Warrior Community Integration Symposium 2015 After-Action Report
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Warrior Community Integration Symposium 2015 After-Action Report

It’s Memorial Day weekend, when we remember those military service members who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of freedom. And, by no coincidence, I just returned from attending most of the 2015 Warrior Community Integration Symposium here in the Augusta area. It was a good two days spent with veterans and veteran service organizations, learning about the challenges they face in their day-to-day operations. Given our VetTracker package, it’s good to touch base with the veteran support community and get an idea of what their needs are so we can keep abreast of where the software should go. Naturally, we talk to our existing customers, but in order to attract new prospects, other venues are very valuable. So here are some of the main pain points I was able to take away from the event:
  • Most of the agencies have difficulty with collaboration between agencies. That includes nonprofits, government agencies, and commercial entities.
  • Most of the agencies have trouble finding out how many veterans need their services, and how to locate or contact them.
  • Some of the agencies have mature data management programs in place. Some, on the other hand, are trying to manage using spreadsheets and manual counting. (Ouch.)
  • During the breakout session on data management on which I was a panelist, “donor management” was a frequently requested feature.
  • Red tape and bureaucracy are a source of frustration for many of the agencies.
  • Measurement and metrics are crucial to agency success – and some agencies have significant difficulties in this area.
So, with all that said, we have some specific improvements planned for VetTracker. Let’s take a quick look.
  • With all the emphasis on collaboration, I have to shake my head a bit. Ironically, one of the original features planned for the version 1.0 release of VetTracker was a module to store, track, and search out community resources. We never implemented it, as it was deemed low priority by the agencies we were working with at the time. Well, it’s back on the list.
  • Another head-shaker is the donor management feature. Another one we dropped for lack of time / funding. It’s back on, too.
  • Further enhancing collaboration, we’re going to beef up the Advocates feature. We’ll tie it to the resources section so you’ll be able to identify what organization or agency each advocate works for (currently, it’s assumed an advocate works for your organization). When that’s done, we’ll add a new data entry flow path that will tie the stated needs of a vet to the organizations that meet those needs, and then to the people who can represent him (or her). The system will take care of the rest.
  • Once you tie the external advocates into your system, you’ll have a direct communication path. The advocate’s contact information will be immediately available to you, and we’re looking seriously at implementing a mapping feature so you can identify agencies or services that are nearby easily.
  • We’re going to make some nice enhancements in the area of metrics. Currently, VetTracker incorporates an internal metrics module that stores a history on dozens of metrics that are used for various reports. You won’t be able to see it in the current release, but we’re going to fix that in the next release. When 3.0 comes out, we’re going to elevate that metrics module and expose it to users so that they can produce a report of any metrics they like, across any date range. Naturally, you’ll still have all the reporting the system has now – including the speciality reports for grant writers such as the Wounded Warrior Project – but this will give you a lot of flexibility.
  • We also have some ideas we’re not committed to yet, but are thinking about. With FileMaker’s web publishing capabilities, it’s possible to push or pull data from VetTracker to web sites, including perhaps your agency’s web site. So we might think about implementing a data bridge by which you can query VetTracker to identify veterans who need services, or services that are available. Just a concept at the moment. Or perhaps we might rethink a previous idea that would allow veterans to self-identify for your agency. We’d previously considered it, but discarded the idea over data integrity concerns. Those concerns still exist, but perhaps we can work around them.
That’s not all we’re going to put into the new release, of course, but those will be the “bigger ticket” items that directly address the issues I heard at the Symposium. By all means, if you have a need in your agency that you think could be served through a better data management system, contact us and we will be happy to take a look. We’d love the chance to make your live and organization work better. In the meantime, here are some photos from the event. Enjoy!