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How to capture COVID-19 time spent with non-clients to be uploaded to EDMIS?

Sadly, we have all borne witness to how this coronavirus is impacting our families, our communities and our very way of life. The phone is ringing off the hook with people anxious to find out how they can save their businesses and prevent layoffs. The economic development community is trying to help as many people as possible and each of your commit daily acts of humanity, encouragement and love as you support all these people and businesses affected by the crisis. But all this time needs to be tracked and reported to your funding entities.

In this FAQ we will discuss how you can track your time on the phone as well we report your time to SBA via the EDMIS system.

Obtain a 641

It goes without saying that the best possible way of tracking your time is to capture a 641 record for each of entrepreneur or company that you interact with. SBA has relaxed the requirement of the signature on the 641 but all other normal data checks are still in place. If you are able to obtain a 641 for each client that you are working with then this will allow you to capture your counseling time AND it will allow you to track capital funding, milestones and awards for these clients as well. In the absence of a 641 you won't be able to track any economic impact for these people.

SBA has suggested that you create a 641 for every person that calls for assistance and setting their 641 business status to "not in business" so as to quickly create a record for capturing time. In other words, they recommend creating a not-in-business client record, regardless of whether the client is in business, or not, just to get them into the system. While we can see the benefit of doing this in the short-term, we worry about the long-term impact of having "bad" data in your database. For example, if you create a client record for a business that is clearly in-business but you mark their record as not being in business for ease of data entry, then what happens down the road when you mark them as being in business? Will that be counted as a new business start in EDMIS? For now, OutreachSystems' recommendation is that you only create a 641 if you truly know all the details about the client.

So what are the alternatives? At this time, we believe that there are three alternatives as listed below.

Create contact with inquiry

If you cannot get a 641 for each person calling for assistance, then the next best option is to create a contact record. The contact record only requires a last name and phone number or email address. Using this contact record, you can now track your time with the individual and you can even capture your email correspondence using the postbox enhancements that OutreachSystems recently made.

Disadvantage: Time! The biggest disadvantage of this method is the time it will take to enter the information. However, the time could be made up on the back-end when you have to tally all your unique contacts, which is not as easy to do on a spreadsheet.

Advantages: There are actually several advantages:

  • Down the road you can follow-up with these people and convert them to client records. In other words, there is not only a marketing benefit, but also a client conversion option available.
  • You know exactly how many unique people you have worked with. If Jane Doe calls a second time, then her record is already in Neoserra and you can simply add a second inquiry to record your time.
  • You can easily generated the "Inquiries by Area" report to get all the details necessary for your 888 record.
  • As noted above, you can track time using the postbox feature.

Maintain spreadsheet

Alternatively, the counselors can maintain a separate spreadsheet where they document the time that they spend answering the phone. Here they need to keep track of the nature of assistance provided (either COVID-19 Financing assistance or COVID-19 General assistance); a way to uniquely identify the person so that when that person calls back you can record additional time under the same record; and the total amount of time spent with each person. SBA does not specifically tell you what details you need to collect for each person that you talk to, but you do need to be able to count unique individuals and the time for each type of assistance that you have provided them.

Advantage: This may be a relatively easy way to track your time, although we fear that there may be more overhead than appears on initial review.

Disadvantages: We see two big disadvantages:

  • Depending upon how much information you gather on each person, this method may not give you any means of following up with these people, either to convert them to clients down the road, or even for marketing purposes.
  • As noted above, the fact that you need to track unique people calling into your program, may make the spreadsheet just as cumbersome to maintain as it would be to create an inquiry.

Create dummy pre-client record

The least desirable method would be to create a dummy pre-client in your Neoserra database and track all your non-client time under this one dummy record. In other words, you use one record to aggregate all your time spent with non-clients.

Advantage: This is probably the easiest method, and it puts all your time in one central location, but...

Disadvantages: We see several BIG disadvantages:

  • You don't have any way to follow-up with the individual people calling into your program.
  • There is no easy way to count unique people calling into your program. While you could arguably consider each counseling session to be a unique person, you don't really know if/when the same person calls back multiple times and there is really no way to track unique individuals.
  • And the last disadvantage is that you will need to be super careful not to submit this aggregate client record to EDMIS along with the 888 record. Yes, you would still need to create the 888 record to enter total time and the total number of interactions and unique people that you have worked with. Thus, to avoid double counting your time, it is really important that your dummy record is a PRE-client record, otherwise you will be uploading 641 time under one single client, and also tracking that same amount of time on the 888 record.

Submit 888 for non-641 client data

Assuming you keep track of your interactions with non-clients in any one of the three above mentioned methods, then at the end of the quarter, you will need to tally the total number of unique people that you have worked with for each of the two COVID areas of assistance (either COVID-19 Financing/Capital or COVID-19 General Support); the total number of interactions you have had with these people; and the time that you have spent with them in each category.

This will either be:

  • A tally of your time spent with each unique contact with inquiry record(s) and tracking total sessions. All of this can be accomplished by running the "Inquiries by Area" report, which gives you a tally of total unique people served, the total number of sessions that have been conducted with each person and the total time spent. The report is broken down by "COVID-19 General Support" and "COVID-19 Financing/Capital".
  • Counting the total number of unique people and sessions on on your spreadsheet under each category along with the time for each category; or,
  • Counting the total number of counseling sessions under the dummy pre-client record by each category of assistance and treating the sessions to be equal to unique people. This can be easily done using the "Counseling Sessions by SBA Area" report. Keep in mind, that this method will not be able to give you a true unique people count.

All of this information will need to be entered into two 888 records and uploaded to EDMIS as training records. As described below:

  • Go to View|Training Events click "New" and create the first for the two new training event records to capture non-client time:

  • Per SBA's instructions, the title of this training event record should be: "COVID-19 Counseling." We recommend augmenting this title with one of the two COVID types of assistance offered: (either COVID-19 General Support or COVID-19 Financing/Capital) to differentiate between the assistance being reported.
  • The reporting date should be a date during the quarter for which you are reporting. This probably should be the last day of the quarter.
  • Total hours should be the aggregate of all the time you have spent with non-clients during the course of the quarter related to the topic for which you are reporting.
  • Be sure to mark one or the other COVID-19 training topic to indicate which area of assistance you are reporting on.
  • Program Format should be "Teleconference".
  • The Number of Sessions should be set to set to the number of interactions you had had with non-clients. In this case, you are expected to count multiple interactions with the same person. Thus, if you speak with Jane Doe 3 times, then you would count that as 3 sessions:
  • Sub-funding source should be set to "CARES".
  • Of course, do not post this training event to eCenter.
  • The last step is the most important one, and that is to record the total number of unique people that you have spoken with regarding the topic selected above. Uncheck the box "Neoserra will calculate all fee and attendee demographic data based upon attendees listed?" so that you can manually enter in the count of people:

    If you know any of the other demographic details about any of the people you have interacted with, then you can also add this information. For example, you may know the gender of the persons you are speaking with, but most of the other details are likely to be unknown and can be left as zeroes.

  • Save your newly created 888 and repeat the process for a second 888 for the other topic.

The newly created 888 training event records should be uploaded, as normal, with all your other 888 training event records for the quarter. Yes, these newly purposed training records will cause havoc down the road on your SBA EDMIS reports for training events, but this is something SBA is aware of and will presumably account for.

Want more? Browse our extensive list of Neoserra FAQs.