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Salesforce.Field-Service-Lightning-Consultant answers - Field Service Lightning Consultant Updated: 2023

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Exam Code: Salesforce.Field-Service-Lightning-Consultant Field Service Lightning Consultant answers November 2023 by team

Salesforce.Field-Service-Lightning-Consultant Field Service Lightning Consultant

Test Detail:
The Salesforce Field Service Lightning Consultant certification is designed for professionals who specialize in implementing and configuring Salesforce's Field Service Lightning solution. This certification validates the knowledge and skills required to design and optimize field service processes, manage work orders, and leverage Salesforce features to deliver exceptional field service experiences. The following description provides an overview of the certification exam.

Number of Questions and Time:
The number of questions and time allocation for the Salesforce Field Service Lightning Consultant certification exam may vary. Typically, the exam consists of multiple-choice questions, and the time given for the exam ranges from 90 to 120 minutes. The number of questions can range from 60 to 80, depending on the exam version.

Course Outline:
The Salesforce Field Service Lightning Consultant certification exam covers various subjects related to field service management and the implementation of the Field Service Lightning solution. The course outline typically includes the following subject areas:

1. Field Service Processes:
- Understanding field service management concepts and best practices
- Defining service territories and assigning resources
- Managing work orders, scheduling, and dispatching field technicians
- Handling service agreements, entitlements, and contracts
- Configuring service level agreements and response times

2. Field Service Lightning Implementation:
- Configuring and customizing Field Service Lightning in Salesforce
- Integrating with other Salesforce clouds and external systems
- Designing field service mobile solutions and optimizing user experience
- Configuring field service automation and business rules
- Implementing asset and inventory management features

3. Optimization and Analytics:
- Monitoring and analyzing field service performance and KPIs
- Utilizing reports and dashboards to gain insights into field operations
- Applying best practices for optimizing field service processes
- Configuring field service analytics and forecasting capabilities
- Leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning features

Exam Objectives:
The objectives of the Salesforce Field Service Lightning Consultant certification exam are to assess the candidate's knowledge and skills in implementing and configuring the Field Service Lightning solution. The exam aims to evaluate the following:

1. Proficiency in designing field service processes and workflows to meet business requirements.
2. Competence in configuring and customizing Field Service Lightning features and functionalities.
3. Understanding of integration capabilities and best practices for integrating Field Service Lightning with other systems.
4. Ability to analyze field service data and utilize reporting and analytics tools for decision-making.
5. Knowledge of optimization techniques and best practices for improving field service operations.

Exam Syllabus:
The Salesforce Field Service Lightning Consultant certification exam syllabus outlines the specific subjects and competencies covered in the exam. The syllabus typically includes the following areas:

- Field Service Processes and Best Practices
- Field Service Lightning Configuration and Customization
- Integration and Data Management
- Field Service Mobile Solutions
- Asset and Inventory Management
- Field Service Analytics and Reporting
Field Service Lightning Consultant
SalesForce Consultant answers

