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Are We In Compliance?

Are We In Compliance?

For a number of years, I worked in the training department of a large telecommunications company. As one of our core missions, we handled the training for the large force of technicians. In addition to the various technical topics, we were also asked to care for safety training for that population. That meant that we needed to ensure that all 50,000 technicians who were located across a very large geographic area received the proper subset of 17 safety courses every two years. Needless to say this was a massive job, but it gave me an understanding of many different aspects of training administration that I have carried forward in my career.

At the time, the company was implementing its first corporate learning management system (LMS) and the “interface” was between a centralized group of people who manually entered data and paper training records that came in from the various garages. Self-service was still a distant dream. What became clear early on was that the process used by the garages to track training on paper was a lot more stable than either our system or our processes to get that data into the system. This should not have surprised us; telephone company field service had been doing the same job in roughly the same way for most of the past 100 years.

As you think about your new or prospective LMS, and the need to track training data to meet compliance requirements, the place to start is with your current tracking system and with one simple question: Does it work?

Presumably, the new system will make your life easier, but that will only happen if you have processes in place that care for the requirements of this type of training. Let’s think about some of those so you can see how the system handles the process.

  • Can you build a curriculum of all required training and assign it by job title? This may be obvious, but the last thing we would have wanted to do was register 50,000 students for a training class individually. Job title registration allows curricula to be developed and assigned by broad categories (and I have worked with LMSs that did NOT allow such basic functionality).
  • Can you set a recurrence interval for the training? In our case, safety training needed to be taken every two years. Can you set an expiration data and a due date? Can they be different? In addition to needing to be in compliance, you also do not want your entire workforce out of the office taking training because the system told them to go (or unable to go into the field because their safety training was no longer current).
  • Can you easily generate the reports you will need to track and report your compliance to the satisfaction of the people, policies, and formats you need? Can you edit those report formats without needing programming help?

The definition of compliance training may vary. You may have internal company requirements for training that reflect your individual company philosophy or internal processes. If this is the case, you may be able to work within some relatively flexible guidelines.

Alternately, you may need to meet externally specified requirements set by state or federal regulations, or by some certifying board, such as the ISO, which defines the standards you need to address. There may be some combination of these things that defines what you need to do.

No matter which of these requirements applies to you, when you start to review your LMS candidates or finalists, you should have someone who is close to these company requirements on your project team. Done right, this training can run smoothly, and your company can document compliance easily and appropriately. Done wrong, and the first thing that you discover when you are “done” with your LMS implementation is that you have already generated a need for two different systems (or you get to try to program some last minute workaround).


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