The City of Los Angeles hired Launchpad to develop a reporting and tracking application built on the Force.com cloud platform for its BusinessSource System, the city’s One-Stop Resource Centers for Small Businesses.
Launchpad developed and deployed the application, and within 90 days of going live the city reduced reporting times from 6 months to real-time and increased reporting outcomes by 400%.
The Los Angeles Economic & Workforce Department Development, the City of Los Angeles’ lead agency for Workforce, Economic and Community Development, has been providing services to city residents for over 30 years. As one of the largest city-government agencies in the country, the department serves millions of citizens through dozens of workforce, youth, and family development centers, providing a wide range of services from workforce training programs to financial and technical assistance to small businesses.
In 2011, the City launched its newest one-stop center network, BusinessSource (formerly the Los Angeles Business Assistance Program) to bring together all of the city’s small business and entrepreneurial resources under a single brand and providing greater access to the community by opening eight local BusinessSource centers throughout the city.
The goal of the BusinessSource network is to provide entrepreneurs, fast growth startups and small businesses, consulting, financing through loans, employment and workforce development, business plan development, tax incentives and credits, and business training courses.
EWDD knew they needed a better way to effectively track and report outcomes of its sub-contracted service providers. At the time, the city was using an ad-hoc of reporting and tracking tools, from home grown system to excel spreadsheets. On top of that, many of its subcontractors were using their own data-management systems adding to the complexity and cost of reporting.
Internally, they estimated it took up to 6 months and costs approximately $1 million in time and resources to get reports making it very difficult for them to manage accountability, drive outcomes and report measurable community impact to city, state and federal funding sources.
Now that they were launching the new BusinessSource network, the department wanted a tool that would give them real-time data on program activities and outcomes, manage service providers equally, extend additional capabilities to providers and be completely web-based and customizable allowing them to connect with other programs such as WorkSource.
How Launchpad helped
Launchpad worked with EWDD staff from the beginning to ensure the project met the goals of the department: Obtaining real-time data on program activities and outcomes, ability to manage service providers performance, standardize business process and increase the capabilities of service providers to deliver city services to small business.
Assessed current business process
Launchpad’s team scheduled several meetings with the EWDD staff as well as service provider staff to document and catalogue current business processes. We wanted to know how services were currently being delivered across the network. Our assessment included reviewing existing data tracking systems, business processes, reports, roles and responsibilities, documents and outcome goals.
Once we had clear picture of the existing business processes we were able to clearly identify areas of inefficiency. For example, our meeting with the service providers uncovered the surprisingly different processes and paperwork they were using to complete the same services. Some agencies were more streamlined than others, and we identified huge opportunities for efficiency gains across the network.
Developed unified and standardized business process
A major goal for LAEWDD was to make the BusinessSource network “franchise-able”, meaning all locations, present and future, would use standardized, repeatable processes. Prior to implementation of the platform, processes varied from provider to provider, so we worked with them to identify a common set of processes, mapped them into a workflow and programmed them into the system.
One particular opportunity for efficiency gains was in automation. Activities such as sending referrals or assigning consultants to business could all be automated according to business rules and logic built into the platform. These activities, which had been achieved manually, reduced the workload of staff and freed them up to spend more time with clients.
Another significant opportunity was to make the process 99% paperless. It took 24 or more separate documents to intake, track, and report on each client going through the BusinessSource system. We took the complex, detailed information being captured on paper and synthesize it all in one screen in the platform. Now the staff only uses a federal verification form that requires a physical signature.
Identified key reporting outcomes metrics
The catalyst for implementing such a system was to improve reporting and accountability and one of the key benefits of the Force.com platform is its robust reporting and forecasting capabilities. Our consultants worked with LA EWDD to identify the key metrics (scorecards) to track and determine how to represent them in a dashboard. Additionally, we set up different sets of dashboards based on permissions hierarchy so each region’s staff management could identify problems before they fell short of goals. LA EWDD management and auditors could see those dashboards and others showing a roll-up of data for the entire BusinessSource network.
Developed and launched application based on business process
It took approximately 30 days to perform an in-depth analysis on the business process, and customizing the application to fit their unique requirements took only 6 weeks. Using an iterative development approach, we implemented additional features and enhancements in a series of roll-outs based on user and manager feedback.
User training and adoption
One of the critical success factors for any CRM implementation for government is the adoption of the technology by the staff. To assist the BusinessSource staff with adoption and use of the system we provided several training opportunities for the system. We also trained super users and “champions” so they could help encourage adoption from the inside and advised LA EWDD management on strategies for promoting adoption through metrics and activity management.
Once the system went live and the various users and managers had been trained, we also provided considerable ongoing support, which included ongoing webinar and in person training.
With the new BusinessSource system in place LAEWDD emerged from a myriad of complex and outdated systems and processes into one standard platform to track and report data. They reduced reporting times from 6 months down to real-time, giving management and funders increased visibility into the economic development activities. They also saw an immediate 400% increase in reporting outcomes, data with which they now more effectively manage the accountability of service providers. Additionally, with standardized processes and automation, service providers were more productive and did more with less, helping them to deliver small business services more efficiently.
Future system flexibility
Lastly, one of LAEWDD’s top criteria for choosing a new system was the ability to make changes, add functionality and integrate other funding programs into the platform later. This is where the Force.com platform provided significant advantages. Because the system is “apps” based and development is “clicks, not code” EWDD can easily add fields to track data for new grants, change requirements as needed, or add more providers and locations, growing the system affordably.
Are you still managing Workforce, Economic or Community Development programs on spreadsheets and paper? Do you want to increase outcomes and attract more funding, but don’t have real-time data? We have helped dozens of government and non-profit agencies, improve outcomes and attract more funding through cloud technology adoption, process consulting and staff development. Launchpad’s philosophy is summed up in two words: passion and innovation. We strive to invigorate economic, workforce and community development with the latest in technology and improved processes, amplifying our clients’ ability to develop the communities and people they serve.