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Salesforce Certified Field Service Lightning Consultant
Question: 69
Universal Containers performs service which may require more than one task on a Work Order. A Consultant has
recommended Work Order Line Items to manage the task(s) .
What should be considered as part of this solution to ensure tasks are dispatched?
A. Work Order Line Items require a Case for the field technician to perform the work.
B. All Work Order Line items inherit the required Skills for the associated Asset.
C. Work Order Line Items require a Service Appointment for a field technician to perform the work.
D. Scheduled Work Order Line Items have to be completed on a daily basis or rescheduled the end of day.
Answer: C
Question: 70
optimization for the Midwest is set to automatically run each night for the next three days. The dispatcher has noticed
that the optimizer is leaving many service appointments unscheduled and has asked the consultant to troubleshoot the
The consultant noticed that the optimization service run time per service appointment is set to low in field service
Which two conditions should make the consultant consider setting the optimizer too high? Choose 2 answers
A. The scheduling policy used field is blank
B. The scheduling policy is producing too many candidates that qualify for each service appointment
C. Most service appointment have the same priority
D. The calculate travel and breaks field service setting is disabled for the service resource availability work rule.
Answer: B,C
Question: 71
Universal Containers wants to have more control over the geography in which their Technicians are performing work .
What capability should a Consultant enable?
A. Service Territories
B. Geotracking
C. Territory Management
D. Location Management
Answer: A
Question: 72
A Field Service Technician wants to view a list of parts consumed during a given time period. The Technician will
then use the data to replenish inventory on the truck .
Which three steps should a Consultant recommend to track the number of parts consumed? Choose 3 answers.
A. Build a report to view Products Consumed on Work Order Line Items.
B. Build a report using the Service Appointment Inventory module.
C. Build a report to view Products Consumed on Work Orders.
D. Build a report using the Work Order inventory module.
E. Build a report to view Inventory Transactions.
Answer: A,C,E
Question: 73
To ensure that preventative maintenance work can be completed on time. Universal Containers wants to automatically
generate Work Orders 14 days before the next suggested maintenance date.
How should the Consultant meet this requirement?
A. Define a generation horizon of 14 days.
B. Define a generation timeframe of 14 days.
C. Configure Auto-generate Work Orders to True.
D. Define a generation horizon of 20,160 minutes.
Answer: A
Question: 74
Universal containers (UC) wants to schedule work orders only if technicians have the necessary qualifications to
complete the designated work
In which two ways can UC achieve this Choose 2 answers
A. Leverage the match skills work rule when scheduling appointments
B. Create skills that relate to qualifications from setup and assign them to a service resource
C. Leverage the match skills scheduling policy when scheduling appointments
D. Create skills that relate to qualifications from the skills tab end assign them to a service resource
Answer: A,B
Question: 75
What set of configurations make up Scheduling Policies and let companies adhere to their business constraints and
A. Service Objectives and Work Types
B. Service Objectives and Work Rules
C. Service Levels and Work Rules
D. Service Contracts and Service Levels.
Answer: B
Question: 76
Universal Containers has a Partner Community. Work Orders are assigned to these partners. Partners are not
interacting with Service Appointments or Service Resources .
How would a Partner user update the Work Order record from a mobile device?
A. Field service mobile app
B. Salesforce mobile app
C. Work Order records cannot be updated on a mobile device
D. Salesforce Touch
Answer: B
Question: 77
Universal Containers wants to provide a pro-formal invoice to their customer at the completion of a Work Order .
Which three should a Consultant set up in order to achieve this requirement?
A. Create Account-wide Discounts.
B. Apply Promotion to the Work Order.
C. Apply Price Book to the Work Order.
D. AppCreate Products and Price Book Entries.
E. Create Work Order Line Items with Products.
Answer: C,D,E
Question: 78
Universal Containers is evaluating a strategy for reducing the cost of service using automated scheduling .
Which two approaches will contribute to this goal? Choose 2 answers
A. Reduced Work Orders per Shift.
B. Reduced Overtime per Work Order.
C. Reduced Travel Time per Work Order.
D. Reduced Absences per Employee.
Answer: B,C
Question: 79
Universal Containers wants to monitor Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) after a Work Order is complete .
How can CSAT information be collected?
A. Add the CSAT Visualforce page to the Work Order.
B. Install the Survey Snap-in for CSAT capture.
C. Install an AppExchange Package.
D. Enable the CSAT Quick Action for Work Orders.
Answer: C
Question: 80
Which fields on service appointments help ensure that they are completed within the agreed upon service level
agreement (SLA) with universal containers customers?
A. Scheduled start, scheduled end
B. real start, real end
C. Earliest start permitted, due date
D. Arrival window start, arrival window end
Answer: C
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Top 10 Salesforce Consulting Companies In India 2023 No result found, try new keyword!As India is becoming a homeground of various Salesforce consulting companies, finding the ideal partner will never be as simple as having a cup of tea. Before finalizing the most suitable ... Wed, 05 Oct 2022 23:49:00 -0500 en-US text/html Corporate, global leaders peer into a future expected to be reshaped by AI, for better or worse No result found, try new keyword!President Joe Biden and other global leaders have spent the past few days melding minds with Silicon Valley titans in San Francisco, their discussions frequently focusing on artificial intelligence, a ... Thu, 16 Nov 2023 15:56:00 -0600 en-us text/html Salesforce announces strong AI integration across its applications at DreamForce

At the recently concluded DreamForce Annual conference, Salesforce announces several mega AI initiatives that integrate across its entire spectrum of applications and beyond

The recently concluded DreamForce conference by Salesforce is being touted as the largest AI event of the year, with 100+ AI experts and visionary speakers across 1,500 sessions and attended in-person by over 40,000 attendees. It was also the Most Sustainable DreamForce ever, with 74% of the structures being re-cycled or re-used, 5500 bio-degradable signages, 10M gallons of water conserved, and 100% compostable meal packaging. All sessions were also net zero. 

AI was the main theme this time and while the software giant focused on how Salesforce has integrated AI into all of its services, the company’s founder and CEO, Marc Benioff called it responsible innovation paired by ethical use. “It’s all about using Data + AI and adding a layer of Trust on top of it”, he said.

Helping the Society 

Before delving into what’s new at Salesforce, Marc also stressed on the importance of helping the society beyond doing business, for which Salesforce has put 1% of its equity, profits, and people’s time into charity. This equates to about 700 million USD in donations, 8.3 million hours of volunteer time, and 54,000 nonprofits running on Salesforce platform. The company is also helping San Francisco’s public schools and hospitals and has raised over 100M USD for them.

