Today, credential providers rely on technology and data to support almost every role and function. Well-designed integrated credential management systems use technology to support the full life cycle of credential offerings—from design and development of the credential to verifying its issuance and supporting the post-graduation pathways of recipients. Such systems manage a variety of operations, including:
- Conducting academic program reviews and documenting approvals.
- Creating catalogs and marketing materials.
- Processing learners’ applications.
- Managing scheduling and enrollment.
- Managing finances and billing.
- Tracking individual learners’ progress.
- Providing counseling and advising.
- Conducting audits.
- Issuing credentials.
- Managing learners’ transcripts.
- Facilitating communications about graduation.
- Generating internal and external reports.
To support these operations, many credential providers rely on a variety of information technology (IT) systems and applications. Some of the most common systems used to manage credential information are:
- Student Information Systems (SIS): Platforms used to store and manage learner data, including enrollment, academic records, and personal information.
- Learning Management Systems (LMS): Platforms that facilitate online learning and course management, enabling institutions to deliver educational content, track learner progress, and assess performance.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems: Systems that help institutions manage interactions with current and prospective learners and other stakeholders, including tracking communication, managing inquiries, and supporting enrollment processes.
- Document Management Systems: Systems that provide a centralized repository for storing and organizing credential-related documents, such as transcripts, certificates, and other supporting materials.
- Financial Management Systems: Systems that handle financial transactions related to credential offerings, including billing, payment processing, and financial reporting.
- Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS): Platforms that support employee management, including credential-related roles such as faculty and administrative staff.
- Reporting and Analytics Tools: Tools that enable institutions to track student performance, generate insights from credential data, and make informed decisions.
- Collaboration and Content Management System (CMS) Tools: Tools that facilitate communication among stakeholders involved in the credentialing process. These tools include websites, resources, email, messaging platforms, and project management software.
By leveraging these IT systems effectively and ensuring their seamless integration, institutions can streamline credential management processes, enhance data accuracy, and improve their operational efficiency. Institutions are free to choose applications that best align with their specific needs and user requirements. However, this freedom of choice can present challenges as different applications may not easily exchange information. While data standards have helped mitigate some compatibility issues, each institution must ensure that its IT system adequately supports its unique requirements.
As the landscape evolves to include microcredentials, badges, and other new forms of credentials, the task of managing this information becomes more complex. This complexity becomes particularly challenging when new credentials are not fully supported by core IT systems. Institutions face a difficult task in effectively managing an array of diffuse credential information across multiple IT systems and applications.