Spark Uses FormAssembly to Administer Impact Evaluation Forms for their Programs
The Form Advocate
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Michael Kolodner, Director of Information Systems at Spark, shared how FormAssembly allows Spark to streamline their data collection processes. The organization collects extensive data vital to their organization and its growth, which is key in ensuring that programs run well and result in desired outcomes. Spark’s collection needs include impact evaluations, mentorship applications, and specialized data entry forms provided to staff members. Due to the extensive relationships and complex nesting between their Salesforce records, the organization benefits from a form solution that can quickly bridge information and update in real-time. “For example, our mentor/student relationship in Salesforce is actually several objects deep. FormAssembly digs through all of those nested records to find the student that the mentor works with,” Kolodner shared.
The Spark Program is a career exploration and discovery program designed for middle school students, with programs that start in the fall of a student’s seventh grade year. Spark offers “real-world experiences, curriculum, workshops, and resources that enable middle school students to explore careers and create space for self-discovery.” Mentors from corporate partners work directly alongside students to provide insight and guidance as students work on projects, explore career fields, and develop dreams for the future.
Active forms in use across the organization
Time reduction for creating Salesforce records (estimated)
Students and mentors involved (estimated)
Complex Data Entry
Prior to using FormAssembly, Spark relied heavily on paper application forms. Whenever possible, they now use FormAssembly to streamline how information about students and mentors is entered into their records. Because the forms know which records to place into Salesforce, staff performing data entry now have only one step instead of several time-consuming steps. Whereas staff previously needed extensive training to become acclimated to the process, their current onboarding time is reduced due to the simplicity of managing a single form.
Making full use of FormAssembly’s Salesforce integration, Spark relies on their family application forms to create the appropriate records for the student and parents or guardians, and to connect those pieces of information to the correct school.
“For a staff member to be doing those steps in Salesforce, they’d be creating multiple contacts and clicking through to create the relationships. Now, the forms take care of all of that,” Kolodner said.
Saved Time with
“[New employees] need to understand the data architecture that undergirds our program, but they don’t need to know it cold. In their first few weeks of work, it’s unrealistic to for them to learn the full data structure and enter records accurately. But they can pull up a web form and type into the fields,” Kolodner said.
Additionally, Spark staff save more time with the help of FormAssembly’s Salesforce integration, which can easily tackle complex nested records and contacts.
When creating new forms, Kolodner relies heavily on the FormAssembly Prefill Connector, which was a huge selling point in considering FormAssembly as the perfect tool. Although Spark’s forms look fairly basic on the surface, they’re more complex on the backend due to the level of detail that is being prefilled automatically.
“The prefill connector – no one out there has anything like it,” Kolodner said.
Spark also implements a variety of hidden fields within their forms. These fields not only help the form connect information to Salesforce without having to show the respondent on the front-end, but they also assist in troubleshooting any issues that may arise. As Spark’s forms are so multi-layered, hidden fields often enable quicker fixes when a form submission throws an error, without the added burden of digging through each form layer.
Getting acclimated to FormAssembly was a fairly quick process for Spark, but Kolodner shared that the Support team has always been available for quick responses and helpful answers. When a certain form field was giving him confusing results, he contacted FormAssembly Support for a solution.
“Support pounded away at it for several days, and we got there. I really appreciate that and was really pleased that I was able to get that level of support,” Kolodner said.
The prefill connector – no one out there has anything like it
Easy-to-use forms help with impact evaluation
Spark distributes evaluation forms to their corporate mentors and partners throughout the duration of the program. These forms request basic check-in information and gauge how the mentor feels about a student’s participation and progress.
Prefilled forms eliminate extra data entry for repeat mentors
FormAssembly also comes into play during the mentor application process. These forms collect information about a future mentor’s skills and interests, so that they can be matched to particular students. Features such as the Prefill Connector help eliminate redundant data collection when a mentor chooses to return for another year or program.
Respondents use one simple form to initiate the program process
Spark uses FormAssembly to collect information directly from middle school teachers at the beginning of each program year. Teachers are asked to submit roughly 15-20 student assessments, which were previously distributed on paper and later entered manually by Spark staff. Kolodner estimated a time savings of roughly 35-40 minutes for their staff, who no longer have to enter data from teachers. FormAssembly provides a means to quickly check off one of the steps in their program process.
Display-only forms serve as an effective outbound communication tool
Kolodner developed a unique use for FormAssembly so that Spark could improve outgoing communication to corporate partners. Each company that they work alongside has an appointed “ambassador,” who often requires information about which employees from their company have applied to be mentors. Instead of asking Spark staff to check on this at every interval, Kolodner developed a two-part form.
The first page requires the ambassador’s email and region. Upon submission, the form looks up the ambassador and finds others in their company that are on the current mentor recruitment campaign in Salesforce. The second page redirects to a prefilled form that uses repeating fields to show who from the company has applied for the mentorship program. With the removal of any ‘Submit’ buttons, the forms serve as an effective outbound communication tool.
The Spark Program hopes to continually expand their reach to more students and mentors. As they scale their programs beyond present numbers, FormAssembly serves as the ideal web form solution to sustain and assist with rapid growth.
“FormAssembly is what allows us to scale from 1,200 to 12,000 mentors per year. Clearly we can’t do all that data entry,” Kolodner said.
Although they currently manage an impressive 50+ forms, Spark staff members can make requests for new form solutions as they work and develop new processes.
“Our forms are covering almost every case where data gets entered in a regular fashion. We’re leveraging [FormAssembly] pretty strongly. If our staff have specific requests, I immediately turn to FormAssembly,” Kolodner said.