Using Period-Based Curricula to Manage Training Due Dates in SuccessFactors Learning (Part I)

I described the use of Assignment Profiles in SuccessFactors Learning and emphasized the power they can bring to an organization in regards to managing automatic training assignments to employees based on a variety of criteria. Managing assigned training to your employee population is a key feature of any LMS and a challenge for most companies, but getting the appropriate training assigned to employees is only part of the puzzle. Once assigned, you want to make sure employees complete assigned training on-time and, if necessary, are retrained during the appropriate intervals as well. SuccessFactors Learning provides functionality to manage training due dates which, while quite robust, can also be quite confusing at times in understanding the options you have in order to set these dates. In this blog, I will explain the use of Period-Based Curricula in SuccessFactors Learning and how this tool set can be utilized to manage required training dates for your learning users.

Regardless of the use of an LMS to manage your training, there are a few fundamental questions a training administrator should ask himself/herself when establishing a new training to assign to employees within an organization.

  1. If the training is required of users to which it is assigned, how much initial time should be granted to a user to complete the training?
  2. Does the training have a fixed required-by date for all users it is assigned regardless of when it was assigned, or should the required-by date for employees be unique to each assignment?
  3. Does the training require retraining?

For anyone reading this blog who has been involved in managing training assignments for an organization, these questions should sound familiar whether you had an LMS to assist you in your activities or not. Before diving into the details of Period-Based Curricula, let’s ensure we understand exactly what Curricula are in SuccessFactors Learning, what advantages can be seen in using Curricula, and then dive into the functionality of Period-Based Curricula.

Overview of Curricula in SuccessFactors Learning

A Curriculum can be utilized in SuccessFactors Learning to group a set of Items, Requirements, and/or Sub-Curricula for a common purpose. Curriculum can contain any number of Items/Requirements/Sub-Curricula, from one to as many as needed. By grouping these objects in a Curriculum, they can be tracked and reported on as a group. An assigned curriculum for a user can have a status of Incomplete or Complete with respect to the individual status of each Item/Requirement contained within the Curriculum. Various factors can come into play with respect to each individual Item/Requirement as to whether it is considered complete or not, however, I will not be talking about those rules within the scope of this blog.

Each Item/Requirement within a Curriculum can have individual settings specified for period based assignments/retraining (thus the term Period-Based Curricula). For instance, one item may be required to be completed within 30 days of initial assignment, but have no retraining period. Another item in the curriculum may be required to complete within 90 days of hire for a user and then need to be retaken every year for retraining purposes. The point to make here for Period-Based Curricula is each item contained within the Curriculum can have its own periods specified with respect to Initial Assignment and Retraining due dates.

While you can set due dates for items assigned directly to users, there are several benefits of using Curricula in managing required-by dates for items. One key aspect of a curriculum is how it checks the learning history of a user with respect to the items that are contained within the curriculum. Therefore, if a user is assigned an item via a curriculum that he/she has already completed, the curriculum will see this and indicate the item as complete within the curriculum itself. If you were to assign an item to a user directly (outside of a curriculum) that the user had completed previously, the fact that the item is in the user’s learning history will not matter, and the assignment will be incomplete until the user completes the item again. Curriculum are also required for managing retraining dates for users as they complete items that require periodic retraining. To state that again, if an item needs to be tracked for retraining purposes for users, it must be part of a Curriculum in order to do so. You cannot enforce retraining of an item that is assigned directly to a user outside of a curriculum.

Also to note, values for Initial Assignment and Retraining periods can be set for an Item within the Item details. Settings for Initial Assignment for an item will be used by the system to determine initial assignment dates when Items are assigned to users directly or via Assignment Profiles. Settings at the Item level for Retraining periods though will not have any effect on an item that is assigned to a user outside of a Curriculum. Any retraining period settings made at an item level will only be used for default values when adding the item to a Curriculum in regards to the Period-Based settings for the Item within the Curriculum.

SuccessFactors Learning provides two core methods within Period-Based Curricula for calculating training due dates on an Event or Calendar basis. The following sections describe the use of Event and Calendar basis methods for determining training due dates. In the later parts of this blog, I will discuss each method in detail with examples of the calculations in determining training due dates.

Event Basis

Event-Based assignment in SuccessFactors Learning hinges on, you guessed it, an event, or a moment in time. That moment in time can be either the assignment date of the training to a user, or it can be the user’s hire date. With respect to calculating retraining periods, if applicable, the event is the completion date of the training itself. Using the event date as the starting point, SuccessFactors Learning then provides you with the ability to specify a period for calculating the required-by date of the training. As an admin, you can specify a period for the event-based assignment/retraining using days, weeks, months, quarters, or years. SuccessFactors Learning will then calculate the required-by date by completing the current period, then adding the full period specified to the initial retraining assignment. It is this logic that can be confusing as first (the underlined part is the key), and therefore I will talk more about the use of event-based assignments in Part II of this blog.

Calendar Basis

Calendar-Based assignment in SuccessFactors Learning is used in cases where calculated required-by dates for employees should be fixed. In other words, there shouldn’t be any difference in required-by dates for the training with respect to individual employees. All users assigned the training should be required to complete the training by a fixed date.

When using the calendar-based method for determining required by dates, an admin must specify a Basis Date that is used in conjunction with a specified period in order to determine the due date. The period utilized for the calendar-based method can be the same units as discussed previously in the event-based method (days, weeks, months, quarters, or years). For retraining purposes with calendar-based periods, the system will create intervals starting with the specified Basis Date utilizing the defined period. Depending on when the user completes the training with respect to the intervals, the system will determine a new required-by date as needed. Again this concept can be confusing at first. I’ll discuss the use of calendar-based assignments in Part III of this blog.

Deeper Dive into Period-Based Curricula

For the sake of organization, I’ve separated this blog into four parts. Parts II-IV of this blog are meant to provide further details on how assignment/retraining dates can be calculated in Period-Based Curricula with event and calendar-based methods, in addition to a few additional functions that are available to provide further flexibility. Please read-on if you would like further details on these calculations to understand how they can be utilized to meet an organization’s needs in regards to assigning training due dates and tracking retraining dates.

Learn More: 

Part II – Understanding the Event-Based Method of Period-Based Curricula in SuccessFactors Learning
Part III – Understanding the Calendar-Based Method of Period-Based Curricula in SuccessFactors Learning
Part IV – Other Tricks of the Trade for Period-Based Curricula in SuccessFactors Learning