Saturday, March 7, 2015

Accreditation—is it really necessary?

By Steven M. Worth, President at Plexus Consulting Group, LLC

Credentialing programs can provide a foundation through which an association can brand itself in an industry—among members and non-members as well as companies that operate in related industries. Recently, Plexus Consulting Group sat down with one of its senior advisors and resident experts on developing accreditation programs, Dr. Sharon Goldsmith, to learn about the benefits of providing an accreditation program. Dr. Goldsmith gave us her first-hand experience on how credentialing programs can be beneficial to an organization.

“Accreditation always improves the quality of what an organization does.” She told us that at the conclusion of her engagements developing credentialing programs with organizations, organizations always indicate these programs help them as a marketing tool, but in the end it really has made them a better organization.

“The main thing is that credentialing programs can be the biggest source of revenue for the organization,” according to Dr. Goldsmith. She defines credentialing as “…a way to run a particular facility. It helps raise the level of quality in an industry by defining the competence of the company.” With credentialing, a company can provide high quality services to its customers without reservation. “It has a public good aspect in that it help individuals and organizations improve themselves.” Through accreditation programs, organizations and individuals can gain the necessary skills they need to become an industry expert. Having an industry-related accreditation “…helps the public make informed decisions on the legitimacy of the professionals.” Dr. Goldsmith points out that even in daily life consumers want to know they are being helped by experts they can trust. “For example, when trying to pick the best physician to go to, which plumber to hire, or other service choices, consumers want to know they can rely on the professional they choose.”

The programs that organizations have implemented take hard work and dedication to become successful. What steps are necessary in order to build a successful credentialing program? “The first thing they have to do is determine if their stakeholders want this what will make it a more valuable program, what will make it a less valuable program?” Dr. Goldsmith enforced that marketing research was the key aspect of creating a successful program. “Marketing, marketing, marketing! With a detailed feasibility study the organization can establish whether or not this is what people want.” Dr. Goldsmith told us that many organizations tend to make the mistake of initiating a program and working out all the details, only later to discover there is a lack of interest. Marketing the idea and conducting surveys to see if a program will be advantageous to an organization can avoid an inefficient use of company resources.

Individuals, as much as organizations, can gain much by obtaining an industry certification. It works as a resume builder, “serving as third party recognition.” Currently, many companies require certification for employees they hire or promote. Dr. Goldsmith says that “certification can help an individual getting a job or trying to advance in their career.” To determine which certifications are the most beneficial to career advancement, one should begin by speaking to potential employers in one’s chosen field and understanding what criteria an employer looks for in a successful candidate. This will eliminate the accreditation programs that are not a match to an employer’s needs and will narrow the job seeker’s search for accreditation programs.

With recent growth in the “green” industry, Dr. Goldsmith indicated there were new certifications and accreditations related to the environment and creation of new jobs and a green workforce. “There are hundreds of them, literally hundreds, that are being created for organizations- from people that are manufacturing materials, homes (construction), trade and green buildings.” Most programs are related to carbon emission. The “green” industry is a rapidly growing sector in the workforce, and Dr. Goldsmith points out that being a new field, these accreditations need to go through lengthy research to verify their legitimacy. “In the end, because of the new industry many artificial credentials are popping up,” says Dr. Goldsmith.

Credentialing is increasingly becoming a necessity in today’s workforce in order to differentiate oneself from the rest of the market. Dr. Goldsmith gave first-hand knowledge of how to create a program for your organization or determining which accreditation programs are the right ones for individual professional development. “It demonstrates that this person has the specific skills to do a job.”

No comments: