Thursday, 29 March 2012

Key Steps to Building a Certification Program: Determine the Feasibility

Determining the feasibility of the certification program is an essential element to ensuring a successful program. Key considerations include identifying underlying assumptions, the application fee, and the projected revenues and expenses.

Underlying assumptions:
An assumption is an educated guess that sets the foundations for projections. When developing a certification program, the underlying assumptions should be as comprehensive as possible. Impacting factors may include the fee charged to candidates; candidate volume; the anticipated level of funding; the required level of staffing; marketing expenses; types of assessments utilized; the examination delivery system; and professional fees. Along with these considerations, it follows that a careful understanding of the business performance of the organization is required.

Application:
When establishing certification fees to be charged to candidates, the certifying organization needs to consider market demand for the credential as well the target candidates’ salary. The fees charged to candidates and organizations may have a strong impact on the success of the program. If the fee is too high, it may limit program accessibility; if it is too low, candidates may question its value. The fees charged to individuals for initial certification range, but the majority is less than $500, and for recertification, the fee is generally less than $250 (Knapp & Associates, 2007).

Revenue and expenses:
The certification body needs to assess its capacity to develop the program initially but, most importantly, to sustain it over time. In order to accomplish this, it needs to identify human resources requirements, ensure the availability of qualified individuals (e.g., program managers, core team administrative staff, psychometric experts, committee members) as well as establish a budget taking into consideration initial program development costs (e.g., policy development, design of forms, software purchase), recurring program maintenance costs (e.g., exam administration, review of assessment instruments) and associated liabilities. When establishing the financial viability of the program, one also needs to consider the model selected (e.g., government- or industry-subsidized, cost recovery through application fees or revenue generating) as well as the short- and long-term candidate projections. A common error is to underestimate the true costs of the program. It is essential to be prepared to present various scenarios and options to the board overseeing the project.

This post is based on content from 'ABC's of Certification' by Human Resource Systems Group, Ltd.

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