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March 2016

Montana partners with Solutions Thru Software for online appointment system

When the contract for its antiquated online appointment scheduling system was expiring, the Montana Motor Vehicle Division knew it needed to find a new system that offered more functionality, was more efficient for customers and staff, and was up-to-date technologically. It found a partner in Solutions Thru Software, which provided a new online appointment scheduling system that allows customers to schedule, view, edit or cancel an appointment at driver’s licensing locations statewide.

“We wanted a system that was user-friendly for customers as well as staff, usable from any device, and provided notifications to customers—we really wanted text notification,” says Sky Schaefer, IT project manager, Montana Department of Justice, Motor Vehicle Division. “You can make an appointment for all but two driver’s license services. So, for example, [you can make an appointment] if you want to renew or replace your license, if you’re moving from out of state and need a Montana license, or if you need to take a driving test.”

In order to find a partner in this endeavor, the state put out a request for proposal (RFP) and ultimately chose Solutions Thru Software to execute the solution. “It was interesting because the state has an extremely transparent procurement process, which allowed us to be in attendance at the evaluation,” says Cori Cuthbertson, project manager, Solutions Thru Software.

In order to make the new system a reality, Solutions Thru Software and the state worked closely and cohesively for several months. “There were regular weekly meetings in which we worked together to create the vision the state had for a scheduling system to meet its needs,” Cuthbertson says. “From there we were able to begin creating a public site that allows all DMV locations to schedule appointments for services, and an internal site for DMV staff to access the scheduler system with the screens they require based on access levels.”

“The partnership has been great; we had an in-person kickoff call, met regularly and had open lines of communication,” adds Schaefer.

The successful partnership and diligent work from both Solutions Thru Software and the state resulted in the new scheduling system meeting the state’s goals. “Our staff finds it very easy to use, and it helps manage the number of customers in the office at one time,” Schaefer says. “County treasurers have praised it, even those who weren’t sold on it in the beginning. Our customers also like it. We’ve had really good feedback.”

While developing systems and websites always comes with challenges, the testing, pilot and implementation processes all went smoothly, according to both Schaefer and Cuthbertson. “The main challenge was providing a very intuitive system, usable by non-technical staff and customers, that did not compromise the complex back-end functionality,” Cuthbertson says. “But the pilot date of Oct. 29, 2015, went without a hitch, and staff comments have been very positive.”

Two additional sites were rolled out in December 2015 after the pilot, and the system is now available statewide.