Salesforce Becomes Third Largest Software Company in the World

Marc started by announcing that Salesforce has become the THIRD LARGEST software company in the world at USD 34.8 Billion in FY24 and SECOND LARGEST in Japan, where they have surpassed Oracle. 

Most Corporates Looking to Deploy AI, but Trust is the Biggest Concern

While Salesforce’s focus on AI is over a decade old with its Einstein AI platform, Marc divided the AI evolution into four waves. The first was predictive AI, which we’ve already been through. Second is GenAI, which we’ve been into for around 9 months. This would be followed by Autonomous and Agents based AI, and eventually we’ll get to General Intelligence AI. When we think of the last AI wave, scenes from movies like Terminator and Minority Reports run wild in the mind. “While there are both good and bad parts in those movies about AI, it will be our values that will guide us in the right direction right”, said Marc. Those values will help us achieve higher levels of customer success, productivity, and growth. However, like many new technologies, there’s a trust gap in AI while working with so many LLMs. They’re always hungry for data and keep getting smarter with it using advanced algorithms. “Unfortunately, most of this data is stolen and moving ahead, these LLM companies would like to have the corporate customer’s data, which is not something most corporates would agree to”, said Marc. Second, though these LLMs are smart, they may give convincing answers that aren’t exactly true and could even turn toxic very quickly. “What’s needed is to build trust into the applications that are built based on these LLMs as trust is a priority for every business”, he added. 

Announcing Einstein 1 Platform

Speaking of trust, Marc announced the Einstein 1 AI platform, a trusted AI platform that’s deeply integrated into all Salesforce applications (Sales, Marketing, Service, and Commerce). It’s not running on a separate data cloud or server so there’s no need for separate teams to operate it. Einstein is currently Generative but will soon be autonomous and eventually become General AI based. Besides integrating with the core applications, Salesforce has also connected it to Slack, Tableau, and even external applications from Google, Microsoft, etc.

All meta data on the Einstein 1 platform is integrated and shared across all SF applications. This covers the data model, sharing model, validation rules, record types, page layouts, sharing rules, permissions and profiles, code, and flows to name a few. This makes it fast and easy for customers to build their own applications once and write anywhere. All upgrades to the software are also automatic and seamless. 

This integration is part of a mission at Salesforce called More Core where the idea is to move more apps into the core. It will enable Salesforce’s Trailblazers (a community that uses Salesforce to build careers, companies, and communities on Salesforce platform) to do much more on the platform, automate a lot of tasks, etc. Moreover, it’s open so all Salesforce partners can benefit from it. Plus, it’s all low code/no code, enabling the trailblazers to do all automation non-programmatically. 

Speaking of trailblazers, between 2022 to 2028, Salesforce is expected to have 20 million trailblazers globally, over 2000 community groups, 11.6 million new salesforce ecosystem jobs by 2028, and $2 Tn+ net gain in business revenue globally. 

$500M Venture Fund Announced for Einstein Applications

Another major announcement at DreamForce was the $500 million venture fund, which is a part of Salesforce ventures. SF Ventures has deployed $5B with 28% IRR, making it one of the most successful VCs in Silicon Valley. Salesforce uses the venture capital to fund entrepreneurs and innovators. 

The new $500M fund is targeted toward Einstein applications so that more trailblazers can start their own companies, build on the platform and sell to customers. 

In AI We Trust! 

Parkar Harris
Parkar Harris

“GenAI applications like ChatGPT take you directly to the LLM to enter data. Salesforce assures privacy of customer data with the Einstein Trust Layer,” – Parker Harris, CTO, Salesforce

The entire AI revolution will be built on trust, for which Salesforce feels it’s important to have new standards for ethical and humane use of AI. For this, several years ago, Salesforce created a Chief Trust Officer in the company well before anyone else. The company firmly believes that customer data is not their product, unless many companies especially on the consumer side who use customer data to make money. Salesforce strongly believes in promoting responsible AI globally, due to which they allow customers to have control over their data. This sort of transparency helps builds trust. 

On this, Parker Harris, Co-founder and CTO of Salesforce also stressed on the need to build trust in AI and how Salesforce is doing it. He referred to something that they’ve built called the Einstein Trust Layer. GenAI applications like ChatGPT take you directly to the LLM to enter data. Salesforce assures privacy of customer data with the Einstein Trust Layer. The company will do secure data retrieval and dynamic grounding so that the response is relevant. They don’t send PII (Personally Identifiable Information), Credit Card info, etc. to the LLM. All of it is masked when sent to the Secure LLM Gateway and unmasked when it returns back to the customer. The company has built over 10 such LLMs, which don’t keep customer information. Moreover, when the data comes back, the Einstein platform first checks it for toxity, ethical issues, etc., keeps an audit trail of all the ways that AI was used for customer’s reference to ensure they can track the value they’re getting from it. 

