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Does your configuration enable automatic Chris21 skills processing and generate reminders when refresher training is due?

If you think your system could work better, read on. I receive many requests from users who want to know how to create efficient Chris21 skills processing. The good news is that you can configure Chris21 to create skills records automatically and generate reminders so that important refresher training is not overlooked. When you have your configuration right, the system will;

  • automatically create skills records when employees complete training courses. This is the Skills – SKL form in Chris21;
  • specify when each skill is due for refresh. This is a recent feature where the system will automatically populate the Next Refresh Date on SKL;
  • create history records when training has been undertaken to refresh skills. This is the Skill History – SKH form in Chris21;
  • send out reminders prior to the next refresh date. You set this up on Automatic Entries – ADE, based on the Next Refresh Date on SKL;
  • provide skill gap reports that will identify additional skills training required by a position incumbent. This can be achieved with the system report, Skill Comparison – SKR;
  • display training courses that deliver the training in the skills in which the incumbent is deficient.

Furthermore, with the correct setup, all the above-mentioned processes will happen automatically. Hence, there is less manual intervention needed by your training administrator and less chance that processes will be overlooked.

The configuration steps for automated Chris21 skills processing

I will assume that you currently do not record skills in Chris21 at this stage. But if you do have some minimal setup, then you may already have some skill codes in the system. In this case, you can ignore the first step in the list below. I will also assume that you already have Courses – CSD records and History – TRH records in your system.

The following Chris21 forms are used when setting up Chris21 skills processing:

  • SKI – Skill Code. Create all of your skill codes. These codes are then used by many other processes. This form is also used to set the expiry period for a skill. Consequently, populating this form is your first step;
  • CSK – Course Skills. Define all the skills that an employee will gain by completing a course;
  • CSS – Session Skills. Define all the skills that an employee will gain by completing an individual course session;
  • ADE – Automatic Entries. Create email reminders based on the Next Refresh Date on the Skills – SKL form;
  • USR – User Access. Assign Workgroups to users;
  • PSK – Position Skills. Add all the skills that position incumbents should possess.

Now that you are familiar with the configuration forms and what they are used for, the next step is to update these forms according to your requirements. There are a few things you will want to think about before you start, to ensure that you set the system up just how you need it.

For instance, do you want multiple skills to be associated with training courses, or will you just need a one to one mapping of course codes to skill codes? (I will go into detail about this in the next section). Another question might be, do all courses need refresh training or is it just some courses? And if they do, what is the refresh period?

While these questions are important, it is not vital that you are aware of all the requirements before you start. You can always revisit forms to update your configuration at a later stage.

Creating Skill Code – SKI records

As mentioned earlier, the very first step when configuring Chris21 skills processing is to create the skill codes. You create skill codes using the Skill Code – SKI form.

chris21 skills processing

As previously mentioned, you can create a single skill code to match the course code. This is what we refer to as the one to one mapping and is the most basic configuration setup. In this case, you would create the skill code as an exact replica of the course code. If the course code is ABC123, then you would create the skill code as ABC123.

One small difficulty that you will probably face is with the number of characters available to you. The Course Code can be a maximum of 20 characters and the Description 174 characters, whereas the Skill Code can be a maximum of 16 characters and the Description 24 characters. This just means that in some cases the Skill Code descriptions will need to be abbreviated.

When you use a one to one mapping, it simply means that the employee will be assigned the same Skill Code in their Skills – SKL record as the course code of the course they completed.

chris21 skills processing

For this scenario, you only need to create the ABC123 code in Skill Code – SKI. You will need to do this for all your current courses. In other words, for each current Courses – CSD record you will need to create the corresponding Skill Code – SKI record.

With this setup, whenever an employee completes a course they will be attributed with the corresponding single skill. If you want to make your configuration more sophisticated, you can set up for multiple skills per course.

In this scenario, the employee successfully completing a course will gain multiple skills. For example:

chris21 skills processing

Once you have fully configured the system, any employee who successfully completes course ABC123 will gain four skills. In this example, four Skills – SKL records will be automatically created for each employee completing the course.

I will explain how to associate skills with courses in the next section. But there is one more very important configuration step when creating Skill Code – SKI records. For skill refresh dates to be updated, the system needs to know what the expiry period is for each skill code. You do this by entering a value in the Skill Expires After field.

chris21 skills processing

This value is in months. Therefore, if a skill expires after two years, you would enter 24. With this detail entered, the system can now determine the Next Refresh Date when creating the Skills – SKL record. This date is important because it is used to trigger reminder emails when a skill refresh is becoming due. I will talk more about this later in this post.

