Below is a short case study of a company I helped set up a system for the management of their training courses without spending any extra cash.
Situation at the outset
The company used MS Excel spreadsheets to schedule courses, log course participants and add up course fees. Two departments used their own separate spreadsheets. Any auxiliary material, such as attendee lists, name signs, certificates and postal address labels, were created in various MS Word files that were partially templated but required manual entry of the specific course or delegate details.
Administering a course from start to finish was cumbersome because the various files were stored in different folders. Capturing course and delegate details several times across different documents bore the risk of introducing human error at every step.
The two departments did not align their designs for auxiliary documents, which meant that clients attending different courses at the same company potentially received dissimilar forms and certificates. This is not only confusing for the client, but also harmful to brand recognition and professional credibility.
My solution was to centralise the auxiliary material and streamline the administrative process from course scheduling all the way to sending out attendance certificates.
I created a central MS Access database in which staff entered client, course and delegate details. This enabled the following:
- Entry of client, course and delegate details was only required once.
- All auxiliary material was automatically populated and could be printed directly from the database.
- Chargeable course fees were summed up automatically per course and client.
- Alerts were built in to highlight, for example, when a course had not reached the minimum number of attendees.
- Filters were built in, for example, to prevent printing of certificates for no-shows or people who failed the exam.
- Delegate feedback questionnaires were created as interactive electronic forms and for hardcopy printing. Feedback would be transferred from the paper forms into the database by the course administrator to enable automated analysis of scores.
Both departments decided to use this common database to manage their courses.
The main gains were streamlined centralised organisation and the effortless adoption of similarly formatted documents in both departments.
Administrative staff time was saved because using a central database that incorporated all auxiliary documents meant that course and delegate details no longer needed to be entered several times in different locations. Details for returning clients only had to be entered once at the initial set-up and could simply be reused for each new order. This also reduced the risk of typos, copy-paste errors etc.
MS Access is not part of the standard MS Office package. This company had one full license for MS Access. This was used for the design and maintenance of the database. Users, i.e. course administrators, gained access to the database by installing the free downloadable MS Access Runtime.
The feedback sheets are still handed out as hardcopies to course participants. Results must then be logged in the database by the administrator to allow for automated analysis of the ratings. The beauty of this set-up is that it keeps things simple and, once responses have been entered, everything about the course is in one place. However, it may be worth considering online tools such as Coursecheck. Whilst I haven’t tried such tools myself, I understand that they provide feedback analysis. In addition, they showcase testimonials, act as an independent review page and additional marketing tool.