboards
  • Automated notifications and reminders for internal staff and external applicants
  • End-to-end testing and UAT
  • Client personnel fully engaged in the Agile project, including accreditation specialists and business operations experts, in standups, testing and feedback

Project Results and Benefits

Once the new Community Cloud system was up and running, our nurse accreditation client experienced these results:

  • Business Process Optimization.  A full business process analysis was done with the client’s key team members, resulting in a deep understanding of the current state and optimal state workflows and processes.
  • Automated Processes.  Automated workflows, notifications and reminders were implemented in Salesforce, allowing the users to do much more of their work in the Accreditation system.
  • Automated Workflows and Streamlined Business Processes. Significant automation of highly complex and schedule-based business processes has greatly streamlined the accreditation process workflows. The new system’s UI/UX redesign creates a much improved user experience and greatly simplifies the experience for community portal users.
  • Integrated Document Management. The system includes a custom-developed Salesforce document management capability that allows document storage, organization and reuse for accreditation applications that can contain between 50-200 documents each.
  • Automatic Document Generation. A third-party automated document generation tool was integrated with Salesforce to create formatted documents from inputs in Salesforce forms.
  • Email Integration.  MS Outlook emails were fully integrated with the Salesforce Community Cloud and workflows.
  • Automated One-Click Reporting. Dynamically-generated Salesforce reports with exacting format standards are created with a single click, including strategic reports that use the document generation solution for complex business rule processing.
  • Improved User Tracking. Data for and about community users that was previously tracked in Excel and communicated via email are now gathered via workflows and available in Salesforce in real-time.
  • Improved Operational Resilience. The previous system included an older, unsupported version of SharePoint running in an onsite data center. Migrating to Salesforce greatly improves the supportability and operational resilience of their accreditation management business processes.

Salesforce Community Cloud is a powerful and flexible system for government service organizations. These two Propoint projects demonstrate how we have successfully replaced inefficient and inflexible legacy systems with Salesforce Community Cloud solutions, driving significant benefits for our government clients.

Learn More

If you’d like to discuss the potential for Salesforce Community Cloud in your organization, please feel free to contact me here on LinkedIn or by email at bfoster@propoint-technology.com.