Alpine Testing Solutions (Alpine) is excited to highlight our partnership and integration with Lineup Management Services (Lineup). Lineup offers a cloud-based team and Subject Matter Expert (SME) volunteer management solution that—when integrated with CertMetrics—creates a connected and well-aligned ecosystem for increasing SME participation. Data is appropriately shared among systems to improve the user experience, while decreasing overhead through automation. 

After conducting an exhaustive internal practice analysis in 2012, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) identified the need for a high percentage of key changes to the test, test specifications, and other key programs. It was obvious to the NCARB team that a refreshed pool of SME talent with more diversity and varied opinions was required to adequately address necessary updates. Little did Guillermo Ortiz de Zarate know back then that the critical needs identified for refreshed SME talent would be a catalyst that would later ‘turn a light bulb on’ for him resulting in the development of Lineup.

With use of roughly 400 or more volunteers per year, we were aware that we had a serious problem regarding operational management of our NCARB SME volunteers. Our manual practice of using multiple spreadsheets to track and manage SMEs was inefficient. With the next phase of development requiring a refreshed pool of SME talent that possessed an added level of Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) that we had not recruited for previously, we needed to be very intentional in selecting SME volunteers in terms of diversity and engagement,” explained Ortiz de Zarate. “It was critical for us to have a streamlined and data-driven volunteer appointment process.”

Tool Development, Validation, and Next Steps

The development team went above and beyond to develop an internal tool that streamlined the labor-intensive SME recruitment, data collection, and management processes for NCARB. It made a remarkable difference that bridged the gap between staff and SME volunteers. It also decreased staff effort, allowing more time to focus on supporting SME volunteers, which made a positive impact to their organization overall.   

Ortiz de Zarate was curious if the tool could serve as a valuable solution for other organizations. “I had heard that SME recruitment and management problems were prevalent in the industry but was not aware of any solutions that were being offered. I reached out to Blair Harris and Brian Adams of Alpine and apprised them of the solutions our tool provided. They were very intrigued and it was evident from their feedback, and even their body language, that they immediately saw potential value for organizations in the industry.”  

That promising feedback prompted Ortiz de Zarate to speak with others in the industry to gain a fuller understanding of the challenges that existed with SME management. “I remember attending the Thought Leaders Exchange hosted by Alpine in August 2018. While on a coffee break, I asked a couple of the attendees how they managed their SMEs. They both immediately rolled their eyes and one said, ‘Oh my gosh, it is SUCH a pain!’ The other fellow agreed. I then said, ‘I think I may have a good tool for you to consider!’ Those two experiences with Alpine were pivotal in ‘turning on a light bulb for me’ and motivating me to float the idea to the NCARB Board of Directors to request funding to build an agnostic version of the platform.”

The NCARB board had already seen the positive impact the tool had on NCARB’s program and saw the potential upside for other organizations. They provided full support of the initiative. Ortiz de Zarate and team intentionally designed and built the tool in a very versatile way with flexibility to meet a wide range of domains, talent recruitment, and management needs in the credentialing industry. That is how Lineup began what continues to be a successful and productive journey!

“Lineup has wide applicability as a talent management software company because almost every organization needs teams in order to thrive. We identified multiple segments for our market and recognized that the certification market was the best product fit at this time and opted to target and penetrate that market first,” offered Ortiz de Zarate.

Empowering Other Organizations and Expanding Talent Through the Lens of Teams

As President of Lineup, NCARB’s wholly owned Software-as-a-Services (SaaS) startup, Ortiz de Zarate has assembled a talented team of professionals who are passionate about empowering client organizations using Lineup to successfully utilize resources, streamline processes, and get the best possible return on investment.   

Lineup’s tagline, “build teams, not spreadsheets” represents how their talent management software eliminates tedious, labor-intensive spreadsheets and instead allows for efficient mapping and tracking of SME management. It optimizes programs by giving clear insights into the skills, qualifications, and experience of SME resources. It also provides powerful automation and the ability to track comprehensive team data and profiles of SME volunteers to further promote diversity amongst teams.

“Talent management software typically looks at people individually. But who works alone these days? Almost everyone works in a team or in multiple teams. We designed Lineup to assess abilities not only individually but through the lens of teams. By identifying the KSAs a SME brings to a particular role and how their skill set combines with what other team members bring, it’s possible to identify critical overlaps and create tailor-made teams,” explained Ortiz de Zarate.

Candidate Life Cycle Fuels Lineup’s Integration with CertMetrics

The candidate life cycle comprises several stages that range from being interested in becoming certified, working through initial steps towards credential achievement, and then finally earning the credential. Organizations using CertMetrics, Alpine’s Candidate, Credentialing and Exam Data Management solution, are able to see candidates progress through these stages.   

Candidates who complete all of the requirements for earning the credential are often in a prime position to potentially “graduate” to the role of SME because they have proven themselves by successfully completing specified requirements.

Lineup and Alpine partnered on an integration that is available for organizations that use both the Lineup platform and CertMetrics. Using this integration, programs can select the desired credentials that will qualify a candidate to become a SME.  Candidates who earn any of the selected credentials will be able to opt in to create a Lineup profile. The Lineup-Alpine integration allows Lineup to access certification status for candidates who have opted-in, eliminating the need to rely on self-reported data and allowing programs the opportunity to make data-driven decisions for SME management. The testing program is notified of a candidate’s interest and can then vet the candidate and add to the pool of SMEs. As needed, the program can evaluate the pool of SME resources. From there, they can curate a SME team with the appropriate mix of KSAs for use in test, curriculum, and training development.

There are many benefits of using the Lineup and CertMetrics integration, some of which include:  

  • Connecting candidates through various stages of the life cycle, including earning the credential and allowing them to give back as SME participants
  • Eliminating manual work to decrease human error and maximize the search for new talent
  • Automating the credential validation of potential new SMEs
  • Expanding the reach into needed diversities
  • Having the advantage of smart and secure systems that protect data

The Lineup/Alpine partnership and integration is a win/win for all who benefit from their services. The figurative light bulb that initially turned on for Ortiz de Zarate burns brightly as the Lineup platform in concert with CertMetrics continues to innovatively evolve and bring more SME talent to the table.