The Arizona Registrar of Contractors is a trailblazer, issuing and maintaining contractor licenses with a customer-centric approach.

 

The history of an agency.

The Arizona Legislature established the Registrar of Contractors in 1931 to: issue and maintain contractor licenses, investigate and cite violators, adopt construction standards, educate the public and contractors on rules, policies and procedures, and to assist in dispute-resolution.

“Esse quam videri means to be rather than to seem, or to be good without concern of how you look,” said Jeff Fleetham, Director the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (AzROC). “It’s a phrase my team and I have taken to heart as we work to be the premier contractor licensing agency, wisely managing our resources, and effectively navigating external relationships to further our mission.” AzROC’s mission is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public through regulatory systems designed to promote quality construction. 

The need for the cloud.

AzROC currently issues over 43,000 licenses to construction companies and investigates roughly 7,000 claims per year. Approximately 75% of these businesses have five or fewer employees. And this is all done by a team of just 105 employees, who typically work from an office, Monday through Friday, 8:00 to 5:00.

“However, the expectations of many of our customers changed to wanting digital access to services anytime and anywhere,” recalled Fleetham. “The ROC to modernize technology and expand self-service options while continuing to reduce ‘red tape.’”

For example, if there was a hardworking construction professional that wanted to start a business or get a license, the process was cumbersome and form-heavy. Approximately 20% of an applicant’s waging time was used to complete the process. Contractor complaints took 4-5 months to address, and new licensing applications took up to four months. “This means we had to move faster than the traditional paper-based processes,” said Director Fleetham. “Like Governor Ducey says, our charge is government at the speed of business.”

Fleetham and his team began to assess AzROC’s operations, looking for ways to modernize the manual and paper-based processes facilitating their license and investigation workflows. “We became solution developers. We had to make it easier for all seven million of our customers to partner with us. No matter how big or small; no matter how hard it was. Our customers wanted digital access to services anytime, anywhere. This began our digital transform journey,” said Director Fleetham.

Introducing an omni-channel licensing, renewals, and investigation system.

In partnership with MST Solutions, a global Salesforce Partner, AZROC launched its licensing, renewals, and investigations solution on the FedRAMP-authorized Salesforce Platform. “It is an automated, digital case management system that guides customers through the various steps and forms required to obtain a license, initiate an investigation, or update their credentials.” said Jeff Zimmerman, Chief Information Officer, AzROC.

The information submitted through the system is captured in a profile-like setting, giving AzROC a 360-degree view of the customer request. The configuration capabilities available via the Platform enables AzROC to capture information unique to the mission (think: picklists fields with options like “activation date” or “permit close date”) without having to write custom code. “This not only saves time and budget, but also allows for automatic updates that are pushed through the AzROC system,” said Zimmerman.

The Platform’s configuration capabilities also helped support AzROC’s three-fold process covering its major operations – accounting, compliance, legal, and licensing -- allowing the team to offer a consistent user experience on the front end without having to sacrifice the necessary program-specific workflows on the backend. “On the licensing side, for example, we can enforce role and responsibility parameters. The team uses Pareto charts to assess what criteria is most important to a given customer, and then determine process flows from there. We built this right into the workflow rules, developing a system that can address the needs with the biggest impact, first. Then we began the integrations of the accounting and legal departments” said Brian Kirby, Director of Strategic Licensing Solutions, MST Solutions.

APIs share information between departments, and push notifications alert staff of new action items. Insights and best practices from the Salesforce AppExchange marketplace accelerated design and deployment time even more. “From an IT standpoint you're managing one platform versus several throughout your agency, or even your state” Zimmerman added.

 

AzROC demonstrates an industry best practice: voice of the customer

AzROC department heads, managers, and customer service representatives provided the requirements necessary to meet their customers' needs. The system design leveraged those requirements, ensuring that data and processes were truly aligned “We embarked on a mission to provide everything needed to submit an application or file a complaint online. We asked and listened to our customers and developed the requirements to meet those needs.”

Jeff Fleetham, Director

AzROC department heads, managers, and customer service representatives provided the requirements necessary to meet their customers' needs. The system design leveraged those requirements, ensuring that data and processes were truly aligned. “We embarked on a mission to provide everything needed to submit and application or file a complaint online. We asked and listened to our customers and developed the requirements to meet those needs,” said Director Fleetham.

The transformation of an agency.

“The licensing management system started to ease the pressure inside the walls of the ROC. There were fewer callbacks and fewer complaints up the ladder which meant more time was spent servicing our customers,” said Director Fleetham.

Within just nine months, AzROC revamped the following business cases:

  • New Licenses Applications: New application submissions automatically alerted the Licensing, Accounting, and Legal teams seamlessly triggering the investigation process into the applicant’s background.
  • Customer Complaints: New customer complaints triggered the Compliance, Licensing and Legal Departments. Additionally, customers receive automatic updates on complaint statuses.
  • License Renewals: The solution automatically notifies customers of upcoming license expiration and exam/validation requirements to extend an existing license. The Legal and Licensing team are also updated in order to validate any newly entered information.

The results were exceptional:

  • Estimated savings of 8,000 hours of data entry.
  • Eliminated the need of a 3rd party application, saving an estimated $100,000 annually
  • Built-in address verification and standardization function that reduced returned/rejected mail by $25K (or 5,250 pieces of mail).
  • Estimated 59% reduction in application deficiencies.
  • Reduced customer phone and email inquiries into the department by 18%.

“We also integrated Smarty Street, an address verification tool, which we estimate has saved an additional $11,000 annually due to an increase in data accuracy,” said Zimmerman. “Different departments were able to collaborate on the same platform without having to ‘swivel chair’ between systems.”

Even bigger (big picture) impacts.

In addition to the numbers, AzROC’s digital transformation completely changed how customers conducted business with the organization. “Let’s say you were deployed overseas, and you want to be a licensed contractor when you came home. You had to wait until you returned to begin the licensing process,” said Director Fleetham. “Now, once license exams are integrated, the entire process can be completed online; and the minute you jump off the plane you're a licensed construction professional in the State of Arizona.”
 

AzROC Solution Highlights

AzROC established a clear goal and followed through with action.

  • Provided a customer-centric experience that was based on direct feedback.
  • Identified a cloud-based platform that aligned with its goals and operational requirements.
  • Leveraged the subject matter expertise provided by MST.
  • Continues to invest in training and enablement, ensuring its investment in technology remains an investment in the mission

Transitioning to the cloud also prepared AzROC for the unexpected onset of COVID-19. Like many departments and agencies, AZROC was a “brick-and-mortar” team that had to rethink the workday as physical distancing guidelines were issued. The Platform helped the AZROC team to seamlessly transition to a remote work environment, without disrupting their ability to maintain service delivery. “It’s proof that if you are listening to your customers, you will always have a strategy that is right, no matter what might impact the mission,” said MST’s Kirby.

“This solution was simply to serve our customers. It has worked before, during, and will continue to work long after the current crisis,” said Director Fleetham. “We must hold ourselves accountable for results, to the citizens of Arizona, and to our colleagues because it is the right thing to do.”

 

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