NASA’s digital strategy serves as an example of how agencies can keep the mission engaging and relevant.
Automated workflow rules bring information into a single view, connect programs, & fuel data-driven decisions.
NASA, ever the trailblazer, turns systematic legacy IT challenges into a call-to-action.
The Federal IT budget landscape
Introducing the STEM Gateway, an intake and case management system in one.
The team launched the STEM Gateway on the FedRAMP-authorized Salesforce Customer 360 for Public Sector, an internship management platform that brings NASA’s multifaceted internship landscape together into one, online community portal. It includes several modules and apps that NASA uses to automate and streamline the way it reaches, resonates, and recruits the next generation of STEM leadership.
Here’s how it works:
Prospective interns enter the Gateway through the portal’s Experience Cloud interface, register a profile, browse information about STEM programs and opportunities, and submit an application, marking which roles or areas are of interest. Once an application has been submitted, candidates can log back in to check the status and take action on any next steps (such as submitting employment eligibility records or signing up for onboarding activities).
The self-service nature mitigates data entry errors as the candidate is guided through the required fields and checkboxes. The consolidated design means one application, one experience, and one source of truth for any number of internship opportunities.
- Application processing:
NASA employees leverage the same consolidated design principles in their work on the backend. When an application is received, it is treated as a case and assigned to an internship coordinator via Service Cloud. Here, the internship coordinator can review the application, take notes, tag subject matter experts from any program on key questions, and make offer recommendations. PII is captured once and stored in a central place, (with an additional layer of security from Shield), as are details about which candidates were hired for which program, survey results at the end of the post, and more.
- Additional opportunities for engagement:
Internships is just one of over thirty NASA STEM engagements hosted by the STEM Gateway system. Creating a universal application and registration system for these engagements provides a better user experience for both NASA employees and the public as it allows information to be collected once and reused across multiple interactions. Additionally, it is allowing NASA an automated and reliable view into how individuals are participating in multiple opportunities offered by the agency to build and strengthen their STEM knowledge. Over the next year, NASA is moving towards migrating approximately seventy additional engagements into this system and retiring their associated legacy systems and manual processes. Here are just two examples of other engagements utilizing NASA STEM Gateway today:
NASA CONNECTS is an online community of practice (CoP) that launched as a part of the Gateway; it is a module built in Experience Cloud where educator members can interact with NASA personnel, curriculum, and each other. Here, educators collaborate and discuss best practices, share training resources, and follow relevant educator groups or other educators.
NASA's STEM’s In-flight Education Downlink application receives online request forms from educators and administrators who want to schedule a time slot for astronauts aboard the International Space Station to speak at school events via live video stream. NASA staff can review the request and schedule a downlink right in the Gateway
Integrated reports and dashboards built using Tableau and CRM Analytics give the team a set of business analytics tools to roll up results, spot trends, and pinpoint catalysts driving the internship program and other NASA STEM engagements. The team uses this to better understand what demographics are missing from the talent pool, trace those gaps back to barriers in the application process (such as if more time needs to be spent with institutions dedicated to minority groups), and report on how many students are preparing to enter STEM careers — with NASA, the Federal government, or industry as a part of the Administration’s commitment to contributing to Federal STEM goals.
The team also uses this to down-select candidates. In fiscal year 2022, the internship program filled roughly 2,200 internship openings per year across the agency, and the number of applications for a single opening can vary widely. The team has seen as many as 300 applications for a single internship opportunity. So, they built a dashboard on CRM Analytics that pulls up an open role, and filters applicants by GPA, academic level, major, school or academic institution, region, skillset, and more. The team can then remove those attributes before sending a candidate along to a hiring manager to both streamline the review process and reduce the impact of implicit bias.
STEM Gateway inspires other apps that together create an enterprise-wide platform strategy.
NASA launched several other apps using many of the same design principles as the STEM Gateway, digitizing and automating one program after the next and connecting them on the same platform.
The Guest Ops app is a scheduling and CRM app that NASA uses to manage the process of inviting key influencers to NASA events. Automated workflow rules streamline to-do items like issuing invites, triggering parking passes, and so on. RSVP and attendance data are again added to a personalized profile record in Sales Cloud, which the team uses to nurture relationships with those individuals who have an interest in NASA’s mission. Here, the team can review past engagements, takes notes on common interests, and call the right influencer to participate in future events that help keep NASA top of mind.
The Subject Matter Expert Speaker Database on Experience Cloud and Salesforce Platform has a similar intake function to the STEM Gateway, collecting digital request forms for NASA speakers to participate in various community and academic events. Staff can review the request form, match the most qualified person to speak on behalf of the agency, and report on the number and type of events with NASA representation using again a similar set of Tableau-based reports and dashboards. NASA employees can also authenticate in, review training materials, sign up for courses, and become a more prepared and more effective NASA speaker.
NASA had a manual request process for adding projects to its Mission Cloud Platform (MCP) — a platform on AWS that has seen more and more demand as interest in Cloud Computing services are on the rise, making it more and more difficult for the team of just 15 people to manage this process using offline spreadsheets, emails, as well as tracking demand for its platform with its ever growing customer base. So, NASA built the Mission Cloud Platform Dashboard app on Service Cloud and Public Sector Solutions - Employee Experience automating the CRM analytics, funding and customer tracking. On the verge going live, the team has scaled from managing 20 projects to 145 projects without adding any additional headcount and this will alleviate workload by automating routine customer interactions as well as new customer onboarding. Some of NASA’s most mission-critical programs are now on AWS because of the MCP, including instruments on the International Space Station for infrastructure and payload management, programs support collision avoidance for low earth orbit, and projects supporting Artemis – NASA’s return to the moon.