Before GL Suite:
Before partnering with GL Solutions in 2010, the Alabama Home Builders Licensure Board managed its work with the use of a Microsoft Access database, says Suanne Parnell, associate programmer analyst with the agency. The database had been built for the agency in the late 1990s and consisted of roughly half a dozen tables, few of which had any relationship with each other. As a result, staff users had to enter addresses and other information several different times and in several different locations.
Some of the agency’s records, meanwhile, were not handled by the database at all. They were stored on spreadsheets on users’ computers.
The agency managed correspondences manually. Staff would copy the last letter sent to a licensee, for instance, update the name and address manually, then send to the new recipient. This practice was slow and created too many opportunities for the introduction of mistakes.
Why software automation?
The agency eliminated redundant data entry when it went live with its GL Suite system in 2011. Agency staff were able to work more efficiently when they no longer had to enter the same names, addresses and other information multiple times in different locations, as they had to in the old Access database.
The new system reduced opportunities for errors. Mistakes can happen any time a user enters information into a system. By reducing redundant data entry, the GL Suite system also reduced opportunities for mistakes.
The new system eliminated potential data loss. Information stored on users’ spreadsheets can disappear much more easily than information stored in a secure database.
Because the system can send batch correspondences to licensees and others, it allows staff to work more efficiently. No more copying correspondences and updating names and addresses manually.
By supporting a public verification website, the GL Suite system also allows consumers, banks and building departments to confirm the status of licensees without involving agency staff.
How the agency has updated its GL Suite system:
GL Suite is a highly configurable system designed to respond to legislative and regulatory changes. Such changes began to occur as soon as the agency’s system went live, says Parnell, requiring a series of updates. These include:
- A new limited license type for home builders.
- Proof-of-citizenship requirements for licensees.
- A new roofers’ license.
- Continuing-education requirements for license renewal.
The agency also has updated its GL Suite system to take advantage of continuous software improvement at GL Solutions. This work includes the development of a more intuitive licensee search on the agency’s website and the improvement of its login and dashboard for online renewals.
How the agency uses GL Suite:
The Alabama Home Builders Licensure Board regulates residential construction. Its 22 users use GL Suite to manage the following aspects of its operations:
- License applications
- License renewals
- Consumer complaints
- Licensee status verification
- Communicating with licensees
- Tracking of continuing education requirements (soon)
At a glance:
GL Solutions client since 2010
Licenses and renewals processed annually: 8,000-plus
Unlicensed builders investigated annually: 150-plus
Consumer complaints processed annually: 160-plus
Number of staff users: 22