Do you remember playing the game of telephone when you were a kid?
If you need a refresher on the rules: You sit in a circle with your friends, and one person whispers a message into their neighbor’s ear. The message is then passed by whispering from person to person around the circle until it returns to the original whisperer. By then, the message is usually quite garbled and silly — hilarity ensues.
Sometimes as a CRA, it can seem as if you’re playing a game of telephone with background screening data– particularly on criminal background checks. Except the stakes are infinitely higher.
The typical “old school” data gathering process involves a vast network of vendors, each of which contracts with other researchers to harvest conviction records from the courts. As the data passes from hand to hand, every step compounds the possibility of delays, errors, and miscommunication.
By the time the data reaches the end-user, it has gone through multiple layers and — critically — less timely than the end-user expects.
In the traditional background screening data supply chain, you — the CRA — and your end-users are seated at the end of a very long game of telephone. Now imagine sitting immediately next to the first person in the circle. You may not hear the funniest message, but it will be the most accurate! (And it will get to you as quickly as possible.)
This is how direct-source data works.
What Is Direct-Source Background Screening Data?
Enough about kids’ games. What does direct-source mean in the context of background screening data?
As we explained in our free ebook, “How Direct-Source Data Improves Turnaround Time and Accuracy,” direct-source data gives you “a direct line between you, your end-users, and the courts, with as few layers of separation as possible. In other words, direct-source data is always the best data for fast, reliable, secure background screening."
Bill Wilder, InformData’s Chief Operations Officer, said in a recent webinar that direct-source data is about eliminating handoffs. With every movement of data through the data supply chain, there is a chance of it “being morphed or transformed or altered in a way that doesn’t work for you,” Wilder said.
Direct-source data does away with the middlemen, giving your CRA the easy access you need to provide the speed, transparency, and customizability your end-users demand.
How Direct-Source Data Empowers CRAs
Moving away from the hassle of managing a nationwide patchwork of vendors to partnering with a single national direct-source data provider can help CRAs compete, grow, and serve their end-users more effectively. Here are three reasons why:
1. Faster, More Reliable Turnaround Time
In today’s war for talent, most end-users can’t afford to fall behind even a single day filling their open seats. Job candidates simply have too many options to waste time waiting for employment background checks to be completed.
Unfortunately, your regional data vendors may not move with the urgency your end-users require. Sometimes working through three or four layers of subcontractors, most regional vendors adhere religiously to a “first in, first out” throughput model. No matter how time-sensitive your needs are, you can find yourself stuck behind another background screening company’s orders — and no amount of coaxing will get the vendor to prioritize your work.
A national direct-source data provider, on the other hand, has the flexibility to optimize throughput to meet your deadlines.
“Moving away from ‘first-in, first-out’ strategy in a time of crunch will increase throughput 25% to 30% per day,” Wilder said during the webinar. He offered one recent example from the notoriously inefficient Cook County, Ill.:
“We were able to divide the team in half. Some of the team worked on clears, and the other team worked on hits — so that the clears moved very quickly, and then the hits could be worked on in a timely manner. And that radically increases the throughput during the short period of time.”
2. More Control Over Customization
As your CRA has probably experienced, end-users can be quite particular when it comes to formatting and reporting results. Many CRAs try to differentiate themselves by catering to the end-user demand for customization.
Unfortunately, Wilder pointed out during the webinar, “When you are dealing with many layers in a supply chain, you have almost no ability to customize things.”
“If you have an end-user that wants a certain disposition coded a certain way, it’s almost impossible to execute that reliably with multiple layers. You may tell your vendor, who may or may not tell their subcontractor, who may or may not tell their subcontractor…At the end of the day, your customized differentiation to your end-user is diluted.”
In contrast, the closer you are to the original data source, the easier customization becomes. Because they don’t have to pass data through a network of subcontractors, a direct-source data provider can implement any customized reporting rules you and your end-users request, delivering the data exactly the way you want it formatted and displayed in your system for your specific adjudication process. Direct-source data’s flexibility for customization helps your company boost efficiency while pleasing your current clients and earning business from new clients.
3. Increased Transparency
Transparency is essential in background screening for compliance and setting end-user expectations. But when your background screening data acquisition is filtered through layer upon layer of vendors and subcontractors, can you really know what the situation is like on the ground in a particular court? Why is this search taking so long? When can I expect the search to be completed? Can you update the date of birth on this search? What exact sources are being used? I need more clarification on the record you found. (It’s the telephone game all over again.)
By partnering with a direct-source data provider, you can remove the layers that obscure your view of the research process, which enables you to provide more complete documentation and more accurate estimates to your end-users.
Simplify the Model With Direct-Source Background Screening Data
When you enter into a partnership with a national direct-source background screening data provider, your CRA’s business model almost instantaneously becomes more streamlined.
The advantages are numerous. They include the three we discussed in this article — better turnaround time, customization, and transparency — as well as all the benefits that naturally arise from vendor consolidation:
- Data normalization and consistency
- Higher quality data
- Less internal labor to manage a large network
In addition, the flat-rate pricing offered by a data provider such as InformData allows you to buy data the way you sell it, making your finances more predictable and empowering your sales team to sell confidently.
The nationwide direct-source data model is an exciting new development in the background screening industry. To help you understand how direct-source data can transform your business, we’ll be publishing additional explanatory articles about direct-source data over the coming weeks. Subscribe to this blog to ensure you won’t miss anything.
For an up-close look at how InformData can help your CRA eliminate middlemen and get closer to the data, click here to schedule a demo.