October 11, 2021

When should you seek software help? The case of the midnight background checks

software background checks

When should a professional licensing agency reach out for software help?

Sometimes, the answer’s obvious. Agency directors usually speak with multiple vendors before replacing an aging licensing system or commissioning an initial system. When the decision involves an entire system, it’s a no-brainer: Call the experts.

Often, however, the answer’s less obvious. Let’s say your agency has a licensing system that meets most of your needs, but a key staffer often works until midnight to finish her work. Should you live with it and hope your staffer doesn’t burn out and quit? Or should you call for help?

You should call for help, of course. Odds are, a software vendor has seen this problem before and can propose a solution you hadn’t considered.

For the next few weeks, we’ll look at real-life problems brought to our attention by licensing agencies that weren’t in the market for full systems. In each case, a software solution was available.

Those *&@#$ Fingerprint Cards!

This week’s example involves a Wyoming human services agency with a background-check headache. When it came to us, the agency didn’t need a licensing system or a case management system. What it did need was a solution to a fingerprint-processing problem that often forced staff specialists to work late into the night.

This agency is responsible for processing background checks for most providers managed by the state’s family services department. The process begins with the receipt of paper forms and fingerprint cards for up to 300 background checks per week. A department specialist copies information from the forms onto a spreadsheet, then delivers the fingerprint cards to the law-enforcement agency authorized to run the checks. The agency makes the results available in the form of pdf documents for each applicant, which the specialist downloads, places in document folders on a computer, then manually attaches to emails sent to each applicant.

Doing all of this for 300 people every week is slow and tedious work. It’s also prone to problems that slow down the background-check process, including data-entry errors and illegible handwriting on submitted forms.

A Software Solution for the background check process

A relatively simple software solution was identified. The department could provide an online portal that would allow applicants to enter information themselves, eliminating paper forms covered with chicken-scratch handwriting that must be entered manually. A database would retain applicant information and automate responses to applicants following the completion of checks. This would virtually eliminate data entry (and data entry errors) as well as the tedious creation of individual response emails.

Such a system would not eliminate the hand-delivery of fingerprint cards, which is required by state rules. Because such systems are configurable, however, the delivery of electronic fingerprint forms could be automated if the rules changed. The addition of interfaces would allow automated data transfer not only to and from law enforcement officials, but also to and from licensing and case management systems in other departments.

The lesson: Rather than suffering in silence, reach out to a software expert. They almost surely can provide a solution to your problem. Plus, software doesn’t mind working until midnight.


GL Solutions has developed licensing and case management software for state government since 1997. Its configurable GL Suite application is used by dozens of agencies, from Alaska to Connecticut.


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