Best Practices of Regulatory Body Staff

The staff of a regulatory body may have to look at hundreds of applications annually, and just like we wonder when we apply for a job, are they actually looking at each application with fair eyes? Are some reviewers more lenient than others when it comes to an application showing less experience than another? Not only is this unfair to the applicant, because they won’t know what to expect, but it could also be troublesome for the admin.

For example, an applicant could be missing proof of continuing competence but provide more hours of experience and be chosen over someone missing the same continuing competence without the extra experience. How can this process comply with best practices?

We’ve put together ways a College or Association can use to make sure their application process is a fair as possible. Check them out below!

Consistent Requirements

A series of requirements needs to be established by the regulatory body so that the staff knows that it is a MUST to meet all of them in order to move an applicant on to the next step. These requirements can often be thought of as a checklist or a workflow. Providing these requirements as a checklist to the applicants will help them be sure that they have provided what they need to. This will prevent any confusion.

Pre-defined application/registration templates that can only be edited by privileged users are excellent tools to create consistency for applicants. With templates you can set the list of requirements, such as fees, documentation, questions, etc., and only until those are filled out by the applicant they cannot pass onto the next step of the application process. This allows all applicants to be evaluated with a common set of requirements, and nothing more, therefore creating a level playing field to prevent any preferential treatment. The Ontario Human Rights Commission has created guidelines for the province’s employers due to previous issues with judging an international applicant based on how much “Canadian” experience they possessed. Reviewers will only have the ability to reject the person because of a missing requirement and not be able to excuse them by deleting it from the template, because it’s set to apply to everybody. 

Documented Reasons are a Must

If a requirement cannot be met for some reason (let’s say a transcript cannot be provided because the school is no longer operating), then the requirement should be cancelled (never deleted!) and a reason for the cancellation of the requirement must be provided so that anyone looking at the application in the future knows exactly what happened. Additional requirements may then be added to the applicant to replace the cancelled one. This makes the system audit-proof since everything is documented.

Documented reasons provide an explanation for decisions, such as removing or switching requirements, for other staff, auditors, and even the applicants to view. This is fair because without the need for documented reason, changing requirements could become abused.

Another requirement to add to a template is fees! Fees must be charged evenly across the board and one person’s fees can not be changed by while the fees of everyone else remain the same. To change the fees of an applicant, a privileged user must do it with documented reason.

In the special case that a requirement cannot be filled due to an unavoidable conflict (for example, an old transcript is required from a school that has been demolished), the College might need to cancel the requirement for the transcript and add a new set of requirements. In the case of a transcript, they might replace it with having to write an exam or reference letters from previous employers. Again, all changes to the requirements MUST have documented reason.

Experts in Large and Small Regulatory Bodies

In a large organization with many staff members, one person can be assigned to review only one section of an application, and that person will be considered an expert. For example, one staff member is in charge of fees, one is in charge of conduct, one is in charge of continuing competency, etc. This would ensure that the person reviewing has lengthy knowledge and experience, and can be “specialized” in that area of the application. This is beneficial because someone that knows the legislation that applies to that area can answer the most questions and deal with any problems in the best way. The application also gets reviewed in depth.

In a small organization with not as many staff members, a staff member will review the entire application and mark any red flags that show any discrepancies or missing information. The College may have a few part-time workers that are experts in different areas of the application and will later look at the red flags. This is a scenario where Task Management (video coming soon!), where a task is assigned to a staff member for follow up, would be very useful.

More People, More Fairness

Accounting uses Generally Accepting Accounting Principles (GAAP) which are standards and procedures accountants follow to make sure they have accurate reporting and avoid mistakes or even fraud. Similar to accounting, Colleges use best practices, one of them being that they should always have multiple people evaluating an application. This means that one person looks over an application and submits it for approval, then a second person looks at it after to approve it or send it back to the applicant for some additional work. With more than one person looking at it, it is less prone to errors and unbiased. If there was only one person reviewing applications, an applicant could be a friend of a staff member, and the staff member might let some mistakes slide by and give the applicant approval, which would be unfair.

Alinity Encouraging Best Practices

With Alinity, these best practices are baked into the system! Staff can leave comments on applications when there are any problems, and then assign a task to another staff member to view it. They can also enter different comments which can be viewed by the applicant, so that they know what to fix. Alinity tries to keep license management transparent, so there is no funny business!

If you have any more suggestions about how to make the application process more fair for applicants, please comment them below! Have a great day!