4-Step Guide to Supporting Students During COVID-19

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This blog post originally appeared on Salesforce.org, co-written by Brittany Harvie, Sr. Principal Customer Success Architect at Salesforce, and Kyla Farroll, Assistant Director, Enterprise CRM at UW–Madison.

Like many universities last fall, the University of Wisconsin–‍Madison faced a multitude of challenges managing the COVID-19 pandemic as students returned to campus. One of the key questions centered around isolation and quarantine: How could the university safely support students living in residence halls who tested positive for COVID-19, or were exposed to the virus?

For UW–Madison, the challenge presented an opportunity to focus on process improvements designed to support students during the relocation process while reducing the time spent on manual tasks by staff — from hours to minutes. Using Salesforce, UW–Madison overcame the unique challenges presented by the pandemic to keep its students safe.

University Welcome Center displaying "Welcome Badgers" sign
For UW–Madison, the COVID-19 pandemic presented an opportunity to focus on process improvements designed to support students.

1. Unify Your Data

Before getting started with building the solution using Education Cloud, the team needed to first identify the various data sources. Next, they determined how to bring that information together to create a unified student record in Salesforce. Because Service Cloud is HIPAA compliant, the university could ensure the protection of student and medical privacy.

At UW–Madison, three primary groups on-campus work together to help manage students in isolation or quarantine: University Housing, University Health Services (UHS), and UW Conference Centers (UWCC). Each plays a different role and use data in separate systems:

  • Housing provides students the ability to live on campus with their fellow Badgers in residence halls and learning communities. They compare reports generated by UHS with their residence hall data to identify impacted students and their roommates.
  • UHS supports students’ health and wellbeing and offers COVID-19 testing for students and employees. In addition to providing reports to Housing, they also calculate and maintain quarantine and isolation release dates for affected students.
  • UWCC coordinates with Housing and affected students to relocate them to isolation and quarantine spaces. They use a reservation system to manage quarantine and isolation locations and also send emails to students and other relevant groups on campus to manage reservations, transportation, and meals.

Altogether, it was a flurry of activity — but in multiple systems and across several silos. To bring the data together, UW–Madison developed an integration strategy leveraging Informatica as their Extract, Transform and Load (ETL) tool to bring in UHS and Housing data into one Salesforce org, known as the Isolation/Quarantine (IQ) Housing org. To automate file retrieval and data loading from UHS to the new Salesforce org multiple times a day, seven days a week, the university developed a new process that gives IQ Housing org users the most updated and actionable data.

By bringing all relevant data into one system, UW–Madison gained a single view of students in quarantine and isolation, which also showed when they were scheduled to be released.

on-campus COVID-19 isolation site
The university integrated all relevant data into one system, resulting in a single view of students in quarantine and isolation.

2. Use EDA Objects

By utilizing a brand new EDA org,​ UW–Madison increased their time to value and rapidly built the solution. Despite having a multi-org footprint on campus, none of the existing Salesforce orgs aligned with this use case — and time was of the essence to build a solution. Having a flexible platform that could quickly adapt to new needs made a quick turnaround time possible.

The EDA data model provided a great starting point, especially with the Relationship object, which represents a connection between two contacts. By loading student and roommate data, UW–Madison could quickly identify students who needed to be quarantined when their roommates tested positive for COVID-19. Seeing the Relationship related list on the Contact record provides valuable information while working with students, as users can immediately see why a particular student needed to be moved into quarantine.

students wearing masks entering Witte Hall
The university integrated all relevant data into one system, resulting in a single view of students in quarantine and isolation.

3. Utilize Service Cloud for Case Management

With an eye toward automating manual efforts involved in managing isolation and quarantine, UW–Madison got to work reviewing which processes could be automated using standard Salesforce functionality. These manual processes provided an opportunity for the Salesforce team to leverage configuration-based automation, creating efficiencies and eliminating manual work.

By utilizing standard Service Cloud functionality combined with EDA, UW–Madison was able to use cases to support multiple scenarios to manage quarantine and isolation records. Data is brought in from UHS via an integration through Informatica to create new cases, with specific types of data triggering the creation of isolation and quarantine cases. If a student who tested positive for COVID-19 has a roommate, a quarantine case for the roommate is created, using relationship object data along with the isolation case for the student with the UHS record.

UW made other improvements using the out-of-the-box Service Cloud tool, including the following:

  • Prior to Salesforce, Housing would provide information daily to residence halls about students who were relocating to isolation or quarantine, as well as those returning. Using automation, an email is triggered twice a day with an attached report to a designated Housing email address showing students’ relocation information.
  • UHS used to manually calculate and provide visibility into quarantine and isolation release dates.​ Using automation with Process Builder, these dates are now automatically calculated based on different scenarios.

Last fall, this relocation process was managed by using reports from multiple systems, spreadsheets, and a reservation system that was visible only to UWCC. Now, the entire relocation process, from identification to clearance, is managed on the case record in Salesforce. Combinations of picklist values from several fields trigger different emails, which pull in data from the case record, such as the quarantine or isolation location information that’s stored in account records and selected on the case.

4. Gain Efficiency and Data Visibility

In addition to the benefits of combined data and automation, the teams have also seen a decrease in the time dedicated to managing multiple reports, communications, and manual calculations.

For example, Housing estimated that prior to Salesforce, they were spending anywhere from 15-60 minutes, 4 times per day, running and comparing reports. Salesforce has reduced that time from 1-4 hours a day to a few minutes a day — and that’s only when reviewing exceptions. UHS clinician time dedicated to manually tracking isolations and quarantines as well as calculating release dates reduced by as much as 80%. Because the UWCC team is now managing their relocation process in Salesforce, both UHS and Housing now have a view into when and where the student has temporarily relocated.

From discovery to go-live, UW–Madison was able to deliver an MVP solution in just under a month by bringing together data from disparate sources and taking advantage of standard EDA and Service Cloud functionality. The process UW–Madison followed can help other campuses create a plan to meet the complex needs brought about by COVID-19 creating isolation and quarantine solutions to keep students safer this spring semester.

For more details on UW–Madison’s isolation and quarantine processes, you can view Kyla Farroll’s presentation at the Information & Technology Leadership Conference 2020.