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What to Consider When Choosing a Credentialing Management System

by | Certification, Licensing

For any organization, selecting and implementing a new system can be a daunting task. For professional certification organizations and occupational licensing boards, choosing the right credentialing management system can be especially challenging because the software options for credentialing boards are limited. As a result, many boards are tempted by neighboring solutions, like Salesforce, Appian, or an association management system. And with enough elbow grease and customization, their IT teams will “just make it work”—eventually.

Technology selection, in general, has well-known methodologies, which we will not cover here. Our focus is on sharing the insights we have gained in implementing our software for over 50 different credentialing organizations. Certification and licensing organizations have common characteristics that will shorten the selection timeline and eliminate ill-suited options if addressed in the selection process.

Why Traditional Customer Relationship and Credentialing Management Systems Fail Certification and Licensure Boards

Understanding credentialing boards common traits can make the technology selection process better. Almost all boards:

  • Manage multiple processes – initial eligibility, renewal, reinstatement, audits.
  • Manage a process with time/date constraints – All of these things need to be done within a time cycle.
  • Require users to submit information and track activity – Demographic information, proof of completion, etc.
  • Communicate with end-users – Send confirmations, reminders, and notices via mail, email, and text.

When we look at these requirements, most customer relationship management, learning management, or association management systems may perform one or two of these activities natively. Since they are not designed for credentialing, these systems tend to require custom work on the process management component—which is core to the board’s operations. Therefore, you will want to narrow your final list of technology providers to just the credentialing management systems that support all of these functions without custom development.

What Are Credentialing Eligibility Requirements and Processes?

To qualify for a certification or license, the candidate must demonstrate that they meet the “4 Es”, education, professional experience, ethics, and exam. Each of these eligibility requirements has specific implications in the credentialing management system selection process. Based on our experience configuring hundreds of credentialing processes, here are a few key questions in each eligibility component.

Education Work Experience Ethics Exam

Does your credential require a degree from a specific type of academic program?

Does your program accept continuing education (CE) in lieu of specific academic degrees or coursework?

Tech: The system needs to support a catalog of approved academic programs/approved CE courses.

Does your program require transcript verification?

Tech: The system needs to have a means for a transcript to be submitted or uploaded for review.

Does your program allow for candidates with different combinations of education and work experience to apply?

Tech: The system needs to support multiple eligibility processes within the same online application.

Does your credential require related work experience verified by an employer?

Tech: The system needs to communicate with the employer to capture verification. It also needs to provide the applicant with the means of monitoring verification, and rerouting it if the employer contact is non-responsive.

Does your program accept part-time or volunteer work to meet the experience requirement?

Tech: The system needs to calculate how part-time roles and multiple full-time positions meet the experience requirement.



Many credentials require the applicant to attest to a code of conduct.

Tech: The system needs to capture applicant attestation as well as any allowable exceptions.

Some may run background checks on the candidates.

Tech: The system needs to capture relevant information for submission to a third party in a secure manner.

Does your program have a separate process for candidates with criminal backgrounds?

Tech: The system needs to support an exception process that allows for the consideration of an applicant with special circumstances.

Does a national testing provider administer your exam?

Tech: The system needs the ability to send authorization to test to the exam administrator, preferably by API.

Does your program require more than one exam?

Tech: The system must allow for multiple exam registration (either in series or concurrently), with separate score reporting for each exam.

Do you administer exams in test windows?

Tech: The system needs to allow the program administrator to configure the available test windows for registration.

Do you have a local or separately administered assessment?

Tech: The system needs to allow you to administer test sites with a proctor assignment and seat count.

Retake rules.

Tech: The system needs to manage exam retake rules within your application for candidates who fail the exam.


Tech: The system needs to capture the request for accommodations and have a standard review process for approving or denying the request and be able to communicate that information to the testing provider.

The Hidden Fifth E: Exceptions

Over the years, we have observed many certification and licensure boards cast a wide net by allowing exceptions to their rules. Behind the scenes, staff are managing workarounds and manual processes. The most common “exceptions” we have seen are:

  • Criminal history.
  • Test accommodations requests.
  • Reinstatement process.
  • Fee waivers, late fees, paper checks, employer payments.
  • Application fails audit.

Your credentialing management system should be flexible enough to build online processes around the most common “exceptions” so that you minimize manual “workarounds” which consume staff time.

