We are building a learning platform for underserved communities called VeroSkills. And the main target audience for us right now are non-governmental organisations and their members who want to gain new professional skills in the tech domain — specifically as developers.
When it comes to onboarding users on the platform — this flow takes time. Most of our students haven’t yet had experience with coding or online learning platforms, so a lot of things are new to them.
To avoid frustration & demotivation at the very beginning, these first steps are vital ones and require support from the VeroSkills admins.
What was slowing down initial onboarding flow
The main problem VeroSkills admins were facing is the amount of time spent on manual work:
- having introduction calls with each student from a cohort
- following up with emails after each contact
- sharing the coding challenge for soon-to-be students and checking the results
- creating users in the VeroSkills database manually and sending out invitations.
💡 Cohort is a set group of students (usually ~10) that are formed and onboard on the VeroSkills learning platform together from one NGO.
Initially, a VeroSkills admin needed to process around 10-15 prospective students, but then the amount of students to onboard increased to 40+ per month and some automation became required. Especially considering that most of the work done manually was the same for each student: the same intro calls with the same questions, the same basic coding challenge.
We started with an estimated time for 1 student onboarding of 1 month. The target was to decrease it to at least 2 weeks.
What tools make onboarding faster and easier
We didn’t want to make it another dev task to spend time and effort on — we have already a lot in the backlog, so we utilised no-code and low-code automation tools:
- Typeform for basic form application & coding challenge
- VideoAsk for questions from us & video answers from students
- Zapier to pull data from multiple sources and bring it all in one place
- Notion for creating the candidates database and keeping it all in one place
- OpenAI to check coding challenge answers
- Postmark to automatically send out emails
How we put them all together
Here's the flow that we got →
There were several challenges when building the automated onboarding flow:
Challenge 1: we needed to support manual interactions with the database in case of errors or uncertainties.
- Solution: the whole flow is based on the statuses change, so we split the manually updated statuses & processed statuses in 2 separate fields.
This way when something needs to be updated, we could now just use the manually updated status field and the script will take it from there.
Challenge 2: we needed to minimise the number of human interactions with the flow (as there are several VeroSkills admins)
- Solution: now there are only 3 points where VeroSkills admin engagement is needed:
1. review basic application form and approve a candidate for VideoAsk,
2. review the VideoAsk and approve for coding challenge, and
3. create a new company in Retool (our admin panel).
Well, the main metric we targeted to decrease did get lower — now it takes around 2.5 weeks for a prospective student to complete all onboarding steps — and we can process more students in parallel now.
This shortened onboarding flow allows us to grant access to VeroSkills faster. So students start learning sooner, and the product gets the subscription payment from the NGOs sooner.
We discussed this automation process in more detail during this interview, check it out: