Professional associations and colleges often require members to maintain continuing education points (CEPs) throughout their career to ensure that they remain current in their knowledge and are aware of technological, practical, and scientific advancements in their industry. To avoid losing their professional designation, members are required to earn a certain number of points during a certain time period and must also report these activities to their regulatory body or college. These entries are then audited by someone like me, their association coordinator. Preparing for the membership CEP audit process can be simplified and made more efficient by incorporating the tips below.
One: Membership Awareness
Members must be made aware of the expectations of the college in regard to fulfilling CEP requirements and the consequences of failing to meet this requirement from the outset of their membership. This can be done by including a detailed document about CEPs in the package that members receive upon becoming certified in their profession. The key to ensuring that members keep up with their continuing education is by sending quarterly or biannual email reminders and by posting notices on any and all platforms owned by the college such as a website or in a journal. Information that should be sent out regularly should include a reminder of the number of CEPs required, possible upcoming opportunities to earn points, as well as audit notices and policy updates. By not bombarding, but consistently reminding members of their designation requirements, it will be less likely that members forget or claim to have never received this information. It also encourages members to remain active, engaged, and interested in their profession, which is a positive effect of continuing education.
Two: CEP Information Accessibility
It is crucial to have information about CEP requirements readily available and easy to find for members. Create a webpage that clearly states the CEP requirements, ways to earn CEPs and the values of already-evaluated events, the importance of earning CEPs, FAQs, instructions on imputing CEP entries, and important deadlines. Also post all rules, regulations, by-laws, policies, and procedures established and enforced by the college for members to read. This page can certainly be overwhelming for members; therefore, it is important that PDFs and documents are clearly labeled and relatively self-explanatory. When sending out CEP/audit reminders to members, always ensure that they know where to find all this information, especially if this is a new page that members might not know exists. From an association coordinator standpoint, it is well-worth putting in time, effort, and thought into a solid webpage that clearly explains these points, to avoid members continuously contacting the college with the same questions and concerns. This step is the key to avoiding possible member confusion and frustration and will only lead to a smoother audit when the time comes.
Three: Become Comfortable with the Audit Software
It is inevitable that there will be questions from members about CEPs, especially if this is a newer process or procedure. These questions can be answered clearly and simply if the association coordinator has experienced this process from a member perspective. Take some time to explore the front-end of the journal entry page to facilitate phone or email conversations regarding the entry of points (one that will happen a lot!). Always ensure that member questions will be answered in the way that they will see it on their computer screens, and with instructions they will easily be able to follow. It is also wise to keep a file handy containing all CEP opportunity and events with their values and dates for members who ask. When member questions and concerns are addressed in a professional, friendly, and knowledgeable manner, not only do members gain confidence in their administrative staff, but they aren’t daunted by the task of fulfilling their CEP requirement.
From a college perspective, it must be able to interpret these entries and determine whether or not all members are fulfilling their continuing education requirements in a clear, simple, and efficient way. In order to do this, the association coordinator must ensure that data and reports are being run in accordance with the information that is needed to properly audit the members. The data required from members should include the event/course/work for which they are claiming CEPs, the number of CEPs, the date that this entry took place, and the option to upload a certificate of completion, program, or proof of attendance. With the association coordinator familiarizing themselves with the backend of the data collection and the information that is collected, accurate and effective reports will be run, making the audit a straightforward and simple process for the college.
Time for the Audit!
By coordinating these three tips into your next membership audit, the process will run more smoothly and will ease the worries and workload of both the members and the association coordinator. Remember, make sure that all members are aware of their designation requirements and the expectations of the college by sending and posting frequent reminders. The job of the association coordinator will be more effective if a clear and useful webpage is built. And the college will be set up to conduct an efficient and simple audit once the association coordinator is familiar and comfortable with the audit software and can create reports that provide the required CEP information. Best of luck with your association or college membership audit!