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Colleges and Universities seek accreditation for multiple reasons: access to federal financing, the desire for self-improvement, and ever changing state law accreditation mandates. WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) is one of seven regional accreditors in the United States. WSCUC works to assure quality, help universities improve their own offerings, keep up with ever-changing state and federal requirements and through accreditation allow colleges to provide their students access to federal financial aid.
WSCUC serves more than 200 colleges and universities across California, Hawaii and the Pacific including household names like the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford, and newer institutions seeking accreditation for the first time. Accreditation reviews are conducted with the help of thousands of volunteer peer reviewers, so both member universities and volunteer reviewers need access to documents and data, along with roughly 25 WSCUC staffers.
“Between student loan debt, job placement and the ROI of a college degree, there’s more focus on the quality assurance provided by accreditation than ever,” said WSCUC CIO Henry Hernandez. “WSCUC has to evolve and improve our responsiveness to stakeholders in terms of efficiency, effectiveness and transparency.” That includes keeping costs down, a necessity for a nonprofit that largely serves other nonprofits.
Migrating From a Proprietary System
Hernandez was referred to Presence from another accreditation nonprofit, reflecting a unique understanding of the industry. “From the very first questions Presence started asking us, we thought, ‘This is going to work. These guys get it,’” Hernandez recalled. “They understood the business concerns and knew how to connect the dots to get an implementation up and running.”
WSCUC knew they wanted to move from their proprietary system to Salesforce. Multiple websites were pulling data from the legacy MSQL server and staff primarily used Access as the database front end. Though their existing solution kept their work going, it did not allow for the automations, easy remote connectivity or integrations they knew they needed. During the migration to Salesforce the goal was to implement WSCUC’s Salesforce solution, get all of the data migrated over, and get the websites pointed to the new system without interrupting ongoing work.
Sounds straight-forward, right? Sure, except that there was a year’s worth of work to be done, and only four months to do it.
Deadlines Met and Then Some
It took more than a few long nights, but Presence got it all done — and then some — in time to go live for the busy period that starts the year. We built out WSCUC’s new Salesforce instance and migrated all of their data over to the new solution. Along the way we worked with them to shore up a few internal processes, streamline their data model and made sure that their Drupal vendor was able to integrate the websites to the new Salesforce solution.
We also built and launched a new WSCUC volunteer portal. Volunteers can log into the portal to create and manage individual profiles, take online training and specify their areas of expertise, prior positions and degrees, and other key information to help them get matched to the right Site Visits and Reviews.
All-told, the system serves 750 concurrently active users, with that number expected to grow to around 2,000 in the near-term.
“They came in and quickly delivered solid solutions for our unique business requirements. More importantly they did it in a way that earned them a long term customer,” Hernandez said.
Presence is now working with WSCUC on a new portal for partner institutions, as well as other projects and ongoing maintenance.