Streamlining Professional Learning with SUNY New Paltz
Anneliese Kniffin-Savchak joined SUNY New Paltz in 2013 to work in the Organizational Development and Training office of Human Resources, Diversity & Inclusion. Coming from the corporate world, Anneliese was accustomed to digital systems, but in 2013, SUNY New Paltz (like most colleges and universities) was using Excel spreadsheets to track professional development and training activities. Anneliese and her colleagues began implementing new training programs, and quickly realized that the tracking process was too complex.
“Every time we added a course, we would add a column to the spreadsheet and indicate who had taken the course, and every year we’d build a new spreadsheet” said Anneliese. “We were able to keep track of things and could pull reports with VLOOKUP, but it wasn’t optimal. Having employees sign up for courses through a separate registration site and then exporting them to the spreadsheet was very manual and time-consuming. When we started launching more development programs that went beyond compliance training, we knew we needed to update our processes.”
In 2021, Anneliese’s team launched a digitized system to simplify all of these processes: PeopleAdmin’s Professional Development and Learning. The rollout of the program across campus has been slow, since Anneliese is one of a two-person training office. “We build all of our own trainings,” says Anneliese. “We have a number of compliance trainings that are required by the state as well, so we’ve been slowly rolling them out one by one on our new training website.” PeopleAdmin’s tool allows institutions to create their own trainings as well as pull external modules, and that flexibility is helpful for HR teams who do a little bit of everything.
Anneliese launched compliance training for this year in early March, and in order to make sure everyone completes it, she registered each employee herself. They were all sent notifications with prompts to log into the system to complete the course. Since the compliance trainings are state-required, it’s important for SUNY New Paltz to be able to report on who has completed each course. This prompted Anneliese’s team to put in a special request so they can quickly pull a report on who has not completed a training course to report out to the state.
One thing Anneliese has appreciated about Professional Development and Learning is the course history. “Having a transcript for those who want a certificate has been really nice,” says Anneliese. “During COVID, our university did a mammoth amount of training and my team kept detailed lists of everything. When we launched the system, I entered everything from my records so that employees would have their training histories going back years. It’s great that they can look at it on their own without putting in a request to our office.”
After working with Professional Development and Learning for a few years, Anneliese had a tip for other PeopleAdmin customers. “If it’s possible to have your HR system sync up with Professional Development and learning—do it!” says Anneliese. “Having a back and forth feed would be fabulous. Because of state restrictions, SUNY New Paltz can’t link our HRIS to other systems, so that’s been an extra step for us. If your institution has that same restriction, there are some best practices. First, make sure you enter new hires into the professional development system right away so they have access to compliance trainings. I also recommend doing a quarterly clean up to make sure that all employee information is accurate and up-to-date.”