3 Quick Best Practices for Tracking and Reporting Your CPE
CPE tracking and reporting is a well known challenge to those who have to deal with it. Year after year you need to get your continuing education credit and painstakingly keep every bit of proof and report on it at the appointed time. That’s a lot of activity to track! It can be done better.
Most people have a method for this, and the results vary from not working at all to working well - but in almost all cases the process is far harder than it should be, and people end up scrambling when the time comes to inform whoever they need to inform of their CPE activities in order to maintain their certification. So, in very short order, we have assembled a short list of things to do that will add some order to the chaos, and hopefully save you time and heartache when the time comes to do your tracking and reporting.
Save Everything In One Place
If you already did this, you’re probably organized enough that you don’t need to read this article. But it’s not easy because every cpe webinars provider and seminar/conference host delivers their ‘proof of attendance’ (your CPE verification) in different ways, and those ways are convenient for them, not necessarily convenient for you.
If you’re managing this all in paper, then invest in a closable folder, label it, and keep it in the same place, always. Don’t move it unless it’s to add another certificate or in order to do your periodic reporting. We do CPE for a living at Illumeo and I can’t tell you the number of people who have simply misplaced their CPE certificates. Not one certificate, mind you, but all of their certificates. Utter disaster - utterly avoidable.
In that physical file you will want all proofs-of-purchase of seminars, conferences or other CPE access, as that is all part of the ‘trail of evidence’ should you need to track these things down. You also need to keep every CPE (or CE or whatever your governing organization calls your continuing education credits) certificate. If it’s printed out already, great. Put it in the folder. If it’s online, print it out and put it in that folder. Unless it’s on a website you return to reliably, you might lose track of the various and sundry online CPE sources you use and thus may find yourself with a CPE “hole” at the end of your CPE reporting period.
Keep a Running List
Next up is to keep an ongoing list of all credits earned so that you can do the math on what you have earned, and what you still need to earn, to reach your CPE goals.
This list should have at least the following pieces of data for each entry:
- Event Name
- Event Location (including “online” if it is a webinar)
- Event provider (who ran the event)
- Date of event or date of completion
- Field of Study (if applicable)
- Number of credits earned
- Running total of CPE credits for your current reporting period
With this information you should be able to answer most CPE related questions for your CPE governing authority, and you will know for your own edification just where you are in your CPE earning process.
Put it in the Cloud
Well, that second step sounds a lot like it would benefit from being ‘always available’, and you can make ‘always available’ happen surprisingly easily and free these days. One way is to use a Google spreadsheet. If you have never used Google Sheets before, it’s incredibly simple. Just log in to Gmail or any other Google product you use and then go to your Google Drive and select “New” and then “Google Sheets”. Name your sheet and it will auto-save as you add your data. Happily, on any web-connected device with a web browser, you will be able to access and update your Google Spreadsheet. From there you can always see your hours earned and basic data about your CPA CPE, and refer back to your offline certificate storage as needed.
An even easier and just as free way to do this is to use the free Illumeo Mobile CPE Tracker. This tracks any CPE by way of you filling in an online form with standard handful of questions on any CPE earning event or activity, and saves it in the cloud where it is fully reportable and accessible. One clear advantage of the Illumeo Mobile CPE Tracker is that it is directly connected to your mobile device’s camera, prompting you to take a photo of any certificate for permanent saving in the system. Or you can simply upload an emailed or scanned certificate from your phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer (remember those?). Regardless, it only takes a few moments and you’re all set, forever.
The Illumeo Mobile CPE Tracker system lets you get away from managing and storing paper and the manual reporting that comes with it. Instead you have a centralized and streamlined process that does it all, including reporting by date range and cpe certification type for dozens of certifications.
So there you have it. Whether you enjoy tracking and managing paper, or if you want to go fully-automated, fast, and easily accessible, there are some simple tips for free and effective CPE management that can make your life easier and less stressful.