Associating Skills with Courses

In the previous section I talked about assigning skills to employees when they successfully complete courses. I said you can setup your system to associate one skill with a course (in this case, the skill code is the same as the course code) or you can associate any number of skills with a single course.

To associate one or more skills to a course, you must firstly configure the Course Skills – CSK form.

chris21 skills processing

chris21 skills processing

If you want to have a one to one mapping with the Courses – CSD record, then this is the only Course Skills – CSK record that you need to create. As you can see from the screenshot above, the Associated Skill is the same as the Course Code. Note that the Associated Skill comes from the Skill Code – SKI record from the previous section.

If, however, you want to configure multiple skills for a course, you need to create multiple records on the Course Skills – CSK form. When you have done this, your CSK list will look something like this:

chris21 skills processing

Now, when employees successfully complete course ABC123 they each attain four new skills. This will be four new Skills – SKL records in Chris21.

It’s very important to create Course Skills – CSK records when you create a new Courses – CSD record. If you don’t do this, then the process to automatically create Skills – SKL records will not be completed. This means that employees successfully completing training courses will not attain the appropriate skills. To reiterate, the CSK records must be in place prior to running the Update Skills process (I will discuss this process later in this post). It will not suffice to simply re-run the Update Skills process again if CSK records are added later.

Associating different skills with an individual course session

You can also create Session Skills – CSS records. This can be useful if a particular course session differs from the standard session for that Course. Course Skills – CSK records that have been created for a Course will automatically default to the Session Skills – CSS form. You can modify the Skills on CSS if required. Ultimately, it is the skills listed on CSS that the system will transfer to employees who successfully complete a session.

For example, for this session of ABC123 you could add the skill ABC127:

chris21 skills processing

This means that for just this single session, all employees who successfully complete the Course ABC123 will be attributed with five skills, the additional skill being ABC127.

Setting up Chris21 to send reminder emails when skill refresher dates are due

Earlier in this post I described the Skill Expires After field on the Skill Code – SKI form. This is the field that tells the system the length in months until the skill is due for refresh. When the SKL record is created, the Next Refresh Date will be calculated and populated based on the value in the Skill Expires After field. Provided that the Next Refresh Date is populated, we can set the system up to send a reminder email to the employee and/or manager when refresh training is due.

To do this, you must create an Automatic Entries – ADE record. You use the ADE record to tell the system who to send a reminder email to, and when. Usually you will want to send the email at a predetermined time before the actual due date. Automatic Entries records can only be created using a date field on an employee based form. Look at the example below to see how to set up an ADE record:

chris21 skills processing

The first field you enter is the Field Code. This must always be a date field. It is the date that will be used to trigger the reminder email. The other stipulation is that it must be the data dictionary Field Code. In this case SKL NXT REFR is the Chris21 Field Code for the Next Refresh Date on the Skills – SKL form. You will find the full list of Field Codes on the Data Dictionary – DMA form.

The Offset Period is used to determine when the reminder email will be sent. Usually, you will want this to be before the date in question. In the example above, I have set the Offset Period to be one month before the Next Refresh Date. The correct syntax must be used. If you want to set the reminder to be three months before the date, then you would enter -3M. You can also use W for Weeks, D for Days and Y for Years.

The Workgroup field is used if you want a specific group of Chris21 users to view the list of upcoming reminders. In our example, I have created a Workgroup called PAYROLL. Anyone who is assigned the PAYROLL Workgroup will be able to see a list of all the Next Refresh Date reminders. You will need to configure the following to create and assign users to Workgroups:

  • Create the Workgroup. You must create a Table – TAB entry on the WORKG table. You can have multiple workgroups. For example, you might want one for HR, Training, Administration, etc.
  • Assign the Workgroup to the user. You do this using the User Access – USR form, as shown below:

chris21 skills processing

Notice above that the Reminder Workgroup field has the PAYROLL Workgroup selected. Also note that you must check the Show Reminders checkbox.

It’s important to remember that the Automatic Entries – ADE record must be created before Skills – SKL records are created. This is because when the Next Refresh Date is entered and the record saved, then the email trigger is ‘set’. This means that any Skills – SKL records created prior to the creation of the ADE record won’t trigger any reminders. You can, however, reset the triggers by removing the Next Refresh Dates and then re-entering and re-saving the records.

