By: Eric Kenney, Applications Manager & Salesforce Admin, University of Utah College of Nursing
Welcome to part 2 of the Higher Education Data Architecture (HEDA) blog series. In part 1, we covered the fundamentals of HEDA and the latest innovation coming from the HEDA product team. In this blog post, we’ll talk about what it means to migrate to HEDA. We’re excited to feature Eric Kenney, an Applications Manager & Salesforce Admin at the University of Utah College of Nursing.
So, let’s dive right in and learn about Eric’s HEDA migration story.
Managing 1,000 Students and Counting
As a member of the Salesforce Higher Ed community for the past two years, I’m excited to contribute to the HEDA blog series and share my personal HEDA migration story. Before I dive into HEDA, I’ll start off with a little bit of background on the University of Utah College of Nursing.
The University of Utah College of Nursing is the only nursing school that is PhD-granting and associated with a world-class research medical center in the intermountain west. We have approximately 1,000 active students across four academic programs (baccalaureate, Masters, Doctor of Nursing Practice, and PhD), post-graduate certificates, and advanced practice registered nursing certification. When I joined the college in March 2016, it was clear that the College of Nursing wasn’t using Salesforce to its full advantage. Instead, Salesforce was being used primarily as a glorified spreadsheet. The team was using three external application programs where CSV files were exported, transformed into a usable format, then uploaded into Salesforce. Managing so many students is not an easy task but off the bat, I saw an opportunity to transform how we use Salesforce for applications and admissions.
From Challenge to Opportunity
A bucket account record, redundant objects, duplicative fields, inconsistency, and no formalized data architecture – these were just a few of the issues I faced when I started to dig into our Salesforce org. Most of the fields on many of the objects were exactly the same or similar enough that they could have easily worked on a global level. These same fields were error-prone allowing for inconsistencies. I spent countless hours trying to customize our org to fit the needs of the college. I added new formula fields, implemented global picklist values, built new picklist fields and migrated student data from the old fields to the new ones. To say that I was knee deep in student data would be an understatement. I knew there had to be a way to streamline this process or better yet, an opportunity to access a single view of all of our applicants.
Driving Our Path to HEDA
In late 2016, the college worked with Salesforce.org Education Cloud partner, Enrollment Rx, to help streamline our application and enrollment process. I worked with Enrollment Rx to create a scope of work and an aggressive six-week implementation timeline. Our implementation was prior to Enrollment Rx becoming “HEDA Core Compatible,” but they utilized a very similar model. I would call it “HEDA-lite.” Everything Enrollment Rx handled (advisement, changes to their managed package, and code) was done remotely by the Enrollment Rx team. I customized and developed the Salesforce configurations outside of the managed package (reports, lists, dynamic application queries, and specific object customizations) and managed data conversion from the deprecated objects to the newly created ones. We met our six-week timeline, mostly because I was committed to being an active participant in the development process. This was my org and it was critical for me to fully understand all the changes that were being made. I would recommend every admin take the same mindset. I may not have known it then, but being fully involved in the Enrollment Rx project was critical in paving our pathway to HEDA.
Migrating to HEDA
After a year, I decided it was time to convert our org fully to HEDA. I knew there had been some talks with campus executives about a possible campus-wide CRM solution, with Salesforce.org Education Cloud at the center, and I wanted our org to be HEDA-ready. Shortly after our graduate application cycle closed in January 2018, I went to Trailhead to learn more about HEDA and completed the HEDA Basics module. I followed up with an email to Enrollment Rx asking what would be involved to migrate our org fully to HEDA. We talked on the phone to discuss my options and I realized pretty quickly that I could do the migration on my own with some planning. As long as I didn’t rush into it, thought about how each piece fits together and was meticulous in identifying existing relationships between objects, I would be successful. My journey to HEDA had begun.
I set up a dev org and installed HEDA from the AppExchange so I could see what I had presently and where I needed to get to in the end. I documented every field in every object that was going to be affected. I paid close attention to the deprecated object’s records and how I would migrate those over to their new home. It is during this process that I started to fully realize truly how much duplication existed. In some cases, there were fields within the same object that literally had the same information. All of those fields that we had created over the years needed to have a corresponding field in their new object home. I needed to create all of those custom fields. Salesforce Schema Builder was incredibly helpful in this process and was my best friend for a full week.
Steps to Success
There were several steps that I took as I got all the data ready to migrate from the old objects to the new ones. As with any major undertaking with a Salesforce org, run a complete backup! You always want something to roll back to if you run into problems. Second, install the HEDA managed package. Third, create two new formula fields on each object: the first is a case safe record ID and the second is a case safe ID of the record’s parent. Fourth, export out all records for each object with all fields. I found Data Loader to be easier and quicker than building reports, but either way would work just fine. Name those CSV files something useful (contacts, ug_apps, gr_apps etc.). Otherwise, you’ll come back to work on Monday and look at the downloaded files and go, “which object is this?” And report21737594537575.csv is not going to suffice. Next, clean up the data to match the new fields. Finally, import all the data into their new object homes. Voila! You have migrated to HEDA!
Presently, all my objects and records are within the HEDA data model. The conversion to HEDA has led college leadership to explore using our data more holistically, not just for the application process. HEDA allows us to have a 360-degree view of our applicants starting with the time they first inquire about our program all the way through graduation. Now that we have HEDA, the college will be replacing a legacy software package that requires us to rent a virtualized server running an older OS from the main campus. Starting in October, we will be using the Course, Course Offering, Course Connection, and Program Enrollment objects to replace that legacy program. Salesforce and Enrollment Rx have transformed how the University of Utah College of Nursing interacts with our students, from their first interaction with us to their journey as alumni.
The Power of the Salesforce Community
The entire HEDA migration process from initial planning to deleting the deprecated objects was about six weeks: about two weeks of planning and four weeks of conversion. I could have done this entirely on my own, but I sought guidance from the Salesforce community to make sure I was following best practices, and not falling into pitfalls. My three main resources were my local Salesforce Saturday group, other Salesforce users and staff on Twitter, and scrolling through search results on the Power Of Us Hub.
The collective Salesforce knowledge that exists in the world is mesmerizing. LeeAnne Rimel, Principal Admin Evangelist, said to Gillian Bruce, Admin Evangelist, on the Salesforce Admins podcast that everyone has something to teach. The experience I continue to have with Salesforce proves this statement to be true every day.
If you are going to be at Dreamforce, come say hi. I am excited to share my knowledge and HEDA experience in the session entitled “Headache to HEDA: How Enrollment Rx, Twitter, and the Power of Us Hub Helped Reshape My Org” on Wednesday, September 26 at 12:30 PM PT.
About the Author
Eric Kenney is a certified Platform App Builder, Trailhead double Ranger, and an active member of Salt Lake area user groups. Outside of his work with the University of Utah, he is also a student and co-runs a local social nonprofit for LGBT+ individuals.