Understanding the Complexity of Your Program

In the technology selection process, reflecting on how your program manages each “E” requirement will give you insight into how flexible and powerful your system needs to be. If your program is “exam only,” you won’t need a robust system. If your program accepts multiple combinations of education levels and work experience, you may want a system that makes it easy for applicants to choose the best pathway for their situation. Representing how complex your application requirements are will assist you in narrowing the possible credentialing management systems so that you don’t “over buy” or “under buy.”

What Are Your Program’s Renewal Requirements and Process?

Most credentialing programs require completing continuing education (CE) as a part of the renewal process. We have seen programs manage CE using two methodologies, approved continuing education provider programs and/or practitioner-submitted continuing education. Organizations may also include continuing competence requirements beyond continuing education.

Approved Provider Programs Certificant submitted CE Continuing Competence

Does your program approve third-party continuing education providers?

Tech: The system needs to support an application process, fee collection method, and publish a registry of approved providers.

Does your program require providers to submit an application per course for approval? Do you map the courses to the domain of the credential?

Tech: The system needs to support a course application process, a domain mapping mechanism, a fee collection method, and publish a registry of approved courses.

Does your program require providers to submit proof of attendance?

Tech: The system needs to support a means for the provider to log in and submit attendance rosters. You may also want the system to require the practitioner to “claim” and evaluate the course.

Records are considered “audited” because they are sourced from the provider, not the practitioner.

Does your program allow practitioners to submit continuing education?

Tech: System needs to support the recording of the CE and associate it to the practitioner record.

Does your program require proof of completion?

Tech: The system needs to have a mechanism for the practitioner to upload the image.

Do your staff review the CE logs and supporting documents?

Tech: The system needs to support staff reviewing the renewal application and supporting documentation.

Do your staff audit a percentage of renewals?

Tech: The system needs to determine applications to audit, support practitioners submitting CE completion if not required on submission, staff review of the materials, and communications of any deficiencies/resolutions.




Most programs with a continuing competence focus have an element of board-sponsored assessment or practitioner reflection, leading to directed learning.


Tech: The system needs to be able to integrate with the assessment system. Score reports should participate in the renewal requirements.


Tech: The system needs to have a mechanism to capture the practitioner’s reflection activity.


Additional Considerations in Credentialing Management System Selection

Beyond the initial eligibility and renewal requirements, we have observed several common business requirements typical of how the certification or licensure board operates. Your credentialing management system should be able to support:

    • Complaints and investigations – The means for the public to submit a complaint and the board/agency to conduct an investigation. The system needs to have the means to gather that information from the public, assign an investigator, and track the investigations process.
    • Personally identifiable information (PII) – This data may be in the form of a social security number, a combination of name, address, and last 4 of the SSN, or a tax document. The system needs to have the means to encrypt the relevant data fields or file attachments and allow the PII data-based system access visibility. In addition, the technology provider needs to have the means to accept PII data transfers securely.
    • Certificate printing – Some organizations have very detailed certificate printing specifications for wallet cards or wall-mounted certificates. You may also allow credential holders to download a PDF. The system should either support the loading of these templates for download or printing or integrate with a third-party fulfillment organization.
    • Communications – Most programs send out confirmations and reminders. The system should create templates for standard communications, conditional triggers for when they are sent, and offer tracking to confirm delivery. You may also want an integration with a system designed to send out marketing communications. Be cautious in using your credentialing system to send out marketing emails. If they are not opened, your emails will be flagged as spam and end up in the junk folder.
    • Reporting – Most programs have reports that they need to provide third parties and operational metrics for program management. The system should give you visibility to all of the data fields in the system and allow you to build reports to meet those needs.
    • Integrations – Most programs integrate with a test administrator and a payment gateway/eCommerce solutions. Your system should support integrations and have existing APIs for industry-standard vendors.

Choosing the Right Credentialing Management System

As you work through your technology selection process, keep in mind there are many different credentialing management systems in the market—some more robust than others.

As you review your eligibility requirements, renewal requirements, exceptions, and general operational requirements, look for a system that can deliver this functionality through configuration, not coding.

Getting Started With Heuristic Solutions

Heuristics Solutions provides software solutions for certification and licensing boards that give you the tools to manage your credentialing processes end to end.

If you are considering upgrading your certification management software or licensing management system, consider a credentialing management system built for an organization like yours. To learn more, connect with us on our contact page or schedule a meeting with one of our expert team members.


Heuristic Solutions is a leader in software and technology for certification, licensure, and accreditation. Partner with us today, and we’ll modernize your system to better serve your organization.


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