Here’s what’s new with CertMetrics™ Candidate, Credentialing & Data Management

CertMetrics “2.0”, the next generation of Alpine Testing Solutions, Inc. (Alpine) credentialing, candidate, and exam data management solution, quietly launched early in 2021.With three new client implementations on the 2.0 platform underway and more than a dozen existing clients poised for migration, Blair Harris, Vice President of Technology Solutions at Alpine, slowed down for a few minutes to share with us a bit about what makes CertMetrics 2.0 so exciting.

Q: Why did Alpine invest in CertMetrics 2.0?

A: To better serve our customers. The 2.0 initiative started in earnest in 2018. The impetus, though, dates back to 2006 when Alpine set a goal to provide testing programs with a modern credentialing, candidate, and data management solution. We assembled a team that included some of the most experienced and visionary talent in that arena. In late 2008, we launched CertMetrics. From its humble beginnings, CertMetrics grew in functionality and scope to become an industry-leading candidate and credential management solution. While it was – and still is – an industry-leading solution, in 2018 we began work on a significant update that would keep us true to our purpose of providing a fresh solution to meet the current and future needs of testing programs.

Q: What is new in CertMetrics 2.0?

A: Everything. We shifted to a brand-new code base, added a middle-layer, and vastly expanded our API capabilities. We completely updated the look, feel, and navigation of the UI, including a new candidate portal with a fully responsive design that adjusts how information displays for mobile and tablet users, and is designed to meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). We enhanced the candidate and data flow to work even better within and across multi-platform ecosystems. And, CM 2.0 is hosted in the cloud rather than in an on-prem data center. All of this provides a solid, enterprise-level foundation upon which CertMetrics can continue to grow and evolve into the future.

In keeping with our goal to provide our clients with an enterprise-class solution and consistent user experience across the entire CertMetrics platform, we spent months evaluating technical options before deciding on Angular coupled with Material Design. Material Design layout has become the gold standard for unified user experience across various devices, platforms, and input methods for web applications.  Alpine has also designed the CertMetrics 2.0 front end to meet WCAG. These guidelines are a set of recommendations for making web content more accessible, primarily for people with disabilities.

The new middle layer and APIs provide clients with the ultimate flexibility to pull data in real time from CertMetrics and display it within their other systems. This ensures that their testing population and other users see the most current information when and where they need to see it. While most programs leverage the middle layer APIs in a limited manner, they are designed and built to support programs that want to create their own front-end interface and rely on CertMetrics to manage the data behind the scenes (known as a headless approach). CertMetrics can support both standard, hybrid, or headless approaches to sharing data to other systems.

Hosting in the cloud rather than on-prem provides an added layer of comfort for programs using features that require maximum availability.  Many programs now rely on CertMetrics to be an integral part of their multi-platform ecosystem through which data and candidates seamlessly travel to share eligibilities and to schedule and launch exams. This shift happened very rapidly over the past 18 months. Hosting in the cloud ensures that CertMetrics can even better support the high-availability demands associated with these and future needs of the testing industry.

Q: What are some of the benefits of CertMetrics 2.0?

A: There are so many! Here’s just a sampling:

  • Quickly view candidate exams, credentials, transcripts, and badges in a card view layout.
  • Easily navigate and use the site on mobile and tablet devices.
  • Catch your candidates’ attention with improved candidate announcements that include eye-popping images.
  • Target specific groups, like candidates who have never tested before, with segmented announcements.
  • Customize the English text and add translations for other languages inline, including when using the Impersonate the Candidate Feature from the test sponsor portal.
  • Create user roles and set very granular user permissions.
  • Experience improved usability with candidate searching and sorting, including deeper sub-filtering. 
  • See what your candidates see via the updated Impersonate the Candidate Feature in the test sponsor portal.
  • Run standard and select advanced visualization reports via SSRS and QlikSense.
  • Utilize Single Sign-on (SSO) with Just-in-Time (JIT) provisioning for three standard SSO frameworks (JWT, WS-Trust, and OIDC).
  • Streamline sharing of data across systems with GraphQL for APIs. 

Q: Will anything of CertMetrics 1.0 be preserved in CertMetrics 2.0?

A: Absolutely. A lot of great features and functionality in CertMetrics 1.0 have been widely leveraged by credential programs. While the features may look a bit different in 2.0 than they did in 1.0, we are keeping those feature sets intact. And, we are improving upon them where possible based on our experience, usage data, and customer feedback. 

One of the things that separates the 1.0 platform from our competitors is that we designed and built it from the ground up.  We don’t rely on open-source or a third-party CRM as a foundation, and therefore we are not constrained by such systems as to when and how we can make changes to our platform. The same is true of the 2.0 platform. We started from the ground up and we are not dependent upon or beholden to open source or a third-party CRM.

We continue to leverage Alpine’s expertise in data management, eligibility and credential processing, and system integration. We added additional expertise in user design and user experience. We took the time to preserve what worked well in CertMetrics 1.0 while we added all the enhancements and benefits in CertMetrics 2.0. The result is a world-class, enterprise-level solution.   

Q: What does migration look like for existing clients?

A: It depends on the client. Alpine is working with clients on a case-by-case basis to determine their migration point. Clients that use only core functionality can start migration today. When a client is ready for migration, Alpine will set up a CertMetrics 2.0 beta site to allow program owners to receive training and begin tailoring their 2.0 instance. Alpine will work with the client to establish a 2.0 checklist and migration schedule. The 1.0 beta and production sites will remain active through the entire migration process until a client is fully migrated to 2.0.

It is important to note that migrating to 2.0 does not involve data migration. The back-end systems were already updated in 2020. At this point, the migration work is focused on the UI and taking advantage of the new features and benefits.

Q: You’ve mentioned a few times Alpine’s experience with candidate, credentialing, and exam data management. Can you tell us a bit about your Technology Solutions team?

A: I may be biased, but I’m truly amazed by the talent, expertise, and due diligence of our Technology Solutions team. Our Product Owner, Technical Program Managers, Software Architects and Developers, and DevOps are superb! They are the reason for our continued success.

We continue to grow our team by selecting the finest talent with diverse skill sets to complement our team. Our software developers and architects are experts in the field, which makes it possible for us to provide state-of-the-art solutions. 

What is your vision of CertMetrics for the future?

A: We are committed to working in partnership with our clients to provide a platform that programs can rely on well into the future. We’re always looking for ways to be proactive and expand CertMetrics to meet industry requirements and the needs of our clients. As always, our goal is to continue to help programs manage their exam, candidate, and credentialing data in the most efficient way possible; which in turn allows those programs to focus their time building their programs and facilitating successful life-long journeys for their candidates.