When we think about recertification, tracking CE activities inevitably comes to mind. How many hours or credits should be required? What kinds are acceptable? Certification boards may require certificants to track and submit their CE, but who manages the CE? The individual? The board? Some boards might be cautious about owning that role, believing that CE is best handled only when the activity is reviewed.
The truth is that these organizations are already doing CE management. It’s just happening after a course or other activity is submitted, not before. It takes the form of audits, rejections, and exceptions, all of which the board staff must perform. And if a board requires, for example, 30 hours of CE for each recertification cycle and has 1,000 certificants recertifying in a given year, that can mean upwards of 30,000 submissions to review. Redundancies may abound, especially if many of the certificants submit many of the same activities. When staff evaluate CE after the fact, the stakes are high for the practitioners, especially when maintaining certification is a condition of employment.
When it comes to CE management, a better way is possible. But where to begin? Even with virtually no infrastructure in place, there are small steps any organization can take toward implementing CE management solutions:
Defining Standards for CE Management
In terms of ongoing continuing education, most boards already have specific written or broadly understood standards for what is acceptable. From there, defining standards for CE management can be as simple as identifying what education providers in the certification ecosystem are offering relevant training and the profession moving forward — both in terms of hands-on training and the evolving exam blueprint. Who is already providing CE, and is it free? For some industries, it may be manufacturers of the equipment needed for certificants to practice professionally. For others, it may be large-scale employers, and for others, more niche third-party providers.
Inviting Participation from Existing Education Providers
Many certification boards are associated with membership organizations that host conferences and other educational offerings. In these cases, the membership organization is likely a primary provider of the board’s accepted CE activities. When considering a more formal CE management program, these existing relationships are a perfect place to start.
If a board can secure participation from its affiliated membership society, it immediately demonstrates value, both to the certificant and to the member organization. And in doing so, sets the stage for other providers to want the same visibility that becoming an “approved provider” would give them.
Demonstrating the Value of an Approved Provider Program
Once a board decides to invest in CE management, the value of an approved provider program becomes easy to demonstrate across a certification ecosystem.
On the organization side, provider attendance uploads and automatic activity approvals will significantly reduce board staff resource spend. Imagine if your membership association became an approved provider, and immediately half or more of those 30,000 CE submissions were suddenly submitted and approved automatically. Not a bad beginning!
For certificants, clear guidelines around approved CE content make it easier to fulfill their recertification requirements. No longer will they need to keep and transfer their collection of CE receipts. Instead of needing to spend time (and potentially money) “figuring it out,” they’ll be able to select within a range of pre-approved options that work for their schedule and needs.
Providers, in turn, will want to be included among those options. Pre-approval and attendance upload capabilities give approved providers a competitive edge that can be advertised to certificants. Take the membership organization example: If certificants know that an annual conference will automatically be counted toward that cycle’s CE requirements, then they will make the effort to consistently attend. The membership organization can rely on that recurring revenue.
When it Comes to CE Management, Platform Matters
To make these program steps possible, a board must also be able to move forward with the corresponding technical steps. These may include launching an approved provider application, creating a searchable database of approved activities, and training providers to upload attendance.
To implement CE management without complicated customization, starting with the right certification software is paramount. For example, can you configure a provider application process or a course approval process in your system? Can you associate courses by domain so that your catalog is searchable by relevant interest area? Can you automatically update records and send notifications? Does your system allow providers to upload course attendance rosters? Can it go beyond the basics, and incorporate reflective practice exercises for quality assurance programs?
LearningBuilder: Software for CE Management Solutions
At Heuristics, we’re here to make it easy to enrich your certification ecosystem. Not only does our LearningBuilder software have the built-in tools to set up an approved provider and approved course process, but it also empowers each organization to design custom rubrics, policies, and processes without custom programming. We can also enable automatic attendance upload for streamlined CE tracking! If you’re interested in what LearningBuilder can do for your CE management — or any of your certification processes — schedule a call with us to find out if our certification software solutions are a fit for your program goals.