I am starting a new series of blogs outlining LMS best practices. The blog series will offer my perspective on different ways an LMS can solve training problems. This series may offer gold nugget ideas on how your LMS can be adapted or essential features you should ask for in your next LMS. In this blog post, we’ll delve into various scenarios of expiring training and explore why having multiple ways to manage expiry is crucial for an effective LMS.
One common scenario involves training that expires a certain number of days from completion. This approach ensures that employees stay current with the latest information, particularly relevant in industries where regulations and best practices frequently evolve.
For example, training on “Anti-Harassment Training” is needed every 365 days from completion for most organizations in the USA.
Yearly Expiry with Grace Period
Some organizations prefer an annual expiry model but with a twist. Training may officially expire at the end of the year, but participants completing it within a defined grace period (e.g., 30 days before year-end) qualify not only for the current year but also for the subsequent year. This strategy optimizes efficiency and minimizes redundancy.
For example, consider an annual training that is always due by the end of the year. It does not matter when they take the training in the current year, it expires at the end of the year. It can be rather inefficient though if someone takes the training in December, and then has to take the training again the next year. So if the system supports a completion grace period of say 30 days before the end of the year, the training is marked as compliant for the user for the current year and all of the next year.
Qualification Period Alignment
Certain training is pegged to a qualification period, meaning it must be completed within the effective dates of that period. This approach is common in scenarios where compliance or certification aligns with specific business cycles or industry regulations.
Let’s consider cybersecurity as an example. There are only a dozen or so topics of training that are end-user-related. It is not a common practice to have the user complete all topics in one year, and each year to emphasize different topics, but after a while the topics rotate. 3 years ago you might have offered training on Malware, and this year you want to have users go through malware. If the LMS is any good, it will detect the user has previously completed the training and link to the completion 3 years ago. With qualification periods, it does not matter if they took the training previously, it only matters if they took the training within the effective dates of the defined qualification period.
Initial and Annual Refresher Training
In many industries, employees undergo initial training, followed by periodic refresher or annual training. This approach ensures that individuals reinforce their knowledge and stay current with any updates. Without a systematic method, keeping track of who needs what can become a logistical nightmare.
For example, someone certified in CPR has to complete a lengthy training course, and to keep their certification, they have to do a refresher course. The certification has an initial training requirement and a separate annual requirement to keep the certificate valid. You can expand this concept from a series of courses for an initial certification to a small set of courses for a recertification. Recertification might not be annual but every two or three years. The LMS needs to serve up the right training based on which use case applies to the user, sadly a concept not found in most modern LMS systems.
Certain roles within an organization may require specific training that aligns with their responsibilities. Managing role-based expirations ensures that individuals in critical positions maintain the requisite knowledge and skills. This approach is essential for compliance and risk mitigation.
Consider training for one audience that expires every 365 days from completion, for another audience every 3 years from expirations, and for a third audience, it never expires. Audience is a role assigned to a user, and you end up with some problems to solve. How can a course have different expirations for different roles, and how do you manage a user who might be assigned different roles? This is way outside the scope of most LMS systems, and those LMS systems that lack good design might impose the course be triplicated in the LMS to cover expiry, manual manipulation of data, or ignored as too much of an ask. In a well-architected LMS, this is trivial.
Version Based – Dual Expiry
Certain industries including but not limited to Manufacturing, Aerospace, Life Science, and Defence, will train workers on standard operating procedures. When the version is revised they need to be retrained on the new version. When this happens, the current training expires based on the effective date of the new version and users need to retrain to the new version immediately or after a grace period. Oftentimes, they have to retrain on the current procedure that has not been revised to comply with company standards. The user retrains if a major revision occurs or retrains to refresh knowledge on the current SOP.
Adhoc Variable Expiry
A variation of year-end training is training that expires all at the same time, to be refreshed with an updated course. Let’s say all training expires for the topic at hand on August 31st. What if the refresher training is not available for September 1st and will not be available until October 1st? The LMS should allow for the expiry of the course to be extended to September 30th to demonstrate compliance.
The absence of a flexible expiry management system within an LMS poses several challenges. First and foremost, organizations risk non-compliance, facing potential legal consequences or operational disruptions. An inflexible system might result in unnecessary training redundancies, leading to decreased employee engagement and increased costs. Most LMS systems do not support the concepts mentioned, which means either expensive customization or complex labor-intensive workarounds if you have the training tracking and management need.
Phil Baruch is a seasoned 25+ year veteran in the Learning Management Systems (LMS) industry and is a principal partner at MaxIT Corporation. As a thought leader and innovator, Phil has consistently demonstrated a deep understanding of the dynamic landscape of educational technology, steering organizations toward effective LMS solutions tailored to their unique needs with his wealth of experience and forward-thinking approach. His extensive expertise has not only solidified his reputation as a trusted authority in the field but has also positioned him as a driving force behind the continuous improvement and innovation within the LMS industry. Phil Baruch’s dedication to advancing learning technologies underscores his commitment to fostering enhanced educational experiences and workplace training methodologies. His company website is www.maxit.com where you can learn more about his work and services.