Defining position skills

You use the Position Skills – PSK form to record all the skills that incumbents should possess in their position. This is essential if you want to produce skills gap analysis reports. To complete this part of the configuration you will have to determine what skills should be attached to each position in your organisation. Once you have this information at hand you can create the individual PSK records. As this can be a labour-intensive task, you can use the GTR process to electronically load the PSK records. This is not only a very efficient process, but it also validates each record as it is loaded to ensure only valid records enter the system.

If you need more information about the GTR process, see my blog Increase Your Productivity Using GTR Processing.

Once you have created a list of required skills for a position, you can look at the incumbents Skills – SKL records to determine where gaps in learning and skills exist.

chris21 skills processing

From our previous example we can see that the Skills – SKL records for this employee is as follows: chris21 skills processing

A quick glance shows that the employee is still missing three skills; ABC456, ABC457 and ABC458. Of course, in a real-life situation an employee could have a very large list of skills on both PSK and SKL. Standard Chris21 reports such as Skill Comparison – SKR can be run over multiple employees to provide detailed information about skill gaps.

Automating Chris21 skills processing

Now that you have completed the configuration, you can set the system up to automatically take care of the creation of Skills – SKL records and send reminders when skill refresher dates become due. I will describe the process once Training History – TRH records have been created in your system. There are a few different ways to produce the TRH records, therefore I won’t go into these in this post. Instead, I will assume that you are at the stage where you are regularly creating TRH records.

The automated process will do the following:

  • Create Skills – SKL records. Multiple records may be created depending on how many skill you have associated with a Course on the Course Skills – CSK form;
  • Update the Skills Updated? field on training History – TRH records;
  • Update the Next Refresh Date on the Skills – SKL form;
  • Create Skill History – SKH records when a skill has been refreshed.

Once your training History – TRH records have been created you will notice that the Skills Updated? field is unchecked:

Chris21 skills processing

This indicates that the course has been completed by the employee but that the Skills – SKL record has not been created. In other words, the employee has not been assigned the skill (or skills) associated with the Course.

To ensure that Skills are assigned to employees you must run the Update Skills – SKU process. This process will look at the Course Skills – CSK records to determine the skills associated with the course. It will then automatically create all the relevant Skills records.

chris21 skills processing

The SKU record above will process all ABC123 training History – TRH records where the Skills Updated? field is unchecked. You enter an asterisk * in the Course Date field to ensure the process looks at all dates. SKU will automatically set the Skills Updated? checkbox to checked. This will ensure that subsequent process don’t recreate duplicate Skills records. If you want to run SKU over all courses, simply place an asterisk * in the Course Code field.

After running SKU you can see that the Skills Updated? field is now checked:

Chris21 skills processing


The process is now complete. In our example, when employees successfully complete the ABC1213 Course, they will attain four skills. We know this because we created four records on Course Skills – CSK. The Update Skills – SKU process will create four Skills – SKL records for each Course attendee. You can see this in the Skills record for the employee:

chris21 skills processing

Furthermore, you will notice that the Next Refresh Date has been populated. As described earlier, this date is calculated using the value entered in the Skill Expires After field on the Skill Code – SKI form. This has been set to 24 months for each of the entries on CSK and you can see this reflected above as 1/05/2019 – two years after the Last Refresh Date. If you have your Automatic Entries – ADE record setup, email reminder triggers have now been set for the Next Refresh Date on the Skills records created. In this example, the reminders will be sent one month prior to the Next Refresh Date and will be sent to the Employee and the Manager.

The Update Skills process will also create Skill History – SKH records. A Skill History record will be created when an existing Skills – SKL record is updated after refresher training. Effectively, the existing record is moved to SKH and the most recent record appears on SKL.

One last step to fully automate the process, is to schedule the Update Skills process to run automatically on a regular basis. It’s a good idea to schedule this process to run daily to ensure the system is always up to date. Remember that SKU will only process records where the Skills Updated? field on the training History – TRH form is unchecked. For help scheduling reports refer to my post Chris21 Quick Tip – How to Schedule Reports in Chris21.

If you follow these configuration instructions, you will find that you will have an automated system that takes care of your Chris21 skills processing and generates timely reminders to employees to help ensure skills are always refreshed on time. You only need to update your configuration when new Course – CSD records are added to your system. If you have any questions or problems, or indeed if you have successfully implemented this process I would be interested to hear about it.