Oklahoma Board of Architects, Landscape Architects and Registered Commercial Interior Designers
In 2019, the Oklahoma Board of Architects, Landscape Architects and Registered Commercial Interior Designers was searching for a digital licensing management platform to modernize its manual licensing processes.
The Oklahoma Board of Architects, Landscape Architects and Registered Commercial Interior Designers (OBA) received the green light in 2019 to migrate its outdated Microsoft Access database to a secure, cloud-based occupational licensing application and renewal platform. But if you ask the agency’s executive director Leslie Hanska about the need for a digital transformation, she will quickly tell you OBA’s system and processes had been steadily aging for just shy of a decade.
Having been an employee of OBA for 22 years with a concrete understanding of how state processes have historically functioned, Hanska had long been an enthusiast for adopting a more advanced, modern solution to support the agency’s licensing operations. So when Hanska learned the state’s SQL server was no longer going to be supported, she saw a window of opportunity to bring OBA’s license application and renewal processes into the 21st century to improve efficiency for agency staff as well as end users.
But with its 96-year record of accomplishment protecting the state’s citizens by establishing standards for professional qualifications and ensuring competence through education, experience, and examinations, OBA needed a partner that deeply understood the agency’s rigorous continuing education requirements, since it oversees more than 4,000 individuals and firms with highly complex licensed professions that require not only extensive years of education, but also core areas of competency that are maintained through ongoing highly technical training.
OBA needed more than a generalized platform – it needed a partner that understood regulation and a solution with robust mechanisms to create efficiencies in both evaluating competencies and overseeing continuing education directives.
An aging renewal system in need of a lifeline
Before implementing Thentia Cloud, OBA’s nimble, all-hands-on-deck team operated all processes completely manually – from managing licensee applications and renewals to recording and validating core competency and continuing education requirements. With every renewal period came thousands of printed and mailed documents and check payments, each of which needed to be manually touched by a staff member. The process was cumbersome and time consuming for staff and lacked efficiency and user-friendliness for licensees.
“We knew our system was aging,” Hanska says. “Our clunky processes were telling us that we were desperate for change. We were truly living in the dark ages.”
When Hanska was granted permission to start evaluating service providers for the project of migrating OBA to a new digital licensing management platform, she did what many regulators do: research large, enterprise solutions. She quickly discovered that well-recognized industry providers would not only be a sizeable and unaffordable investment, but that their products were also too big for the agency’s particular set of needs. What OBA needed was a specialized solution that met their regulatory requirements.
We learned very quickly that Thentia was serious about regulatory licensing. We felt confident that with their support and modern, state-of-the-art solution, that they could move us into the future where we needed to be.
Recommendations from trusted peers led OBA to Thentia
When Hanska didn’t know where to turn next, she decided to call on her circle of peers from state agencies both locally and internationally for recommendations and honest guidance. When she started to compare notes amongst her industry colleagues, she noticed a common thread between success stories: Thentia Cloud.
Built specifically for regulatory agency licensors with stringent needs and unique challenges, Thentia Cloud immediately became a contender not only for its sophisticated and highly configurable back-end application, intuitive and easy-to-use interface for licensees, and robust reporting capabilities, but also for its knowledgeable team who demonstrated a sound ability to grasp and understand OBA’s requirements and was eager to help.
“We learned very quickly that Thentia was serious about regulatory licensing. We felt confident that with their support and modern, state-of-the-art solution, they could move us into the future where we needed to be. That was a big driver for us,” Hanska recalls.
An immediate impact on agency workflows
Since deploying Thentia Cloud, positive feedback from users has affirmed that the new and improved user-friendly system – which can be accessed from anywhere with Internet connectivity – has enabled individuals to renew their professional licenses quickly and efficiently. Hanska says the convenience and ease of use contributed to a swift and successful renewal period using Thentia Cloud, reporting that 99% of OBA’s license renewals were processed on Thentia Cloud since going live on the new platform. In addition to simplifying and streamlining the licensing process altogether, Thentia Cloud has practically eliminated printed documentation, traditional mail delivery, and tedious manual work. As a result, more than 3,600 paper applications and checks have been eliminated from the licensing process. “Thentia has really made life a lot easier for our members to get online and apply or renew their licenses. The software is incredibly user friendly,” Hanska says.
The implementation of Thentia Cloud has also created significant cost savings for OBA by reducing spending on postage, paper, printing, and other costs related to licensing correspondence. As a result, Hanska says the agency has seen a 10% increase in revenue over the previous quarter before the deployment of Thentia Cloud.
Thentia Cloud’s seamless payment processing capabilities has also transformed the agency’s ability to collect payments and track them against licensing applications and renewals versus having to manually match paper documentation against mailed in payments. For OBA, eliminating its staff’s need to physically touch money has been especially important when it comes to state auditing requirements as it eliminates putting the agency and staff in a compromised position.
of license renewals processed on Thentia Cloud
increase in revenue over the previous quarter before the deployment of Thentia Cloud
paper applications and checks eliminated
Improved efficiencies to automate core competency and continuing education management
For OBA, Thentia has been especially instrumental in facilitating more efficient functionalities to support OBA’s onerous core competency and continuing education requirements. “Thentia has unquestionably simplified the complex administrative hoops we used to have to jump through. We now have put digitized mechanisms in place to record and validate continuing education activities before allowing the licensee to progress through the system.”
Hanska says this change is particularly beneficial to OBA in helping to transfer the continuing educating responsibility to the licensee to ensure compliancy. As a result, staff are no longer required to manually inspect each renewal for compliance as the system has the automated ability to support this task, which also includes categorical requirements that may be necessary for each continuing education cycle.
What makes Thentia Cloud’s proprietary, AI-enabled technology favorable for professional licensors with arduous continuing education requirements is that it supports multiple continuing education types, from learning plans with self-evaluation to credit and hour-based programs and everything in between, says Julian Cardarelli, Chief Executive Officer of Thentia.
“Our product is truly configurable with the built-in automated functionality to determine how many of what type of continuing education hours are required,” he adds. “Thentia can even require licensees to provide supporting documents with continuing education as a mandatory, which acts as a bit of a bonus as it creates a growing portfolio of continuing education where they can easily access and retrieve historical information.”
Cardarelli says, “We built our platform specifically for regulators, each of whom has unique, specified needs when it comes to continuing education.”
Up next: eliminating barriers to licensure
Since implementing Thentia Cloud at OBA, Hanska says she is more than willing to share her agency’s experience with fellow regulators in the same way that her peers did for her which helped inform her decision to move forward with Thentia.
OBA will continue its push to eliminate barriers to the licensing process. To do that, Hanska will continue to work with Thentia’s team to build out its analytics and data requirements so that the agency is better equipped to provide stakeholders and the public with the transparency they deserve.