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U.S. Military Academy – Leveraging Salesforce’s Government Cloud to Enhance Processes

Phase I – USMA Summer Leaders Experience

Background: The United States Military Academy at West Point (USMA) is a well-known institution with a mission “To educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the Nation as an officer in the United States Army.”  The Summer Leader’s Experience offered by West Point gives high school juniors a one-week immersive experience as a cadet to inform their college selection decision. SLE is a fast-paced program consisting of academic classes, military training, physical fitness training, and intramural athletics. SLE sessions are held during the first two weeks of June each year.  HigherEchelon’s objective was to enhance and automate multiple administration processes related to the Academy’s summer leader experience (SLE) program through the implementation of Salesforce Service Cloud, Government Cloud, Communities, and Marketing Cloud.

Problem: The SLE program has between 4500 to 5000 applicants each year, with 1100 positions available for selection. The SLE registration process was a highly manual, paper-based process for the selection, registration, and ongoing management of participant information. Capabilities to automate or manage communication or collaborate with participants did not exist. Payment for the SLE program was submitted via a mailed check or money order.

Solution: HE leveraged Salesforce’s Community Cloud and Service Cloud, within the Government Cloud, to implement an SLE participant solution that is nearly paperless. HE provided online registration and supporting documentation upload capability by creating person accounts, custom objects and a customer community. HE also enabled an AppExchange App, “S-Docs”, to electronically capture and transmit critical information via PDF and leveraged chatter capabilities within the Community Cloud to securely pass documents between participants and USMA personnel. Additionally, we enabled the AppExchange App, “Chargent”, for direct online payment and integration with USMA’s online payment gateway provider, PayPal. Finally, HE implemented FAQ capabilities within the Community Cloud and cases to track and resolve participant issues.

Phase II – USMA Summer Leaders Experience

Background: Phase II of the USMA SLE solution required expanded functionality to incorporate the full program application and offer-extension processes.   In addition, HigherEchelon and USMA became aware of a new data model called the Higher Education Data Architecture (HEDA), that if implemented, would provide a stronger alignment to future investments that Salesforce was making in the Higher Education space.   The goals of Phase II were essentially to make adjustments to the solution to “future-proof” it for the long term, and extend the reach of Salesforce into the existing business processes.

Problem: The SLE program needs to be able to take registered and approved applicants (Phase I scope) and allow them to further engage with the SLE program.  One of the key elements involved registrants selecting preferred coursework, which then had to be balanced on the back-end to ensure available course slots were allotted in a fair and logical manner to requesters.   In a similar process, all registrants had to be assigned to a hierarchy of Platoons, Squads, and available rooming options.

Solution: HE first refactored the solution to accommodate the HEDA data model.   This required a reconfiguration and migration of all content to the upgraded environment.   Once that work was done, we began evaluating the available Lightning components that might be available out-of-the-box to accommodate the flexible ranking of candidate workshop preferences.  HE ended up using Flow and Process builder to collect the registrant preferences and then process them on the back-end.   This process was formerly quite manual involving manipulation of an Excel spreadsheet, and so was a welcome improvement to the program administrators.    Similar toolsets were employed to load-balance and suggest configurations for Platoon, Squads and other registrant groupings.  An integration with the legacy system was implemented via automated Data Loader jobs that refreshed the registrant information hourly.