Implementing and sustaining incremental credentialing practices requires careful planning and analysis—not least because of the high cost of technology investments and maintenance. Because of this, an institution must look closely at its credential management infrastructure and supporting IT functions, including resource allocation. This analysis is critical in helping an institution leverage its existing systems effectively and pinpoint technology gaps.
IT professionals, registrars, and other key stakeholders should consider the following questions to optimize credential workflows, enhance user satisfaction, ensure data consistency and security, and inform strategic planning. These questions can help institutions make informed decisions and implement effective strategies to meet the evolving needs and expectations of their stakeholders. They also may help identify opportunities for future investment, such as additional staff and the purchase or development of specialized or customized software.
How are credential workflows sequenced and connected to provide the right information to the right person at the right time? (For example: an academic advisor reviewing the competency demonstrations relative to a learner’s career goals.)
How can the IT systems support the needs and preferences of different user groups, such as administrators, faculty, learners, and employers? (Example: A learner gaining access to an integrated dashboard of their skill demonstrations, course progress, program plan, and career goals using information from different IT systems and different departments.)
How can the IT systems facilitate communication and collaboration between different units and stakeholders involved in the credentialing process? (Example: faculty members review the feedback on a student’s learning outcomes—feedback collected across multiple modules, courses, and events.)
How is your institution’s credential information defined, documented, and managed across the organization? What can be done to improve consistency? (Examples: Establish an academic offering policy, implement standardized business processes and procedures, create a centralized data dictionary.)
What credential information needs to be shared across different units and departments? (Examples: Public information about credential offerings such as program descriptions and requirements, personally identifiable information such as learners’ names and contact details, private information such as financial records and disciplinary actions.)
What credential information requires access control and data-privacy protection? (Examples: Determine which officials/departments should have access to a learner’s transcript, implement role-based access controls for sensitive data.)
How can the technology system ensure that credential data are accurate and up to date across the organization? (Examples: Establish systems of record as the authoritative source for credential data, implement unique identifiers and versioning mechanisms to track changes and updates.)
What audit and logging capabilities are needed to track changes and monitor access to credential information? (Examples: Generate operational reports and alerts to track data modifications, establish a comprehensive logging system to review user access and activities.)
What systems and tools should be integrated to effectively manage credential information across the organization (i.e., which systems create new credential information and which supplement)?
How will the IT system authenticate users who need to interact regularly with multiple credential-related tools? (Examples: Implement single sign-on functionality, use federated identity management.)
What standards for data interoperability will be required to exchange information between IT systems and tools—including learning management systems, student information systems, and credential issuing products? (Example: Implement data standards to enable seamless data exchange.)
How will potential data conflicts and discrepancies across IT systems be resolved? (Examples: Assign data stewards responsible for resolving conflicts, establish data quality committees to review and address discrepancies.)
What costs are associated with implementing, supporting, and maintaining an integrated credential management system? (Examples: software licensing fees, hardware infrastructure, training, ongoing technical support.)
What are the potential savings of integrated credential management? (Examples: reduced personnel costs, elimination of redundant applications, decreased costs from manual processes.)
How will an integrated credential management system affect other systems and applications? Are there associated costs or cost savings? (Examples: Initial analysis and integration costs, elimination of duplicate data entry.)
What is the expected return on investment for investing in an integrated credential management system? (Examples: Greater operational efficiency, improved data accuracy, enhanced user experience, increased learner satisfaction, lifetime value for learners.)
What are the expected capacity, transaction rates, and response times for the integrated credential management system?
Which components of the system are susceptible to performance issues, and can they maintain expected service level agreements during peak load (such as during registration or graduation)?
What disaster recovery supports and business continuity plans should be in place for the system? (Examples: Backup and replication mechanisms, off-site data storage, testing recovery processes.)
What metrics should be tracked to evaluate the effectiveness of the system, and how can analytic reports be used to identify critical performance issues? (Examples: Response times, system uptime, query performance, user satisfaction.)
How does the organization systematically review the technologies the system uses to identify risks and opportunities for improvements? (Examples: self-assessments, audits, reviews of best practices, requests for proposals.)