Skip to main content

The Mentor Network (Part 2)

Charting a path forward by talking to users

The Challenge

The Mentor Network is a health and human services provider, offering quality services and support for thousands of individuals across the country. Providing high-quality care is, and will always be, The Mentor Network’s top priority — and to do that effectively and successfully, those responsible for providing care must be able to track, record, and analyze key data points.

This case study represents the second major phase of work we completed for The Mentor Network. The first phase was an intensive discovery phase that included a facilitated day-long workshop that allowed us to understand The Mentor Network’s Salesforce implementation from a wide-range of staff perspectives that represent each of their business lines. Check out our workshop case study here.

The workshop also reinforced the need to dedicate a significant amount of time for observing and interviewing real users in their normal work settings so we could get a sense of how they interact with Salesforce in conjunction with providing face-to-face support to the individuals they serve. The stakeholder team at The Mentor Network completely agreed — so we dove enthusiastically into planning trips around the country to do just that.

Field research
Maryland, Iowa, Florida, Massachusetts, and Illinois 

An outlined illustration of the states involved in the field research portion of the project: Maryland, Iowa, Florida, Massachusetts, and Illinois

The Solution

With the help of headquarters staff, we crafted a research schedule that took us to Maryland, Iowa, Florida, Massachusetts, and Illinois, allowing us to talk to multiple user types from two service locations for each business line. Scheduling dedicated time with each group was critical to gaining a holistic view of the implementation, both to understand how each business line leverages the power of the platform and where users were struggling most with its features and functionality.

In tandem with setting the research schedule, we prepared the interview questions, planned the travel and recording logistics, and further familiarized ourselves with the platform via sandbox logins.

Since The Mentor Network has so many different types of users and the exact specifics of each user’s responsibilities was not abundantly clear, it was important to keep the interview questions general. Here’s a high-level version of the questions that guided us through the interviews:

  1. Go through a couple of the tasks you complete in Salesforce
    • Why do you do this task?
    • How difficult is it to complete?
  2. Does Salesforce help you do your job?
  3. What’s the most confusing part of the platform for you?
  4. How often do you login to Salesforce and do you ever have problems logging in?
  5. Did you receive training; what was it like?

Prior to each research trip, we connected with The Mentor Network headquarters staff that was most familiar with the particular business line, the location we were visiting, and the employees we’d be interviewing. Since each business line supports individuals with different needs, the physical locations and roles of employees were dramatically different, the coordination with HQ staff was critical to planning out our research schedules and approaching conversations appropriately.

Additionally, we planned ahead to have a member of the Mentor Network headquarter staff with us at each location to provide more background on user tasks and evolution of the Salesforce platform - which was very helpful to ensure we extracted the most valid and valuable information from our time on the road

All said and done, we spent over 170 hours talking to and observing The Mentor Network’s users across the country and had over 100 conversations with employees, collecting both qualitative and quantitative data.

A photograph of two LookThink team members organizing learned data, written on sticky notes, into various categories on a whiteboard.

The Result

Once research was complete, we set off to do the most challenging part of the effort - analysis of our findings from those 100+ conversations. Once compiled, we reviewed all notes taken to identify:

  • Common pain points
  • Key usability themes
  • Functional areas requested for improvement from headquarters staff
  • Common vs unique asks (many users had a lot of ideas on how to make the platform work better for them)

A photo of colorful sticky notes on a whiteboard organized into various columns and sections, circled in yellow, blue, orange, and green circles.

With the help of sticky notes and a wall-sized whiteboard, we were able to effectively analyze, organize, and prioritize those pain points and ideas for improvement against the goals identified during the workshop. In the above photo, the sticky notes were grouped into various priorities:

  • Yellow indicated the lowest priority functionality that already existed in the system
  • Orange indicated medium priority functionality that needed to be improved
  • Green indicated the highest priority level of functionality that needed to be improved
  • Blue indicated aspirational functionality for the system that currently lived on paper, the Microsoft software suite, or a spreadsheet

From there, we were able to narrow in on a list of recommendations that would have the biggest impact on the business and user satisfaction — the critical combo that would drive value for everyone connected to the platform.

Next, we headed to Boston to present our findings and recommendations to The Mentor Network stakeholders (largely the same group who participated in the original workshop). Our presentation allowed stakeholders to gain an authentic understanding for how their employees interact with Salesforce everyday, which helped align everyone on the most critical issues (and what to tackle in what order).

Since that trip to Boston, the LookThink design team has been busy prototyping new user experiences for key areas of the platform and testing the new experiences with real users. As new experiences are validated and finalized, we are handing them off to the development team to implement in the platform. We intend for this cycle of prototyping, iteration, and development to continue as we tackle and improve all of the outcomes of our research. Stay tuned for a third case study once the first major feature area (Attendance) is deployed in the fall of 2018.

Additional Case Studies