Tech Language for Regulators: Portals

June 22, 2021 by Eric Robb

Tech Language for Regulators: Portals

What is a portal, and how does it help regulators interact with licensees? In this installment of our series to help the regulatory community understand the lexicon of technology, we will uncover what a regulatory access portal is, what it does, and how it helps your agency achieve more than one goal.

Portals Improve the Constituent Experience

As regulators, you walk a fine line. On the one hand, you must protect the public by ensuring businesses and professionals meet minimum standards as determined by statute and rule. On the other hand, regulators are also providing a service to licensees and aspiring licensees who want the process to be as easy as possible.

Let’s consider an aspiring licensee (we will call him “Bob”) who is ready to submit his application to the regulatory agency. If your agency has a regulatory access portal, Bob can simply grab his smartphone or tablet, browse your agency’s website, and submit his application form and payment electronically from the comfort of his couch.

This level of convenience is a far cry from previous processes, which would require Bob to call or visit your agency to obtain the forms, and then manually complete and return them — a tedious process with a high chance of errors. Even downloading the forms from your website is time consuming and has the same potential for errors. Let’s take a closer look at how a regulatory access portal speeds the process and reduces mistakes.

Portals Support Self-Service

A regulatory access portal is an online interface between the agency and the individual that enables sharing of data, completing transactions, or searching for specific information. A regulatory access portal provides constituents with the ability to serve themselves across a wide range of interactions, including:

  • Submitting applications for licensure
  • Renewing an existing license
  • Submitting a change of name or change of address request
  • Searching for information on a licensee
  • Submitting a complaint to an agency regarding a licensee
  • Reporting an unlicensed business or individual inappropriately offering services

Portals Reduce Manual Processing

Regulatory access portals are not just good for your constituents. As regulators, you work very hard to review applications and validate that each aspiring licensee is qualified to become a card-carrying licensee. Allowing applicants to self-serve can speed that process.

Leveraging technology available today, regulatory access portals may be tightly integrated with the agency’s back-office licensing and enforcement system and database. This technology can serve folks like Bob with intuitive and dynamic forms and processes to initiate a request for licensure, renew a license, etc. Not only can this greatly improve Bob’s experience of submitting the application, but it can also reduce the chances for errors or deficiencies with the application. This is because the system can be set up to automatically validate responses provided within the application form. When Bob gets it right the first time, he can receive his license faster and get to work sooner! Bob is happy.

But enough about Bob. What does this mean for you, the regulator? Imagine that the “Bobs” you regulate can submit their applications via a regulatory access portal. The automatic validation works well to help reduce the chances of mistakes. The portal even handles the electronic payment required to submit the application. When all of this works together, the manual processing required of your agency staff is greatly reduced. No one is stuck doing labor-intensive data entry of the information submitted in the application. The opportunity for errors by agency staff is reduced. The payment is automatically received and recorded in the correct account. You can even create additional automatic validation rules to help ensure application accuracy and completeness.

Automatic validation doesn’t catch everything, of course; Bob may still make a mistake. However, that mistake, whether flagged by an agency staff member or an automatic validation rule by the system, is still easier to communicate and rectify in a self-serve, regulatory access portal model. Communication options are vast for informing Bob of the mistake. And when he is ready to correct the mistake, he may be able to do so, again, from the comfort of his couch.

Portals Help Regulators Reach Two Goals at Once

Jeff Bezos is quoted as saying, “The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works.” We think the Bobs in your constituency would agree. With a robust regulatory access portal, regulatory agencies like yours can provide self-service functionality to your constituents that “just works,” so you can achieve two goals at one time: keeping communities safe and licensees satisfied.

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