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Building a Credential Program Brick by Brick


Wed Mar 13 2024

Building a Credential Program Brick by Brick

Retaining top talent. Attracting skilled individuals. Upskilling current employees in a shorter time period.

There are several reasons why learning and development leaders might want to create a credentialing program in their organization. A credential is a broad category, notes McKenzie Day in the article “Build a High-Value Credentialing Program.” It’s a qualification that proves an individual’s knowledge, skills, and achievements and encompasses badges, certificates, and certifications.


To create an effective credentialing program, you must understand your why, get stakeholder buy-in, work with partners on the technology and tools, and sustain the program with solid governance and processes.

Establish the Foundation

Day writes based on her own experience of creating a credentialing program. Several business partners and clients asked whether her customer education team offered credentials. It was this questioning that led her to realize a credentialing program made sense for her organization. Are your clients interested in such a program?

In addition to the business request, it’s important to understand why you are establishing a program. Are employees interested in developing themselves? Is your leadership looking to acquire and retain top talent?

Perhaps the organization seeks to brand itself as a top employer in development and upskilling. These are all valid reasons to build a credentialing program; each organization will have its own rationale.

An additional part of laying the foundation is determining what type of credentialing program you will build and the various levels, if applicable. Nomenclature is important and should make sense. For example, levels may include associate, professional, and expert. There are also legal considerations to weigh in terms of naming and assessing ability for a certification.


Develop Stakeholder Relationships

While you may have been asked by some clients for a credentialing program, there’s still a lot of buy-in to secure. Day conducted a listening tour to learn how such a program would fit in with business lines. She received intelligence that helped her and her team improve the credentialing program via questions her team hadn’t considered.

You’ll want to speak the language of your business partners, explain the challenge that the credentialing program will solve, and show the value. The value will relate to the why of the program. What metrics will you use to tie the program to talent retention, for example, if that is the reason for the L&D program?

Tools and Technology

How will certificates or badges work with the organization’s current technology? Are there interoperability issues to contend with? Will you be able to automate generating credentials once you are past the pilot program?

Work with your IT and legal team to begin addressing some of these questions. Then, develop a list of questions for potential vendors and research vendors online before creating a list of vendors you’d like to meet. After doing so, debrief with your team and decide which vendor you’ll choose. Day created a spreadsheet to compare the capabilities of each vendor, pricing models, and other notes.

Maintain the Program

Day writes, “A lot of energy goes into building a new program, piloting an initiative, and planning for the launch date. To maintain commitment and engagement, clearly define systems for maintaining the credentialing program in a process document, guide, or governance document.”


Consider these questions to keep your program on course:

  • How will you continue to fund it?

  • Under what circumstances will you expand it (adding new badges or certificates, for example)?

  • In what ways will you keep learners engaged and interested in skilling?

  • How will you measure its ongoing success?

Time Is Ripe

There are so many reasons to create a program to attract talent and upskill and reskill your current employees. What’s your why?

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