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PGI Friday: Online File Sharing

Is it Friday already?  (Actually, it's only Thursday, but in order for those of you who subscribe to this blog by e-mail to receive this in the early morning hours of Friday, I have to post on Thursday.)

Today's PGI is online file sharing for boards or committees.  Gone are the days when you have to mail a three pound binder to volunteers!!  Gone are the days when a volunteer can say "I didn't get that mailing/e-mail."  Consider getting an online file sharing account so that you can post all board/committee documents in one place.  Yes, I know that some folks still prefer to get printed copies of certain documents.  That's fine, but even so, an online file sharing account has benefits:

  • You can post documents that volunteers often need to reference, such as policies, expense report forms (hopefully electronic ones, right?!) so that they are always accessible when they need them.
  • You can post minutes, committee reports, etc. so that volunteers don't feel the need to keep a paper file and so that new volunteers can review the history.
  • You can post draft documents for group review and comment.
  • Volunteers can view the documents anywhere they have Internet access, or they can download the documents to their laptops or memory sticks to read while traveling.
  • Folders are password protected for access only by those designated.

The features and pricing vary, but here are a couple of services that offer basic services for minimal cost (I've used both, and am currently using xdrive which also lets me back up my files to the Web):

If you use and would recommend another service, please use the comment feature and let everyone else know about it.

Bonus PGI: Electronic Expense Reports

This is a bonus, but I wanted to post it before I got distracted and forgot about it!

I now have three clients that have moved to using Excel worksheet expense reports.   After each meeting, they e-mail the worksheet document to individuals, prepopulated with the meeting information.  Individuals enter their expenses and the amounts are automatically calculated; they then e-mail the document back to the association (and mail original receipts if needed).  This is a great idea for several reasons:

  • It's easy for individuals to use.
  • It virtually eliminates calculation errors.
  • It saves trees since no paper is involved (unless you require original receipts).

As a user of the process, I can say it's quite an improvement over the old paper forms.

PGI Friday: Using Online Communities for Research

It's time for our second installment of PGI Friday - time for more potentially great ideas!  First, I'll start out with a not-so-great one:  don't let your little easter bunnies (in my case, 3 and 6 year olds) put chocolate eggs in your purse.  I learned today that it makes for an embarrasing moment when you reach for your wallet at the store and present a handful of melted goop (it's almost 90 degrees here today).  It didn't do much for my keys and cell phone either.

Now for a potentially GREAT idea on how to  solicit feedback from stakeholders during a practice audit (or any other research project, for that matter).  A survey usually works well to gather feedback on knowledge and skills from the target group; they'll respond because they have a strong interest in the program.  However, it's sometimes challenging to get feedback from stakeholders such as supervisors or employers of your certificants. 

First, I should explain why you would want to get their feedback at all.  At minimum, a practice audit (or job analysis) gathers feedback from the target population of a certification program to determine the knowledge and skills needed in practice (and therefore the knowledge and skills to be assessed).  These individuals can tell you what they actually do in practice.  It's also beneficial to gather feedback from a supervisor or employer perspective because they can tell you what knowledge and skills are currently needed, but lacking and/or those that will be needed in the future for successful practice.  This future-oriented perspective can help the credentialing agency plan for the future practice needs. 

Now, back to the PGI on how to solicit that feedback.  The Commission on Dietetic Registration recently used online communities for this purpose.  A facilitator posted discussion items and the employers participated in a "discussion" by posting their thoughts.  Participants could respond to another comment or post an original thought just as they could in a live discussion.  I was skeptical at first .  Based on my experience in online communities, I was concerned about limited engagement.  But CDR addressed this issue by paying participants and requiring certain participation elements (minimum amount of posts within certain timeframes).  CDR was very pleased with the participation and ultimate valuable feedback gained.  Previously, CDR has used focus groups - which can be expensive due to the travel costs and also present a challenge in getting stakeholders to give a full day plus for travel and participation.  Kudos to CDR and Dick Rogers, Jr. of Readex for deploying this unique strategy.

PGI Friday: Certification Marketing

Welcome to the first PGI Friday post!  Every Friday we'll be posting potentially great ideas (PGIs) for you to consider.  (Note that if you read this blog by RSS or on the Website, you'll get the ideas a day early!)  Our first set includes ideas for marketing certification. 

Here's a unique idea I love.  The Institute of Internal Auditors reviews job classified ads and sends letters to companies not requiring / desiring the credential in their job listings.  They use their local affiliates to carry this out for them - which is a great way to involve affiliates. 

Don't assume certificants know how to promote themselves and their credentials.  The Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation has a brochure for certificants enttitle "Making Your Credential Work for You" 

Also don't assume chapters know how to or have the time to promote certification.  The Human Resource Certification Institute provides a guide to help chapters promote certification. 

For start-up programs, it's important to get leadership and high-profile members to become certified.  As an innovative strategy, the HRCI has a "Pay-if-you-pass policy" for association leaders.  htttp:// 

Key to a successful certification program is showing the value to stakeholder groups.  The AALNC targets one of their stakeholder groups with a brochure promoting the value of its certification.

If your organization has deployed innovative and successful certification marketing strategies, share your ideas with colleagues by commenting on this post..or e-mail me your ideas at [email protected] and I'll post for you.

PGI Fridays

In an effort to add more value to this blog (and admittedly encourage myself to post more often), I'm planning a few regular features.  The first is PGI Fridays (PGI = Potentially Great Ideas).  Every Friday I'll be posting a list of potentially great ideas related to association knowledge and credentialing.  The "potential" part is important because what is a great idea for one organization may be a horrible idea for another.  I hope you'll find there's value in hearing new ideas that have worked for others, but that you'll also take time to consider why the ideas will or will not work for your organization.

Stay tuned for PGI Fridays starting this Friday - the PGIs will be related to certification marketing.