Case Study: Complex Compliance Made Easy at BRIDGE Housing (Part 1 of 2)

Salesforce has been a game changer for our work. Usually when we get notice of an audit, we have just 2-3 weeks to prepare. I needed that amount of time to pause all other work and focus on wrangling years of data to produce a report- a report that determines future funding streams worth millions of dollars. Last month I put Salesforce to the test. I pulled the data needed for an audit in under 2 minutes! What do to with the remaining 3 weeks of time? Dedicate time to making an impact, that’s what.

– Alicia Crawford, Director of Programs, BRIDGE Housing

BRIDGE Housing provides affordable housing in more than 90 communities across California, Oregon, and Washington. Not only do they develop and manage properties, they also provide rich programs and services to their residents. From after-school programs to cooking classes to financial skills and job readiness workshops, BRIDGE properties buzz with more than 16,000 hours of classes a year that build capacity and community among residents.

Funding with a Catch

The majority of funding for these programs comes from a few key government and NGO partners, with strict stipulations around the kind of programming that must be made available to their residents. BRIDGE signs contracts to deliver certain programs at each property. They must deliver these particular programs in order to remain in compliance with their funders and continue receiving this critical funding.

Challenge: Are we in Compliance?

In the past, their program requirements were tracked in a handful of disjointed spreadsheets, scanned flyers, and photocopies of contracts. All of this made it extremely challenging for staff to know exactly what they needed to deliver at a given property, let alone whether or not they actually were meeting those needs. When audits from funders occurred on short notice, it was a manual process to cross-reference spreadsheets of obligations with spreadsheets of programs delivered and ultimately give the funder proof that BRIDGE provided the programming as promised.

A screencap of a terrible, manually color coded spreadsheet, zoomed out too far to see any real detail.

Data tracked prior to Salesforce, in a multi-tab spreadsheet

 

BRIDGE approached Bigger Boat to build a single system of record to track all of this programming and funding compliance data in Salesforce.

Laying the Groundwork

The new system we built for BRIDGE on the Salesforce App Cloud has live data for all the funding contracts and the programs they are required to provide for each. The program staff manages BRIDGE’s program scheduling and resident attendance in Salesforce as well, so delivered programs are connected to funding obligations through a “Fulfillment” object. Obligations and Fulfillments are rolled up to the Property level so that the Community Programs team can quickly compare and assess compliance. Note: find out more about how they track programs they’re offering at each property and the integration with their property management system in Part 2 of this case study.

To give you an idea of the complexity of the compliance requirements, here’s the diagram outlining compliance needs:

Complex data schema showing how compliance is calculated

Click image for larger view

 

A Clearer View of Compliance

Despite the complexity and breadth of the underlying data, we created a simple at-a-glance view of properties and their compliance status. With a Salesforce list view and embedded visual indicators, the team can quickly look down a list of all properties and see where they need to prepare more programming.

List View showing Compliance Indicator badges

These color-coded indicators are useful in list views, printed reports, and on the normal page layouts that BRIDGE staff use every day. They may look fancy, but they’re actually straightforward to build — they’re simply formula fields! If you’re interested in how to implement this simple and effective technique, head over to Christian’s blog.

Compliance Audit? No Sweat!

And when a surprise audit occurs? A quick Salesforce report spits out all the detailed information their funders need to verify compliance, saving days of time manually compiling data from disparate spreadsheets.

Now, the BRIDGE team have a bird’s eye view of their compliance status at all times and they can provide compliance reports with just one click. They can rest easy at night knowing their funding is not in jeopardy and they have a solid, central system where they can track all of their program offerings and resident attendance. Spending less time on manual data collation means that BRIDGE staff can now exit “whack-a-mole” mode and really dedicate time to improving the quality of programming and measuring real resident impact.

Here’s an example of a compliance report listing every program delivered at each property with total hours, compliance categories, and costs as applicable.

A Sample Compliance Report showing groupings by Property and summaries of programming hours

In Part 2 of our case study, find out more about how BRIDGE tracks program attendance at each property and the integration with their property management system for resident data.