Program management

Salesforce CRM: Assisting immigrants through court process

Hola Asistente is a text-based application (SMS messaging and Twilio) that helps immigrants navigate the immigration process. Working closely with Mobile Pathways, we developed a critical part of this program: the system which tracks and updates an individual’s court date.

Immigration court is notorious for changing court dates and times without notification. It is not unheard of for a court date scheduled nine months later to be rescheduled for the following week. If an immigrant misses a court date, even through no fault of their own, their case will be decided by default, and they will be deported from the United States. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that individuals, especially the majority of immigrants who cannot afford an attorney, can keep track of court scheduling. 

While the immigration court does give tools for checking a court date, it provides no automated access. An immigrant must check their court date every day or risk deportation. Hola Asistente bridges this gap, tracking an immigrant’s court case for them and notifying them when it changes.

Hola Asistente helps individuals trying their best to navigate and adhere to a complicated process, typically in a second or third language. These individuals are often in perilous circumstances, and navigating the immigration process can literally be the difference between life and death.

What we built

At the heart of Hola Asistente is Salesforce and data. Immigrant and hearing data is stored in the Salesforce CRM platform. We built processes that access government resources and feed updated hearing data back into Salesforce. Historical data remains, allowing the system to understand what has changed and when the change was made.

Fíonta focused on automatically and flexibly retrieving and organizing the data, allowing Mobile Pathways to concentrate on the rest of Hola Asistente. User intake, outbound communications, status dashboards, and more were built by Mobile Pathways using native Salesforce declarative tools and integrations with other platforms, including Twilio.  

Using Salesforce CRM and Twilio to alert immigrants to changes in their court records - Fionta

It’s all about the data

Fíonta has worked with Mobile Pathways on several similar projects. A key part of our success is isolating front-end features from back-end processes. These components are ignorant of each other; they are connected not by code but by data.

Each system can operate and evolve independently by using data as the connection point. For example, new messaging platforms can be integrated without altering any back-end process. In an extreme example, the entire back-end processing could shift out of Salesforce CRM and into Salesforce’s Heroku platform to achieve greater scale.

Data-based coupling can be challenging to design but offers maximum flexibility. It allows Mobile Pathways to focus on user engagement and completely outsource the data management.

How we built it

While most Salesforce partners are happy to shoehorn anything into Salesforce, Fíonta believes in using the right tool for the right job. The Salesforce CRM platform has restrictions to prevent organizations from monopolizing server resources. Extracting data from external resources is the kind of action that will run you into those limits.

For this reason, many Mobile Pathways apps run on Heroku rather than Salesforce CRM. Heroku can be optimized to easily manage scaling, whereas Salesforce scaling options can be limiting. However, in this technology project, the balance laid in favor of Salesforce CRM. We were confident the design could avoid Salesforce restrictions, not just today but for years. Salesforce CRM allowed for a more straightforward design with a smaller technology footprint.

Salesforce CRM is a powerful platform, but no one tool can fit every technical requirement. Make sure your partner can work beyond Salesforce CRM and knows when it’s practical to make that decision. An ill-fitting solution is fragile and inevitably more expensive than one built with expertise.

A crucial part of application design is client empowerment. Fundamental values are configurable, allowing Mobile Pathways to tune the application without code changes or radically reprioritizing case updates.

System health and execution data are continuously recorded, allowing Mobile Pathways to identify issues and understand system status. Day-to-day operations, and even significant adjustments, can all be managed by Mobile Pathways staff. When changes or feature adjustments arise, Fíonta will always ask, “how can we give you control over this?”

Learn more about the work Mobile Pathways and Fíonta have done together and how you can support Hola Asistente and the important work Mobile Pathways is doing.