How Einstein Trust Layer Works
Einstein Trust Layer ensures privacy of customer data. It masks Personally Identifiable Information before sending to the LLM Gateway and unmasks it when it returns back to the customer

Enabling Enterprises to Leverage their Data Assets

Every enterprise has vast amounts of data that they’d like to be able to use, but they find it challenging to do so because it’s located across several islands of disconnected data (e.g., mainframes, multiple cloud providers, etc.). In fact, according to Salesforce, 71% of company applications are disconnected, and would like to bring them together in order to apply AI on it. This is where Einstein Data cloud can help by connecting all data and integrating it into all the SF apps. As it’s not a separate platform, customers can create their own flow, dashboards, etc. 

The company is already processing 2 Trillion+ records per month on this platform with data coming not only from the CRM, but other apps and platforms as well like AWS, Data Bricks, Google, etc. Salesforce has partnered with them and integrated their data lakes into the Einstein Data Cloud. This enables customers to get a single, holistic view of their customers. 

Sanjana Parulekar, VP Product Marketing at Salesforce demonstrated how easy it is for customers to connect their wealth of data from different systems with their critical business apps. As the platform works on the principle of low code/no code, customers can connect to any data in their organization, including external data using connectors. Once they connect with the data, they can harmonize it into one data model and easily create powerful workflows. Using Data Cloud and Tableau for instance, you can provide access to all the required data to your business users in real-time. With fully integrated data, customer interactions become richer. Moreover, Data Cloud & Tableau is free to get started as the company gives you 10K profiles to get started. 

Einstein Co-Pilots

Commenting on this, David Schmaier, the President and Chief Product Officer at Salesforce said that the AI revolution is a customer revolution, allowing you to use Einstein to connect with your customers in entirely new ways. Taking this one more level above, he announced another Salesforce Innovation—Einstein 1 Co-Pilot conversational AI based assistants for every Salesforce application. Schmaier said that these are “One of the greatest innovations in the history of the company”. It allows everyone to become an Einstein and get more productive with every single app.

Built on the meta data framework, the Einstein 1 Co-Pilots are also there for every cloud, be it sales, marketing, service, e-commerce, or other apps like Tableau, Canvas, MuleSoft, etc. 

“Data powers AI and AI will power your customer experience” he added.

Einstein 1 Co-pilot for Sales allows you to look at all your leads, automatically fix your meetings, automatically transcribe meetings, and even send you action items. It can generate quotes, proposals, and the contract language for your sales team. Similarly, Einstein 1 Co-Pilot for Service andautomatically give responses and answers to your questions. Your Customer Service Reps will automatically be up to date about your products and customers. They can generate answers on the channel of your choice—SMS, email, WhatsApp, and other channels that your customers are concerned about. Similarly, the Einstein 1 Co-Pilot for Marketing provides features like segment intelligence, which allows you to take customer journeys, segments, and marketing campaigns and make them more tailored. “It’s mass personalization at scale for your mktg department”, said Shmaier.

Similarly, the Einstein 1 Co-Pilot for Commerce can put up and generate your commerce site automatically, designed for the highest conversion rate possible. It will automatically create all product descriptions, landing pages and even the literature for your products. Similarly, there are co-pilots for Tableau, Canvas, MuleSoft, and even industry specific co-pilots. For instance, Tableau Co-pilot allows you to quickly go from raw data to actionable insights from a conversational interface. 

Lastly, he announced the Einstein Co-Pilot Studio for companies that want to customize Einstein Copilot to build and tailor AI assistants with relevant prompts, skills, and AI models to accomplish specific sales, service, marketing, commerce, and IT tasks. 

The article has been written by Anil Chopra, VP-Research and Consulting, CyberMedia Research. The author was hosted by Salesforce in San Francisco

Tue, 31 Oct 2023 21:02:00 -0500 en-US text/html
From Self-Doubt to Entrepreneur: How Salesforce’s Technology Evangelist Found Success in Entrepreneurship After Experiencing Uncertainty

November 14, 2023

For a recent episode of “Tuesdays With Morrisey,” host Adam Morrisey examined the world of entrepreneurship, particularly highlighting some of the internal struggles that can often accompany this journey. In a candid discussion with Scott Britton, entrepreneur and Senior Technology Evangelist at Salesforce, the two discussed Britton’s perspective on his own journey and the factors that played a role in shaping it.

Entrepreneurship is a very multifaceted journey.  Britton, who recently witnessed his startup Troops being acquired by Salesforce, shared his insights on the motivations behind becoming an entrepreneur, the challenges of the startup venture, and the evolving definition of success. Their discussion also touched consciousness and business, the role of intuition in decision-making, and how perceptions of worth and success can take center stage. Britton’s journey from a sales leader frustrated with CRM systems, battling self-doubt issues, to a successful entrepreneur, and now a reflective thinker, offers valuable lessons for anyone navigating the path of entrepreneurship.

Written by Alexandra Simon.

