Her toes were in the sand.
A piña colada was in her hand.
And Lauren wasn’t worried about a thing.
This was the vacation she had needed — a complete break from tech troubleshooting, exam proctoring and certification grading.
Everything was going great until a blaring car alarm began to overpower the sound of the ocean waves. The noise became louder until Lauren opened her eyes and realized it was her cell phone.
She reached for the phone, looked at the clock and rolled her eyes as she read the time: It was 2 a.m. Her husband woke up and gave her that familiar look that said, “Is this seriously happening again? Please quit, and find a new job, so I can get some sleep.”
Lauren managed the certification program for a growing SaaS provider that had recently launched its first performance-based certification program. This was the third time this week she had awoken to a call from a test-taker halfway around the world.
Clearly, something needed to change. Ironically, Lauren had been the new certification program’s biggest advocate.
Her and her colleague Edward worked hard to convince other team members that PBA was the best way for the organization to gain credibility, increase enterprise sales and provide superior training to channel-partners. The duo pointed to forward-thinking tech leaders like Google, SUSE and Chef to make their case.
While Lauren knew building the performance-based assessment itself would be time-consuming — it took about 6-months of back-and-forth collaboration with internal subject matter experts and external developers — she underestimated the amount of hands-on work that would be required post-launch.
4 Components of Managing Performance-Based Certification Programs
Once the exam itself was created, the program required ongoing maintenance in four categories:
1. Registration/Scheduling: While Lauren’s team had done a decent job of automating the registration process, it wasn’t without its problems. For example, applicants would sometimes mistakenly schedule an undesirable exam date and need to rectify it; other times confirmation emails would get lost in SPAM folders; and invariably refunds needed to be issued from time to time
2. Proctoring: Each exam issued required a remote proctor to ensure test-takers were behaving in an ethical manner. Unfortunately, the proctoring vendor that Lauren found had little to no experience in monitoring performance-based assessment; their proctors were only experienced with multiple choice exams. This rendered the traditional proctoring protocol they typically followed obsolete. Additionally, Lauren’s proctors faced a steep learning curve in understanding how to troubleshoot issues with her company’s software solution. This translated into cancelled exams, more refunds to process and Lauren troubleshooting technical issues with her company’s software day and night. No wonder her husband wanted her to get a new job.
3. Delivery: Of all the categories, this one proved to be the most challenging for Lauren. Though her outsourced developers did an excellent job of building the actual performance-based assessment, the platform itself was surprisingly slow. The more users that logged on to take the exam in different countries, the more latency issues appeared. This inconvenience translated into incomplete exams, inaccurate final grades and some refund requests. Though most test-takers were gracious about such slowdowns, Lauren wondered how the issue would affect the program’s long-term credibility.
4. Grading: Since the organization didn’t have the resources to automate the exam grading process, Lauren was stuck manually grading each test that came in. Unfortunately, this put the certification manager in a catch-22: She wanted to implement marketing strategies and develop new exams to scale the certification program, but she also couldn’t grow too fast.
All that to say, what, initially, appeared to be an automated performance-based assessment system required constant management. Lauren was struggling with a common problem: How can we scale our certification program without breaking the bank? Unfortunately, her company couldn’t afford to hire an additional team member to share the workload. Luckily for the certification manager, she happened to sit next to Michael, TrueAbility’s most enthusiastic sales rep, at the Association of Test Publishers Innovations in Testing conference.
After Lauren told Michael about her 2 a.m. phone calls, he asked if her company had ever considered partnering with performance-based assessment platform provider like TrueAbility.
“Not only do we build performance-based assessments from scratch, but we also support companies with 24/7 dedicated tech support, advanced proctoring, latency-free global delivery and automated grading,” Michael said.
In essence, TrueAbility could take over the operational parts of Lauren’s job so she could focus on what she really wanted to be doing: Introducing the company’s already successful performance-based certification into new regions and creating new certification exams.
In next week’s article, we’ll share exactly how TrueAbility stepped in to organize, streamline and level-up Lauren’s performance-based assessment program. We’ll also reveal why the partnership proved more affordable than her company initially thought it would be.
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