Reporting of in-service training often involves a trade off.
On one side, information is centralized. Generally, reporting from the field is done on paper and fax. It is then re-keyed by the reporting agency. Data corrections are made for any inconsistencies, although new errors can be made. Alternately, there is a central reporting application. To keep the data clean, in-service events are tightly managed and phone calls to the central reporting agency handle exceptions. The benefits of centralization are that the data is very consistent for later searching and there are often checks in place to make sure that compliance requirements have been met. The down sides are that this reporting often takes a long time to complete and there is little provision to deal with the non-conformant training and tracking those things that the Department thinks are important, but the central agency has no interest in.
On the other side, information is decentralized. Reporting is typically done out of spread sheets or Access databases. On the plus side, each department has maximum flexibility in capturing what it wants to report on. Department X can track the roll call training, while Department Y can track CPR. Also, the person storing the data is the most knowledgeable person about the data, reducing the number of errors. On the down side, checking that people are in compliance is done only as well as each department does it. It is very difficult to consolidate at a higher district or state level, because the reporting is in varying formats. Consolidated reporting is non-existent or expensive to create.
This is why the features that demoed this week are so exciting.
- Data is keyed by people in the field and reported to the central agency – keeping the information close to the knowledgeable person, while keeping the keying down to a single time, reducing errors and saving cost
- (New) “Approved” In-Service Events can be locked down in terms of name, dates, training category, hours earned – keeping data consistent for later searching and reporting. ‘First Aid’ at one department will look the same as ‘First Aid’ in another department; compliance searches become easier.
- In-Service Events that do not fit the ‘approved’ mold can still be reported and the central agency can accept, edit or reject them
- (New) A different training category can be reported per person – this means that if there is a desire for the department to track some training that the central agency doesn’t care about, they can categorize it to keep it separate
- Reports can be run like the missed training report to determine who isn’t in compliance
- Individuals with access to the person portal can check that their own record looks correct and they can print transcripts and certifications for training that has those items
This should eliminate the trade offs and bring the best of both worlds.