Tue, 14 Nov 2023 11:49:00 -0600 en-US text/html
Transforming Customer Service: How Generative AI Is Changing the Game

Whether placing an order, requesting a product exchange or asking about a billing concern, today’s customer demands an exceptional experience that includes quick, thorough answers to their inquiries. They also expect service to be delivered 24/7 across multiple channels.

While traditional AI approaches provide customers with quick service, they have their limitations. Currently chat bots are relying on rule-based systems or traditional machine learning algorithms (or models) to automate tasks and provide predefined responses to customer inquiries.

Generative AI has the potential to significantly disrupt customer service, leveraging large language models (LLMs) and deep learning techniques designed to understand complex inquiries and offer to generate more natural conversational responses. Enterprise organizations (many of whom have already embarked on their AI journeys) are eager to harness the power of generative AI for customer service. Generative AI models can handle complex customer queries, including nuanced intent, sentiment, and context, and deliver relevant responses. Generative AI can also leverage customer data to provide personalized answers and recommendations and offer tailored suggestions and solutions to enhance the customer experience.

How Generative AI Can Disrupt Customer Service

Generative AI represents a powerful opportunity for businesses to increase productivity, Strengthen personalized support and encourage growth. Here are five top use cases where generative AI can change the game in customer service:

  • Conversational search: Customers can find the answers they’re looking for quickly, with natural responses that are generated from finely tuned language models based on company knowledge bases. What’s different is that generative AI can provide relevant information for the search query in the users’ language of choice, minimizing effort for translation services.
  • Agent assistance – search and summarization: Customer support agents can use generative AI to help Strengthen productivity, empowering them to answer customer questions with automatically generated responses in the users’ channel of choice based on the conversation. Generative AI auto-summarization creates summaries that employees can easily refer to and use in their conversations to provide product, service or recommendations (and it can also categorize and track trends).
  • Build assistance: Employees who create chatbots and other customer service tools can use generative AI for content creation and build assistance to support service requests, getting generated responses and suggestions based on existing company and customer data.
  • Contact center operations: Generative AI can perform the repetitive tasks needed to gather the information needed to enhance the feedback loop within a call center. It can summarize and analyze complaints, customer journeys and more, allowing agents to dedicate more time to customers. The insights produced make evaluating performance improvements for enhanced services much easier, so call centers can contribute to revenue generation.
  • Personalized recommendations: Generative AI considers the history of a customer’s interaction with the brand across platforms and support services to provide them with information that is specific to them (and delivered in their preferred tone and format).

To deliver generative AI solutions tailored for each enterprise, IBM Consulting works closely with ecosystem partners including Salesforce, Amazon, Genesys, Five9 and NICE to help clients benefit from open source and other technologies.

Generative AI for Customer Service in Action

As part of a multi-phase engagement, Bouygues Telecom has been working with IBM Consulting to transform its contact center operations with enterprise-ready generative AI capabilities.

Despite having 8 million customer-agent conversations full of insights, the telco’s agents could only capture part of the information in customer relationship management (CRM) systems. What’s more, they did not have time to fully read automatic transcriptions from previous calls. IBM Consulting used foundation models to accomplish automatic call summarization and subject extraction and update the CRM with actionable insights quickly. This innovation has resulted in a 30% reduction in pre- and post-call operations and is projected to save over $5 million in yearly operational improvements.

Navigating the Challenges of Generative AI

In a 2023 study conducted by the IBM Institute of Business Value, 75% of CEOs surveyed believe the organization with the most advanced generative AI will have a competitive advantage. However, these executives are also concerned about navigating risks such as bias, ethics and security.¹

To help clients succeed with their generative AI implementation, IBM Consulting recently launched its Center of Excellence (CoE) for generative AI. It stands alongside IBM Consulting’s existing global AI and automation practice, which includes 21,000 skilled data and AI consultants who have completed over 40,000 enterprise engagements and specialize in helping organizations across every industry adopt and scale AI to detect and mitigate risks, and provide education and guidance.

No matter where you are in your journey of customer service transformation, IBM Consulting is uniquely positioned to help you harness generative AI’s potential in an open and targeted way built for business.

1. CEO decision-making in the age of AI, IBM Institute for Business Value, July 2023.

About IBM

IBM is a leading provider of global hybrid cloud and AI, and consulting expertise. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. More than 4,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM's hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM's breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and consulting deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM's long-standing commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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Tue, 14 Nov 2023 00:41:00 -0600 en text/html
Pimly launches Partner Program for Salesforce SI's to scale The Product 360 No result found, try new keyword!Pimly, the innovator and pioneer of the Product360 is proud to announce the launch of its Pimly Partner Program. This Partner Program has tiered benefits and is open to System Integrators, ... Mon, 13 Nov 2023 07:49:00 -0600 en-US text/html Inside California’s billion-dollar bet to overhaul unemployment

By Lauren Hepler | CalMatters

Five years, $1.2 billion. And a new model for government contracting in the tech-challenged home state of Silicon Valley.

