Colorado looks to end years of hurt with Salesforce

State Capitol, Denver, Colorado Image credit PIxabay.com/DigitalLove
State Capitol, Denver, Colorado

Salesforce has announced it will deploy Salesforce Service Cloud and Salesforce Analytics in the State of Colorado to replace the existing Colorado Benefits Management Solution (CBMS) that has had a history of issues.

That legacy system was commissioned in 2000 from EDS. In 2011 Fukami and McCubbery wrote a paper “Colorado Benefits Management System (C): Seven Years of Failure” that highlighted the issues CBMS has faced. In 2008 Colorado was 52nd in the nation and its territories for food stamp application timelines. While over time things have improved, this is the latest initiative to solve the problem. Colorado has turned to Salesforce to find a solution.

Deloitte was also named as the implementation partner. Deloitte has assisted Colorado with the old CBMS system for nearly a decade. While they might have had a clean break from the legacy system, Deloitte will have gained a deep understanding of the intricacies of the Colorado CBMS.

Sanjay Shah, principal, public sector, Deloitte Consulting LLP said: “The State of Colorado demonstrated its commitment to innovation and we are pleased to work alongside them to create a unique experience for their citizens. Our State and Local government experience, coupled with our Salesforce technical knowledge, allows Deloitte to provide our clients leading digital government transformation services.”

Objectives set?

The new system will support more than 5,000 county and medical assistance site employees across the state. It will identify those who are eligible for food, cash or medical assistance and the correct amounts.  Timeliness is key. The old system took 45 minutes to enter a single applicant leading to poor response times and a loss of staff morale. While the press release does not state any KPI’s, one wonders whether Colorado will stipulate any timeframe in which an applicant should be processed through the system.

There were several lessons that McCubbrey and Fukami identified in an earlier paper. One hopes that these are applied in the new project. Certainly the State of Colorado will not want to be the subject of the same kind of academic papers again over the next few months. One difference should be the speed of deployment. While no timescales were published, one would expect the Salesforce implementation to be significantly less than the years EDS took to deliver a barely working system.

The advantage, and one of the reasons for choosing Salesforce, was its modular cloud design. This will enable Colorado to roll out in a phased approach, something that was abandoned in the last system. Employees will also have access to the system from anywhere. This enables a more flexible approach to capturing information. It will help the employees and benefit the beneficiaries, the citizens of Colorado.

Measurements key

Suma Nallapati, Secretary of Technology and Chief Information Officer - Governor's Office of Information Technology State of Colorado
Suma Nallapati, Secretary of Technology and Chief Information Officer – Governor’s Office of Information Technology State of Colorado

In deploying Salesforce Analytics the State will also be able to measure its own performance. This will allow it to allocate resources at the pain points of the process. It will also be able to reassess and update processes rapidly to improve any timescales that are lagging. With the use of Salesforce Analytics the state can also analyse the performance down to a county level. This will help to allocate resources and identify excellent or poor performance in its teams. Ultimately it will help identify and spread best practices and improve operational effiiciency

Suma Nallapati, secretary of technology and chief information officer, State of Colorado commented: “Our mission is to leverage next-generation technology that makes it easier for our citizens to engage with their government. By modernizing CBMS, we’ll be able to provide more transparency around performance, implement new ideas faster and provide a better service experience for our citizens.”

What does this mean

The State of Colorado first implemented Salesforce in 2011. It uses Service Cloud for all the interactions with its citizens already. Significantly it rolled out PEAK, the citizen facing Medicaid system using Salesforce. This allows citizens to apply for benefits online. It also enables them to apply using mobile devices.

This latest announcement is part of a legislation back program to consolidate IT systems across the state. Colorado had more than 200 applications to service the needs of its citizens. Kristin Russel, CIO, State of Colorado (2011-2014) commenting on the consolidation said: “It allows us to standardise and provide services to citizens so they don’t have to go to multiple areas to go to multiple areas to try to get their needs met from a government standpoint.”

Those efforts saved more than US$43 million in the first few years. This is merely the latest step on that consolidation journey. It is one that other States will watch closely, especially if Colorado rises up the quality rankings.

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