The challenges of a small regulatory agency
Prior to working with Thentia, one of the primary challenges of the Oklahoma Real Estate Appraiser Board was that as a small agency, it has an equally small budget while still needing to serve its 1400+ licensees. As a result, the board had heavily relied on a paper-based system. Key challenges of the agency included:
- Managing an enormous amount of paperwork
- Approving applications in a timely manner with a small staff
- Employee stress due to the number of applications and the impact of not meeting deadlines, given deadlines imposed by statutory oversight
- High costs associated with printing and mailing documents
- Most software providers offered cost-prohibitive solutions
Before going live on the Thentia Cloud platform, McEntire says the agency’s team was buried in paperwork when it came to managing virtually all the agency’s processes, including licensing, continuing education, complaint management, and more. So much of the agency’s time was spent physically printing, copying, scanning, folding, filling envelopes, moving files between boxes, and so on.
Paperwork created stress for employees too, McEntire says. During the busiest times of the year, many licensees would file their applications the day before their deadline, causing a mountain of paper that had to be processed on an extremely short deadline. Without doing so, licensees could become inactive and unable to work.
The paper-based system was costing the agency approximately $10,000 a year in postage and paper which accounted for a significant portion of their budget. Postage was high because appraiser certificates had to be sent by mail and there wasn’t much, they could do to cut down on printing costs.
When the agency received demonstrations of other software solutions designed to enable online licensing, the costs were always well above what the agency could afford – sometimes as high as $700,000, which was more than their annual budget.
“To be able to move to a digital process has saved the board quite a bit of money, but more importantly, it’s saved our mental health. Our stress level has greatly decreased, and the day-to-day pressure has eased up.” McEntire reports.
Solution details: The decision to move to a digital licensing solution
A few years before McEntire was introduced to Thentia, the state’s governor had put forward an executive order requirement that all state agencies provide online licensing. McEntire spent much time afterward trying to find a solution that would fit their needs, but all were far too expensive.
When McEntire was introduced to Thentia through a former appraiser regulator and connection, she was immediately impressed by the ease of the solution, and that it was affordable. “We honestly loved it and thought it was amazing. Not only was the platform user-friendly, but the cost was also within our budget and that’s really what drove our decision. I had a fire lit under me to get it done.”
Nadia Hosseinzadeh, Senior Manager of Customer Success at Thentia, adds, “We knew from the start that Thentia could make a huge difference to the workload the Oklahoma Real Estate Appraisers Board faced. It was our goal to reduce the burden of paperwork and their high operational costs too. We are delighted to have been able to address these challenges for them.”
“Thentia is incredible. I honestly feel like it is our fourth employee. It’s that employee who is working at night and on the weekends and on holidays. If we had a snowstorm tomorrow and we’re at home, I could come back on Monday and 40 licenses could have been issued without us having to do anything. It benefits licensees too because employees are not bound to the office. An appraiser can get their license issued at midnight. It is a fail safe for us in a lot of ways.”
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, OKLAHOMA REAL ESTATE APPRAISERS BOARD
With a new self-serve licensee portal, Thentia Cloud enabled appraisers to renew their professional licenses quickly and efficiently online, at any time of day. The portal, which has the ability to be highly customized by agency staff, allows users to easily apply for new licenses, renew current licenses, upload documentation, enter education and employment history details, make payments, download their license certificate, and more. McEntire says, “I open up the system in the morning and it might show me that 10 people paid their annual fees and were approved. What would have been approximately 20 minutes for a single paper application, happened instantly.”
In the system’s back-end workbench, administrators can quickly and easily send automated reminder notices about renewals, manually intervene with renewals where necessary, collect payments, issue receipts, and much more. Additionally, the public-facing license registry provides the functionality required for the public to search for licensees based on important licensee information.
Public online license search
Results of implementing Thentia Cloud
Since deploying Thentia Cloud, the Oklahoma Real Estate Appraiser Board has seen significant cost savings, time savings, and a reduction in employee stress. Feedback from appraisers across the country has been positive too, as they are also benefiting from the streamlined solution which is much easier to use.
+230% return on investment
The agency has gained over 230% return on investment (ROI) from Thentia, thanks to decreased printing and a reduction of 80% of overall postage costs. “When we compare our software licensing costs compared to what we used to spend on postage and printing costs, we’re coming out ahead. We used to spend $10,000 on paper and postage in a year. Now, for a $3,000 annual expense, we have a net gain of $7,000. For our agency, we’re coming out ahead by moving to Thentia”, McEntire says.
100% reduction in paper-based licensing applications
Licensees have switched over completely to online applications saving the agency significant time in managing paperwork. Certificates can now also be issued electronically and even enforcement emails are now sent through Thentia’s email application rather than standard mail.
Time efficiencies – Licensing related phone calls cut by 75%
No longer does the agency receive calls from appraisers asking, “Where’s my license?” “How many hours of continuing education do I have?,” “When are you going to process my application?,” or, “Hurry up and process my application.” McEntire estimates phone calls have dropped by 75%.
Time efficiencies – Renewal applications are 500x faster
The agency would sometimes receive ten renewal applications a day that would have required 2‐3 hours to fully process. Now, only it only takes about 20 seconds per day for someone to glance over the applications that have been processed by Thentia Cloud.
Improved licensee experience
Thanks to the new streamlined experience, licensees can have their applications processed in minutes rather than days. McEntire has had feedback from appraisers in Texas, saying their new licensing process for temporary applications was the best system they had ever seen. She notes that those individuals have been through licensing in every state, making their feedback even more meaningful.