That is what California officials say it will take to overhaul an employment safety net pushed to the brink by record pandemic job losses, widespread fraud and the political panic that followed.

The biggest-ever attempt to reform California’s Employment Development Department, known as “EDDNext,” officially started late last year. A roughly 100-person team is leading the rebuild, and is already signing multi-million-dollar contracts for Salesforce and Amazon technology, according to interviews and records requested by CalMatters.

At the same time, the EDD is quietly making plans to move on from its turbulent relationship with longtime unemployment payment contractor Bank of America. Between now and 2025, the EDD will begin rolling out new benefit debit cards, and eventually, a direct deposit payment option from a different, yet-to-be-named contractor, the agency said in a statement.

Ron Hughes, a former state technology official and consultant who came out of retirement to run EDDNext, said his team is prioritizing “the biggest pain points for the public” — online accounts, call centers, identity verification, benefit applications — as the agency tries to turn the page on an era of mass payment delays and widespread fraud.

“EDD did over 200 technology projects during the pandemic. They were basically putting out fires,” Hughes told CalMatters. “EDDNext is really a way of being proactive about it. We want to solve some of these problems, instead of just putting Band-Aids on.”

A chart from the EDDNext Customer Centered Roadmap for 2022 through 2027. 

Workers still experiencing payment delays, fraud confusion and jammed phone lines are skeptical — especially since the EDD promised many similar changes after the Great Recession around 2009. Business groups, meanwhile, are sounding alarms about the state’s $19 billion in outstanding unemployment debt to the federal government. They are clashing with labor groups who want to expand jobless benefits and increase payments to keep pace with costs of living, instead of relying on fraud-prone emergency programs like those created during the pandemic — a newer version of an old fight about the scope of the safety net.

“There’s a longstanding narrative… like, ‘Look, see, this is a program that people just abuse,’” said Jenna Gerry, a senior staff attorney with the National Employment Law Project. “If people are concerned with real fraud, then I want to look at what solves it: fundamental reform of the system.”

For Jennifer Pahlka, who co-led Gov. Gavin Newsom’s task force to triage COVID-era problems at the EDD, the challenge ahead is emblematic of difficulties that many government agencies face in adapting to the digital age. As inequality widens and risks like fraud evolve, Pahlka wrote in her book “Recoding America” that the EDD still operates with patchwork computer systems, its staff bound by an 800-page training manual and political dynamics that can leave leadership more beholden to shifting regulatory regimes than real people — fundamental issues that could still undercut EDDNext and its 10-figure budget.

“Do I know how to wave a magic wand and fix California’s unemployment insurance system? No, I don’t,” Pahlka said in an interview. “But I do know that what we’re currently doing doesn’t work, and that other states have some approaches that we should be trying out.

“Start with not burning $1 billion in a parking lot.”

EDD Director Nancy Farias has read Pahlka’s book, and the many state audits that have dissected the agency’s recurring failures. She’s well aware of the “light switch” trap, where a government agency bets it all on one, years-long tech project, then prays it all works when a switch is flipped. To try to avoid that, she and Hughes decided to break EDDNext into dozens of smaller projects through 2028.

“It leaves less room for a big failure,” Farias said. It will only come together, the former labor union executive added, with parallel efforts to simplify the process and alleviate strain on staff: “You can have the best IT in the world, but if you don’t change your policies and procedures, it does not matter.”

The COVID hangover

This past summer, San Diego jewelry maker Phaedra Huebner found herself stuck in a loop that might sound familiar to people who filed for unemployment early in the pandemic.

At 8 a.m. each day, Huebner, 52, said she dialed the EDD right as call centers opened to ask where her benefits were. She used a trick she learned on YouTube to bypass pre-recorded messages, punched in her Social Security Number and tried to get in the queue to talk with a real person. Then came the redialing up to 67 times a day, bouncing between departments and, more often than not, hanging up without answers about when she might see the money she needed to make rent.

The twist: Huebner wasn’t filing for unemployment, but for disability — hinting at how issues with call centers and identity verification continue to ripple across EDD’s multiple large programs. After each day on the phone, Huebner said she wrapped her hands in ice packs to ease the shooting pains in her hands and arms that put her out of work in the first place.

“For six weeks I should have been resting,” Huebner said in early September. “Instead, I’m in pain with no disability income doing all of my own administrative work.”

The EDD’s benefit programs have always been complex and highly individualized. In the majority of cases, the EDD told CalMatters in a statement, people applying for benefits do not encounter major delays. The agency cited its own 2022 survey of several thousand people using its benefit systems, where 69% reported they were “completely or mostly satisfied” with the unemployment application process, and 63% were satisfied with the disability process.

The offices of the Employment Development Department in Sacramento on Jan. 10, 2022. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters 

The problem, workers and attorneys say, is that even a portion of the EDD’s customer base amounts to tens of thousands of people — and when things go wrong, they can still go very wrong.

In January 2022, for instance, the EDD froze 345,000 disability accounts, including an unknown number of legitimate ones, amid a wave of suspected fraud involving claims tied to fake doctors. Putting stronger safeguards in place is one of the “lessons learned from the pandemic that we should be applying to every program,” said former California State Auditor Elaine Howle.

“People saw the (unemployment) program was being defrauded left and right,” Howle said, “and it was like, ‘Shoot, if I can do that, what other programs are out there that I can defraud?’”

Mason Wilder, research manager of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, said unemployment and disability programs are just two examples of many public and private sector systems being targeted as online fraud gets easier. It now costs as little as 25 cents to buy a Social Security number online, leading to a cycle of large-scale attacks followed by broad fraud crackdowns.

The risk of unsuspecting people getting caught in dragnets is only anticipated to grow, Wilder and other analysts say, as technologies such as artificial intelligence allow scammers to work faster and more easily forge documents. Benefit debit cards used by California’s CalFresh food assistance and CalWorks cash aid programs have also been targeted in recent fraud schemes, along with many similar programs across the country.

“It becomes kind of whack-a-mole,” Wilder said.

That’s not to say that the EDD’s pandemic unemployment problems have been neatly resolved. As of September, more than 130,000 California workers were still fighting long unemployment appeals cases, waiting an average of 137 days for a hearing with a state administrative judge, according to U.S. Labor Department data analyzed by CalMatters.

The EDD’s own data shows that the number of rejected unemployment claims has climbed steadily since the pandemic surge, to more than 1.9 million claims rejected from March 2020 through October 2023. The agency says that reflects the success of anti-fraud measures; advocates see it as evidence that the state also continues to trap legitimate workers, given that federal data shows EDD decisions are overturned almost half of the time on appeal.

“I definitely don’t think anything’s been resolved,” said George Warner, director of the Wage Protection Program at Legal Aid at Work. “A lot of the issues remain the same.”

Nancy Farias, director of the California Employment Development Department, in front of the agency’s offices in Sacramento on Oct. 26, 2023. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters 

The EDD stresses that it has implemented changes recommended by the California state auditor — including providing more public data and creating a new plan for future recessions — but the auditor remains unconvinced that several major issues have been remedied. This past summer, the auditor added the EDD to its list of “high-risk” state agencies, unlocking additional resources for potential future audits. Top concerns were poor customer service, high rates of benefit denials overturned on appeal and the agency’s inability to tally pandemic fraud, delaying the state’s two most recent annual financial reports.

“EDD’s mismanagement of the (unemployment) program has resulted in a substantial risk of serious detriment to the state and its residents,” the auditor’s latest report concluded.

EDD Director Farias said that all states face similar challenges, especially when it comes to quantifying fraud that is widely varied and, for obvious reasons, difficult to trace.

“There is no definition of what is fraud… and that’s really the biggest problem,” said Farias, who also sits on the board of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies. “There is Nigerian fraud ring fraud — Fraud with a capital ‘F’ — and then there is, you know, Mary Jo Smith down the street that really didn’t understand what the program was.”

In San Diego, Huebner unexpectedly got an up-close look at how identity verification issues continue to plague the EDD. After she filed for disability, it took a month and a half to get her first check. But then she received a letter in the mail addressed to a woman with a different name and employer in Northern California, which said that her benefits had been discontinued.

When Huebner tried to call to figure out what was going on, she realized that her YouTube trick to get through on the phone no longer worked, throwing her back in benefit limbo while she recovered from a spinal procedure and waited to see if a new EDD debit card showed up.

“They won’t tell you anything,” Huebner said in late October. “Pain is one thing, but helplessness is totally different.”

What next for California unemployment reform?

Before he was hired to fix the state’s pandemic problem-child, EDDNext director Hughes was enjoying retirement on his Sierra foothills ranch dotted with cattle, horses and sheep. He put that on hold and went back to work at the EDD when his former colleague Farias asked him to.

Hughes is quick to note that he wasn’t there for the worst of the pandemic issues. He spends a lot of time talking with other state tech executives who can empathize, such as peers at the DMV.

Even from the outside, it wasn’t hard to see what went wrong at the EDD during the pandemic.

“When you roll out a solution, it needs to work. If it doesn’t work and they call the help desk, you need to answer the phone,” Hughes said. “We didn’t do either of those things very well.”

In June, his team launched a new online portal called “MyEDD,” which uses Salesforce technology for workers to file and track the status of their benefits. Some users reported crashes during the first days of the rollout, but the system stabilized. It will be built out over time, Hughes said, as the agency works through contracts for identity verification and a “claims navigator” to show workers all benefits they are eligible for.

