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How Organizations Use Data to Scale Service Delivery

By Guest Author September 9, 2022

By: Marjorie Justice, Creative and Technical Writer, Provisio Partners

Many human services agencies struggle to share program outcomes with funders and use data to understand how their programs are performing. Institute for Career Development and Asian Human Services worked with Provisio Partners to reimagine how they delivered human services. They share how they are scaling service delivery using data to gain a holistic view of their clients and programs.

Breaking Down Data Silos & Using Automation

Institute for Career Development (ICD) struggled with silos before moving to Salesforce. They worked predominantly with Excel spreadsheets and Microsoft Access to manage their billing transactions. Because their client files and program data were paper-based, they were forced to double the data entry into those spreadsheets. 

Their clients go through several departments on their service journeys — from evaluation to training and job placement — but each department was siloed, making it difficult to view each client’s progress. All of these data silos made it hard to access client data and report on impact and outcomes. There were “lots of guessing games,” said Dio Gaca, president of programs and operations. It was hard to determine whether they were meeting performance metrics. 

It was also causing ICD to lose money. ICD does not receive funds up front from grantors; they receive their reimbursements only after ICD delivers services. Their siloed data meant that money was always left on the table. 

After implementing Salesforce with Provisio Partners, ICD is now able to capture outcomes more effectively. Using Nonprofit Cloud Case Management, they can efficiently monitor client progress and report on key targets and performance metrics through dashboards and reports. And because data can be viewed on a single page, they can follow every client’s progress through various services. 

For example, they can easily track when someone is in the middle of a job search, when they were hired, and whether they retained their job for up to 90 days — a critical milestone for people with disabilities. 

And those billing issues they struggled with previously? Logging all of their services through Salesforce has saved them approximately half a million dollars in one year because they are reimbursed for each of their services. 

By moving to a single system, ICD eliminated data silos, allowing them to better track the impact of their services on each client over time. And this is just the beginning. They are actively working in phases to continue to build out their system to improve processes to serve more clients.

From a Transactional to Transformational Relationship

“Data journeys are truly a progression,” said Rebecca Creighton, COO of Asian Human Services (AHS). Their organization started on a similar path as ICD, facing many of the same challenges (like those siloed Excel spreadsheets) before their Salesforce implementation six years ago. 

During the pandemic, AHS asked themselves, ‘how can we do better?’ Their mission to make their immigrant clients healthy, educated, and employed became even more critical, and they wanted to do more to support them. 

“In order to move from a transactional organization to a transformational organization, we had a lot of work to do,” said Creighton.

Salesforce for Nonprofits Stakeholder 360 allows them to see a holistic view of the whole household to ensure they are servicing the entire family. However, they knew many clients were moving outside of Chicago due to the high cost of living in the city. They also knew the suburbs would not be able to provide the same resources that AHS could. Just because these families moved did not mean they did not need the same support.

To continue to expand services outside of Chicago, they needed to map their data. They wanted a visual way to identify children who were eligible for programming based on poverty levels. This is where Tableau comes in: to visually show where families were and what they needed.

Through surveys, here is just a sample of what they learned:

  • 20% of their families struggled with food insecurity. Viewing this data on a map allowed AHS to develop their programming to the appropriate locations and connect families to food pantries.
  • 50% of their families felt limited by language barriers. They had difficulty receiving services because of English difficulties. AHS could offer them year-round ESL adult education classes.

All this essential data is stored on a secure server that staff can access to see how each client is progressing based on areas like economic factors, educational progress, and health data. The maps highlight trends and enable AHS to share their impact to funders. 

Creighton explains that the ability to turn your data into a visual representation is how you transform your numbers into stories with pictures. And those stories hit on so many levels, from motivating staff to inspiring funders. By using data visualization, AHS uses real-time data to  inform their growth strategy and ensures they expand their services in an informed and data-driven way.

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Marjorie Justice is a Creative and Technical writer for Provisio Partners. She received her Master’s degree in English from Truman State University and lives in Saint Louis, Missouri.