Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’re joined by Matt Vickery, Salesforce Administrator at the Washington State Housing and Finance Commission. We’ll hear how he’s using Salesforce to help get people into homes.
Join us as we talk about how Matt got into Salesforce, and how it’s simplified and streamlined processes for his team.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Matt Vickery.
From philosophy professor to public servant.
Matt originally went to school for degrees in philosophy and history. He was aiming to become a philosophy professor, getting his masters and working towards his PhD, “but a couple years in I realized that was not for me,” Matt says. He ended up in Seattle with a job in mortgage lending and that got him connected (and eventually working for) the Washington State Housing and Finance Commission.
The commission was overhauling their databases to find a solution that was more modern and de-siloed, “and since I was the techiest person in my division, I was put on that committee,” Matt says. Spoiler alert, they went with Salesforce. “In that process, I learned that I really really liked databases and what they could do, and how fun they could be to work on.” When they realized they’d need a full-time administrator Matt threw his hat in the ring. He had some low-level admin experience managing their loan reservation system in SQL, and the rest is history.
Matt’s learning journey.
Going from maintaining a small SQL database to being a full-time Salesforce admin wasn’t necessarily an easy path. “Our company’s very people-focused, so we made sure that worked with a company that could have people on site throughout the whole implementation,” Matt says, “so I got to work with them a lot and they did a great job of helping me understand how databases and Salesforce works.” After absorbing that for a couple of months he took the admin class in San Francisco, “and now it’s just going into my sandboxes and tooling around and seeing what I can do,” Matt says.
Working with overlapping needs from different departments.
“Our main mission is to create, support, sustain, and maintain affordable housing the state of Washington,” Matt says. They run a tax credit program focused on building housing for low-income families, elderly, farm workers, and other targeted populations. There’s also a separate program to help first-time home buyers with down payment assistance and first mortgage programs that offer more favorable lending terms to help families get into their first home.
There are several divisions within the commission in addition to the Home Ownership Division, including Asset Management and Compliance, and (of course) Finance. All of these different groups overlap in some ways and not other, “so when we were looking at databases we needed something that allowed us to silo something off, as well as have some integrations and overlap between the two,” Matt says. “Since we’re a state agency we need to keep records and good data,” he says, so that they can see how their work is having an impact. Salesforce was the obvious answer, but they needed to needed to build the processes to create the flexibility they required.
How Matt simplified data for his team.
When it came to actually breaking down processes in their Salesforce org, they identified some redundant work that was happening between divisions. They sat down and charted out who needed what information and, most importantly, when they needed it. The history of the data is really important to how the Housing and Finance Commission works, so it’s not just the changes but how that data came in, originally. Then they used process building to implement those data transfers.
“We started to identify other places in our system where we were actually entering the same bit of data over and over again,” Matt says. A bond, for example, has an official closing date and, tied to that, a maturity date. “There were a number of places where we needed to have that visible,” he says, but you had to continually put that info in when you were making reports. “We didn’t need seven people entering the same data into seven different objects,” he said, “so we found the base record and built processes and flows so when it gets edited there, it will populate everywhere else it needs to be.”
All of these changes have been great for Matt’s team because they know where to go to get reliable data and don’t have to worry about duplicates and mixups. “It’s made a lot of people’s jobs easier,” he says, “so they can start to focus on the more important stuff rather than the record creation and making sure the data gets transferred to the proper places.”
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