A new call center system using Amazon technology is slated to debut within the year — first for the state’s older disability system at the end of 2023, Hughes said, then for unemployment next summer. The idea is to ultimately go from the five or six systems that EDD agents currently juggle to one system for processing claims.

“Under the new system, there is a single pane of glass,” Hughes said. “As soon as they call in, all the information on their claim will come up.”

It’s not the first time the EDD has tried to streamline its claims system, parts of which date back to the 1980s. Pahlka in her book compares making sense of the patchwork programs to going on an archaeological dig.

After the Great Recession, the state paid Deloitte to upgrade several facets of its operation, including part of its claim management systems, in a series of contracts that ballooned to more than $152 million from 2010 to 2018, copies provided to CalMatters show. That system was one of several that state reports later found buckled during COVID, but Deloitte was awarded another $118 million as the state doled out emergency pandemic funds, according to contracts provided to CalMatters.

The irony, as Pahlka observed in her book, is that the money went to the very vendor “which built the ineffectual systems in the first place.”

U.S. Rep. Katie Porter, a Democrat from Orange County who sits on a U.S. House Oversight Committee that has investigated pandemic unemployment fraud, sighed heavily when asked about the past Deloitte “unemployment modernization” project — a response, she said, to both the contractor in question and a broader lack of oversight on big-budget projects.

“Deloitte has an unfortunate track record of not getting it done here,” Porter said. “If we’re going to contract this and spend our dollars with a private company to do this, we have to hold them accountable for delivering.”

Deloitte defended its work for the EDD in a statement, noting that “many technology constraints highlighted by California elected officials during the pandemic related to functions in EDD systems that Deloitte was not contracted to maintain.”

The company declined to comment on whether it intends to bid on the new EDDNext project.

U.S. Representative Katie Porter speaks during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 8, 2022. Photo by Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS 

Hughes said that no vendor is off the table for EDDNext, but that past contract performance will be taken into consideration for all bidders. This time around, Hughes said the plan is structured to include more oversight.

“It’s just way too much work for one vendor to do, and so we’ve split that up,” he said. “We’ve got different vendors doing different solutions. We can manage them much more effectively that way.”

Familiar fights

Another promise of EDDNext, Farias said, is that workers, advocates and front-line staff will have more of a say in how the project is built. The agency has also created a new customer experience arm, which outside observers like Pahlka see as a promising development.

Gerry of the National Employment Law Project was among the worker advocates briefly shown a version of the new EDD online portal before it launched. It will require more sustained effort, she said, to ensure that people relying on the system end up with something easier to use.

“It’s hard, because yes, we see certain incremental changes, but these systemic issues are still there,” Gerry said. “Unless there really is a big overhaul within the agency culture and the way they’re approaching this EDDNext project, we’re going to see these problems continue.”

The EDD maintains that more visible changes are coming, including a planned redesign of the agency’s 10 most-used forms to cut unnecessary questions, translate them into more languages, and make them easier to understand and access online.

Similar efforts are also underway in many other states, where officials have raised questions about whether the federal government should do more to standardize applications, anti-fraud measures or other elements of the system. Robert Asaro-Angelo, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, recently told a U.S. House committee that states and territories that all currently have their own processes could use more guidance to bolster security while ensuring rightful benefits are paid.

“We keep talking as if there’s one unemployment system. There’s 53 different systems,” Asaro-Angelo said. “These fraudsters being able to pick and choose — they couldn’t be happier.”

In California, concerns about the nuts and bolts of the state’s unemployment program are magnified by a more fundamental concern: the financial quicksand beneath the entire system.

The state unemployment fund that pays for benefits is operating in the red, or “structurally insolvent,” as the California Legislative Analyst’s Office put it in a July 2023 report.

Though the state was making progress on paying down its $20 billion-plus pandemic unemployment loan from the federal government, state forecasts now show the debt creeping back up, adding urgency to a fight over whether to change California’s 1980s-era tax system.

Business groups are already pushing Gov. Gavin Newsom to use other state money to pay down the debt, despite California’s current budget deficit. The state has spent more than $680 million in recent years to pay interest on the federal loan.

“California’s vast unemployment insurance system has been under enormous strain since 2020, and employers are paying the price,” the California Chamber of Commerce argued in an August report.

From her vantage point at Sacramento’s Center for Workers’ Rights, labor lawyer Daniela Urban has watched cycles like this play out before. When the economy tanks, everyone — stressed-out workers, angry lawmakers, state watchdogs, the governor — wants to know what’s happening at the EDD.

But as people go back to work, the outside interest and funding wanes: a collective failure to fix the system before the next time things go south.

“Once the watchful eye is gone, I worry that it will be neglected,” Urban said, “and not by the people working there.”

Fri, 10 Nov 2023 10:47:00 -0600 CalMatters en-US text/html
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