Chances are, you’re here because you are looking for solutions to keep your ever-growing pile of employee certifications, licenses and training neatly organized for record-keeping purposes. No easy task. If you’re not here for that reason, there’s probably something new you can learn in this post. Tracking certifications, licenses, training, etc can become a really messy undertaking if you do not start with a good foundation of why you’re tracking anything, what is the goal of tracking, who will see the tracked information, and how exactly to begin.
Step 1: Determine Why You’re Tracking Anything
Once you figure out exactly why you are tracking any individual thing, it will become much more clear how you would like to organize information. To give a few examples:
- Are you tracking training to determine whether or not someone is well-equipped for the job they are about to do? In this example it would be important to understand what trainings and individual has successfully completed. Keeping track of their grades, the date they officially passed a training, and any expiration on training would be important.
- Are you tracking certifications, licenses or CEU (continuing education units) that will need to be submitted to a regulatory agency? If you currently work in an industry that is highly regulated and controls the types of education necessary to work - it is important to understand those regulations. As with the example above, it will be necessary to track dates of initial licensure, scores, expirations, and any additional information required by the regulatory agency. Another note worth mentioning is the way that this information is stored and transmitted. Pay attention to highly sensitive information and who will have access to that information which will help determine how you plan to track this information.
- Are you tracking information for advancements, bonuses, or pay increases? This could easily tie into whether or not someone is equipped for a job, as discussed above, but it is important to consider what parts of training, certifications, or licenses are required to earn a bonus or advancement. It might be wise to also have a set of standards so that what you track can be matched with what the expectations are for easier analysis and potential created shortcuts in terms of reporting.
While this is not an exhaustive list of reasons why are beginning to track any information, it touches on a few of the key reasons we see people looking for some sort of certification tracking software to organize their information. Once you have determined why you are tracking anything - it’s easy to then move on to setting goals for the tracked information.
Step 2: Set Goals for Tracking Information
This portion of tracking anything can really help to solidify what direction is necessary to take your files or adopt some sort of software to aid in the process. What are your goals for tracking any information?
Are you looking for better compliance? Perhaps your company or organization has suffered from fines in the past for non-compliance of certain standards.
Are you looking to hold employees accountable? This is usually the case when implementing a new training program. As the program matures, there is more information to monitor and track, as well as when the organization scales in terms of size - accountability can fall by the wayside if there is not enough oversight.
Setting goals, whether it’s number of licenses held by the organization, lack of overdue certifications, average number of certifications held by employees, or one of the other myriad of goals that can be set will help set the tone of the importance of what you’re tracking and can even be used in gamification, which ultimately can create an intense culture of buy-in from employees to continue training.
Step 3: Determine Who has Access to the Information
In elementary school, when learning times tables, I remember my teacher had cut out brown triangles to look like ice cream cones and wrote the names of all 25 students in 25 separate cones. Then as we moved through each series of times tables, 1x’s, 2x’s, 3x’s, all the way through to the 12x’s and ultimately the Mad Minute, we would get to put another scoop of ice cream on our cone. Once you finished, you had a 13-scoop ice cream cone, any ice-cream lover’s dream. The point of this story is to say, this public display of information was used to motivate kids that were either driven to win and be the first to the 13-scoop, sugar mountain, that was their cone, or to show kids that may not be performing as well where they stood in relation to their peers. Without getting into the psychology of what my teacher was working to do, or any personal opinions on how to raise kids or instill confidence - determining who has access to information as it relates to job performance is important.
In some cases, it may be appropriate to turn certification tracking into a competition with rewards, in which case - that information should be viewed publicly or at least in a portal to be viewed by the company masses. In the case of tracking sensitive medical information, obviously, ensuring that only the necessary people have access to the information is an absolute must. Of course there could be instances where some information is to be kept private, and others still public - in which case, it is important to have different systems in place to ensure no breach of privacy.
Step 4: How to Begin
Now that you have done the planning work of who will have access to the information, what information is to be tracked, and what the ultimate goal of tracking anything is - now to begin.
Determining what type of organizational solution is best will help aid in how to begin. If you are a relatively small company, with little to track - Excel or some spreadsheet solution may be the answer. If you are working with highly sensitive information, or require exhaustive reports to be pulled frequently, a software solution could be your best bet. Working through the first three steps of this article will help determine which solution will work best.
Next - beginning. Once you have settled on a solution, compiling all the information that is important is key. This will probably be the most frustrating part of the whole process, but also it heavily depends on how the information was collected before. Are you moving from filing cabinets to excel? Excel to a web-based solution? Rest assured, you will feel better once you ultimately make the switch to something that is more organized and has the option to scale as you grow.
In this phase, we would recommend that you air on the side of collecting more information than you need. While it may be more of a pain in the beginning, as you have less information to add and update, then it will save you from the pain of realizing that you need more information than you have access to anymore.
Last tip: figure out how you are going to analyze the information that you have present. This will help point you in the direction of what information to keep and what to do away with. Are you looking for expiration dates? For total number of certifications? For number of trainings left before eligible for a pay increase? Essentially the goal that you have in mind from above - but in a digestible format to understand what information is important in achieving that goal. This will also take into account what information will be important in the future based on the long-term roadmap of the company.
These are the four steps to get your tracking up and running and will hopefully pave the way for successful implementation of a new organizational solution. While there are more steps to be completed, these are the most important steps to take into consideration to save yourself the headache of re-evaluating solutions in the end if you realize it doesn’t offer all the features that you need, isn’t scalable, or you weren’t even tracking the important stuff from the beginning. We hope you find this useful to steer you in the right direction when you are just starting out and happy tracking!