July 1, 2019
Job movement is a simple fact of life these days. Whether forced by the employer or the employee, jobs change far more frequently today than they did even one decade ago. This means that when it comes to something as critical as tracking your continuing education credit, or CPE, one really needs to take matters into their own hands in order to make sure you are never caught without all of the proof you need for your periodic reporting and, yikes, the dreaded CPE audit.
Who “Owns” My CPE?
I have frequently seen the question, “Who owns my CPE?” Is it me? Is it my firm or company? The fact is, this is actually a rather nebulous concept. I doubt anyone has ever gone to court over CPE records, and it probably wouldn’t come to that, but you always want to be fully prepared and knowledgeable when it comes to tracking something as critical as your continuing ad credit.
The fact is, when you are working for a company and using their tracking system for your CPE credits, and you are unceremoniously let go at 4:30 p.m. on a Friday, who has your CPE records? It’s not you. It’s on a company system, and most companies and firms like to cut people immediately out of all system access when they are separated from the company, whether it’s you quitting or a them firing you. So you should establish early on a record keeping system for your own CPE so that you are never “locked out” from your own CPE records.
It’s also a good idea to use an online CPE tracking system that is managed by you in an account owned by you so that your company cannot take it away from you. That way, you always know where your credits are, you can always report on them, and you can access your certificates anytime, anywhere, period.
CPE tracking platforms are gaining in popularity. You can easily search Google for “CPE tracker”, or “CPE monitor”, and come up with a whole host of inexpensive and easy to use solutions. The beauty of these is that you feed them, you care for them, and they belong to you. The best of these platforms make it easy for you to add 3rd party CPE credit via filling out short forms and uploading CPE participation certificates that you would typically get from a live, in-person CPE event, or which would be emailed to you if you took a live CPE webinar.
Many people proudly point to their tracking of CPE in Excel. That is one of the least efficient and riskiest means of tracking your CPE credit. At a minimum, you should be tracking your credits via a Google spreadsheet. This is not because I am a huge fan of Google, but the universal nature of Google sheets, available without paying a penny, backed up on their insane server infrastructure, not your dodgy laptop, and accessible from any web browser globally, makes it particularly adept as a central repository of records. However, what are you going to do with all of those CPE certificates? Google spreadsheets does not have a good facility for attaching those to your tracking spreadsheet. Google Drive does have the ability to create folders and add documents, but you have you are usually left with an unsorted mess of dozens of documents which may span many years, with unknown and unseen records gaps, so it is far from optimal.
In fact, if you were to put your accounting, finance, or risk management “hat” on at work, and if you were to analyze this “document management and record keeping” problem, there is no way you would use Excel or Google, unless you wanted to get fired. That’s garbage and you know it and would never think to mention it to your boss it’s so embarrassing. So, are you really going to use a method that would not pass muster in any company or firm anywhere, anytime due to its lackluster controls and capability? I think the answer here is probably not, and that you should find a more secure and scalable and universal method of managing this to prevent it from being a risky mess and instead turn it into a simple no-brainer.
You want control of every minute of CPE credit that you earn, and you want it the moment you get your certificate for any program you have finished. If you wait, those certificates have a way of getting lost, and then you are in big trouble, searching through old emails, calling CPE providers to have them send you their records, and the like. And let’s face it, in today’s day and age we are also incredibly busy that if this process of recollection happens near the end of the year, who knows what you will remember or forget about we CPE learning you did throughout the year period this is a real risk. Do be that person.