Building a Certification Program - Step 10: Managing your certification program (Part 2)
Posted on
September 24, 2019

NOTE: This is a 10-part series. To view all articles in the series, click here.

3-e) What is your policy on cheating and on exam security?

You certification program is complete. Now it just has run itself in perpetuity, right? Well, not exactly.

If you are managing a high-stakes exam-based certification program, then you must define and publish out your policy on cheating. If anyone is either caught cheating or is reported to you as cheating that person needs to have been informed of the consequences of their actions. This is all part of ensuring your program is legally defensible.

What follows are some examples that I have used in my programs.

Sample 1: Exam Security Policy

Honesty in completing assessments is essential to the purpose of certification program and to the development of the personal integrity of the employee. Cheating, plagiarism, or other kinds of assessment dishonesty will not be tolerated and will result in appropriate sanctions that may include failing an assessment, failing the certification, or being terminated. Suspected cases in this program may be reported to the employee's supervisor or Certification Officer.

Sample 2: Exam Security Policy:

The XYZA organization maintains a Code of Ethics of which Integrity is one of its core values. It states, Professionals and providers behave in a trustworthy manner. They act honestly and responsibly both individually and as members of the organizations with which they are affiliated and employed.� Maintaining integrity extends to participation in the XYZA certification and credentialing processes.

It is expected that each candidate for certification or credentialing in the XYZA will act in an honest and trustworthy manner. The candidate represents that the materials they submit are correct and truthfully represent their credentials and qualifications. The candidate also represents that their participation in the testing process has been done according to the rules set out in the procedures for the test and represents their own work. A candidate who knowingly misrepresents his/her work or violates the rules of the testing process will be denied the credential they are applying or and forfeit their fee.

The XYZA represents that each applicant's materials will be evaluated only according to the criteria specified and the tests will be scored only according to the scoring criteria defined.

Now we will examine how we will deal with any lessons learned along the certification path.

3-f) How will you deal with any lessons learned?

Lessons Learned are always the best part of the program for some program managers. This is where you get a chance to learn from key participants what worked and what did not work. You can ask participants to provide you with any pertinent observations and recommendations.

Many do this with a survey, I prefer to get everyone on a call and take notes that they can see and tell me live any corrections that should be made. What follows is a sample lessons learned report from one of the roles that I recently certified.

You certification program is complete. Now it just has run itself in perpetuity, right? Well, not exactly.

Figure 2: A sample Lessons Learned document

Now that we have reviewed some of the significant policies that you need to have solutions for, it is time to get back to the beginning and look at the program charter.

4) Will you draft a program charter? If yes, what will it contain?

A program charter is the means by which an organization documents the purpose, scope and participants of a program. The charter's purpose is to authorize the program manager to proceed with the defined program and to leverage company resources to address the measurable objectives that are stated in the document.

A program charter for a certification program will also contain sections that define clearly your communications strategy and your strategy for dealing with a host of risks. My position is quite simple: If you are going to manage a program then a program charter must be signed and dated by a senior sponsor and clearly communicated out to all potential candidates.

To help you clearly grasp what should be in a program charter for a certification program, what I have done is to provide you with a sample charter that I have used for years.

Sample 1: Program Charter

Program Charter (PDF document; will launch in new tab)

Now that we have reviewed the contents of a program charter it is finally time to look at how we manage the three-ring circus known as a certification program.

5) Will you draft a full program plan for managing the program? If so, what will it cover?

Every program manager I have ever spoken to always had an easy time answering the first part of this question. Every manager always said yes to requiring a full program plan. To the second part of the question, however, there is a lack of consistency across the field.

Some used an Excel spreadsheet to manage their programs while others used a dedicated project management program such as Microsoft Office Project. Since I learned on Excel and have since moved up to Office Project, what I will share with you is a sample from each.

Sample 1 shows the top tier of tasks, or milestones, for certifying one team of professionals who had to undergo performance-based training and testing. Under each milestone would be listed all subordinate tasks and their duration as well as the resource(s) responsible for addressing each task.

The nice part of Office Project is as you get status reports from the resources responsible for subordinate tasks and you can mark a task complete you will see that office will automatically calculate per cent complete for the entire program. This is quite nice when your bosses are asking you for per cent complete daily.

Sample 2 show much the same information as Sample 1 does, but it was just for a cognitive assessment, so the durations were broken down into hours as opposed to days. Since the sponsor on that project was more familiar with Excel as opposed to Office Project this plan was formulated in Excel.

Sample 1 (Microsoft Office Project): Program Plan

You certification program is complete. Now it just has run itself in perpetuity, right? Well, not exactly.

Figure 3: Sample program plan

Sample 2 (Microsoft Office Excel): Program Plan

You certification program is complete. Now it just has run itself in perpetuity, right? Well, not exactly.

Figure 4: Sample program plan

Series Summary:

Despite taking almost 18 months to finish this series, it has been a lot of fun for me, and most of all, I hope, helpful to readers. We started out with a definition of certification and then walked all the way up the pyramid to where we finish today, covering project/program plans.

If the material and insights I have shared has helped you, then please feel free to share the contents with others. If I have missed the boat, then please feel free to let me know that as well. If by some chance you are flat tired of herding cats, and you would like to speak to me about some ideas you are floating, then please feel free to email me and we can set up a time to chat.

Until the next series, I wish you all good things in your journey to have a successful certification program.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: I would like to to acknowledge and thank Cody Clark and his whole team at Certification Magazine for allowing me to share this series with you all.


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2) Coscarelli, W., Robins, D. G., Shrock, S., & Herbst, P. (1998). The certification suite: A classification system for certification tests. Performance Improvement 37(7), 13-18. doi: 10.1002/pfi.4140370706

3) Gagné, R. M. (1985). The Conditions of Learning and Theory of Instruction (4th ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

4) Gagné, R. M., Wager, W. W., Golas, K. C., & Keller, J. M. (2005). Principles of Instructional Design (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.

5) Shrock, S. A., & Coscarelli, W. C. C. (2007). Criterion-referenced Test Development: Technical and Legal Guidelines for Corporate Training (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

6) Schule, R. (2009).A staff certification program that works. Healthcare Purchasing News 33(7), 32-34.

7) Wyrostek, W. (2011) Core Considerations for a Successful Corporate Certification Program. Retrieved from

8) Brown, A., & Green, T. D. (2011). The Essentials of Instructional Design: Connecting Fundamental Principles with Process and Practice (2nd ed.). Boston: Prentice Hall.

9) Dick, W., Carey, L., & Carey, J. O. (2009). The Systematic Design of Instruction (7thed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Merrill/Pearson.

10) Flynn, T. (2002, October). Making the right choice: Bringing certification home. Certification Magazine 10, 28-31.

11) Interview: Tracey Flynn, author of unlocking the power of certification�How to develop effective certification programs. (n.d.) GoCertify. Retrieved from

12) Mulkey, J., & Naughton, J. (2005, January). Dispelling the myths of certification. T+D 1, 20-29.

13) Wyrostek, W., & Downey, S. (2016). Compatibility of common instructional models with the DACUM process. Adult Learning, 0(0), 1-7, doi:10.1177/1045159516669702

About the Author

Warren E. Wyrostek is a Solutions Oriented Educator and Leader, a Certified Trainer and Facilitator, an Experienced DACUM Enthusiast, and an innovative Certification and Assessment expert in demand. Warren holds a Doctorate in Education in Curriculum and Instruction. Currently Warren is an Adjunct at Valdosta State University and the owner of 3WsConsulting - Providing Efficient And Effective Top To Bottom Solutions To Learning Issues. Warren can be reached at

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