Interesting ideas emerge when you spend your days thinking about quality. Like the idea that one can reach a level of quality where a defect occurs only 3 times out of a million.
As the Director of Verifications and Quality for Wholesale Screening, quality is where I spend a large part of my days. Thinking about it. Looking at it. Digging into it. Along with my colleagues on the quality team, we turn the concept of quality inside out and are obsessed with the idea of maintaining the highest levels in the industry.
From access to PII in court records to how we approach continuous improvement, the factors that influence quality are more complex than they were even 10 years ago. Here are some of the key factors we at Wholesale Screening believe are impacting quality more than ever right now:
1. Court clerks and access to court records
In public records research, the operations of the local courts are inextricably linked to our own. Everything from how the courts update and maintain their records to whether and how they provide access to those records has an impact on our ability to do what we do. And it has a clear impact on the quality of the data we provide to our CRA customers.
We closely monitor the courts to keep an eye on any changes to their public records access (courts are increasingly moving to online access as opposed to public terminal access or hand searches). We also closely monitor trends involving the redaction of personally identifiable information, (PII) from court records. Finally, we carefully manage our relationships with individual clerks at the courts in order to help facilitate faster, more accurate research.
We saw a manifest impact to court operations during COVID-19 in both small and large jurisdictions. Court closures and staffing limitations underscored the importance of maintaining our relationships with the courts and clerks to give us insight into delays, and to keep the lines of communication open. Furthermore, the decisions made by an increasing number of courts to redact certain PII from public records or to outright close public terminal access has obvious impacts on a researcher’s ability to deliver timely and accurate data.
In Michigan, for example, the courts were going to redact dates of birth from public records beginning July 1, 2021. This would have had devastating consequences for employers in the state of Michigan. But thanks to lobbying by members of the Professional Background Screening Association, the Supreme Court of Michigan has currently delayed the redaction of dates of birth until January 1, 2022.
2. Quality of the research team
Despite many advances in automation and technology, public records research is still very much reliant on people working behind the scenes, visiting the courts, engaging with the clerks, and providing that layer of diligence required to deliver quality data. At Wholesale Screening, we put our people first. We know that having the right people in place, supporting and training them, and measuring their performance is key to quality performance.
3. How defects are addressed
How an organization views defects, whether stemming from human, process, or technology, says a lot about their approach to promoting quality. Here at Wholesale Screening, defects are seen as an opportunity to learn and improve. We have a really solid process. For example, when our clients interact with a client service team to report a defect, our quality team jumps in to explore the situation. An assigned SME researches what happened and if they determine facts support a potential defect, they work directly with the researcher and complete a defect correction form. This form details all of the factors (client, jurisdiction, date, charge level. disposition, corrective actions taken, and preventative measures implemented to avoid a similar defect in the future). This creates a full feedback loop. The quality investigations team then evaluates whether there may have been a process or training gap.
4. How quality is measured
While we look at quality numbers on a daily basis, we have a monthly state of quality meeting in which we look at our accuracy rate and sigma level, and hone in on specific types of defects and why and what we’re doing to correct those. We look at our suppliers, our field offices, and court level defects. All aspects of quality are measured and managed.
Today, I sit here over halfway through 2021 and reflect on the fact that we are currently operating with a record volume of business and quality metrics that are also at all-time highs. I’m proud to say our current state of quality for the first half of 2021 sits at a record 99.9837% accuracy rate with a 5.09 sigma. We are confident you won’t find another partner in the industry with a quality record that measures up to ours. We’ve learned a lot about what it takes to influence quality and we continue to watch those factors that impact our success.