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Employee Skills Testing, Certification and Compliance


Enterprise Learning: A Better Way

By Peggie Brown, for Hostedware Corporation


Content Management Systems (CMS) was a buzz marketing phrase for the years 1999 and 2000. Many large corporations jumped in with huge budgets and set about attempting to track and organize data for managing their customers. By 2001 reports flowed forth indicating that CMS was not all it was cracked up to be. Unfortunately, before making the jump, these corporations failed in understanding the complexity, time and commitment involved.

Corporations, finally understanding that their business' strategic assets involve not only their customers, but also the talent among their employees, have begun focusing on raising the bar by offering additional learning opportunities to employees. Mind you the new corporate focus on education isn't simply an altruistic adoration of education; rather training and testing systems makes sense (or should we say "cents"). Systematically planning the development of people, their skills and knowledge maximizes not only each individual's performance, but the total overall performance of the organization. The result of a well educated workforce shows in the corporate bottom line.

Under development since before 1997, the new animal touted by marketing gurus arrives! Enter, Enterprise Learning Management Systems, or LCMS, standing for Learning Content Management Systems, also known simply as e-learning. Like their predecessor the CMS, LCMS also requires large amounts of capital, time and commitment. LCMS offers online distribution of learning activities such as locating and using educational content, tracking learner progress, reporting learner performance, and exchanging student records between administrative systems. Some LCMS companies offer up to 1,000 canned module add-ons, providing companies a huge library of learning.

All this sounds wonderful until corporations actually see the capital outlay, commitment of the workforce required to implement the system, complexity of the system and experience the difficulty of integrating an LCMS with their current technology. The add-on learning modules may not fit the corporation's structure and best practices and certainly aren't personalized to a specific business. Wait until you find that you need a staff of Java Programmers for integrating, modifying or building your own learning modules. That sort of puts a real damper on the whole idea of an in-house e-learning system, especially for not so giant corporations and businesses.

So computerized learning is not quite ready for prime time, right? Corporations should probably wait until costs come down and complexities dissolve. Wrong!

Enter, Hosted Test from Hostedware Corporation, instantly relieving the painful costs and aggravations of implementing an LCMS and yet, providing its users the same functionality and customizable results with a great record for customer service to boot! At least one marketer of LCMS states that a "full-fledged LCMS is designed to manage the creation, storage, reuse, and delivery of e-learning content". Hosted Test certainly easily meets all criterions. That's right, the only scaling down that you see when using Hosted Test is the cost and time it takes for implementation of your training and testing solutions. Enter also, the new era of an efficient, customizable learning and testing experience, which actually cuts the costs, allows individuals flexibility and self-paced training and alleviates required instructional time.

We recently interviewed some of Hostedware's customers, looking for some downsides to report along with the good experiences they might relate. Unfortunately, while happily granted interviews, we failed in our task of finding faults with the system at least from the customers that use it.

Customers like Bernard Martinage, founding president of Restaurant, with worldwide requirements enthusiastically discussed their reasons for choosing and their experience with Hosted Test.

Restaurant offers four levels of certification and other types of testing for the hospitality industry, including global-wide culinary schools, restaurants and hotels. Mr. Martinage, frequently using the adjective "awesome" when describing features of Hosted Test, spent months reviewing possible testing solutions before selecting Hosted Test. "You can find cheaper testing services" says Mr. Martinage, "but you won't get the same level of service or the same abilities."

Because Restaurant provides testing for institutions both requiring and not requiring accreditation, and for four different levels of certification exams, the testing software must select the right choice of questions in the database. These would be based on the individual taking the test, and each test requires a random generation of questions meeting certain criteria. Each individual taking a test receives one minute per question, a requirement customized by request from Mr. Martinage to ensure testing integrity. In addition, various tests require a different level of mastery for a successful score. Upon test completion, each test taker receives a customized message, based on the required success rate for the level of certification and requirement for accreditation versus the test taker's performance and instant feedback as to the correct answer for questions answered incorrectly.

Mr. Martinage cited the ease of adding additional questions, customizing the questions produced based on level of certification or non-certification, affordability and the excellent responsiveness of professional staff at Hostedware as key satisfaction factors. Restaurant deals with many different companies for products and services on a regular basis. "Oh, you wouldn't believe what is out there; there are only three companies that I can list as understanding customer service, Hostedware is one of the three", exclaimed Mr. Martinage when discussing levels of customer service and product satisfaction. Martinage also liked that with Hosted Test, the purchased testing seats do not expire, saving the company time and money in guesstimating' the exact number of testing seats they might need for a one year period. "We simply buy more seats when our inventory runs low", explained Mr. Martinage.

Another interesting detail came forth while interviewing customers of Hostedware. Employers using the testing system found what they classified as a legal benefit. Because the employers rely on testing for promotion of their staff, the fact that Hosted Test provides them a way to test and score employees anonymously, claims of promotions based on racial, sexual or other type of bias no longer are a factor. Each person taking the test is issued a key code based on the type and level of test they need to take. During the test, the computer randomly generates the questions within a specified level of difficulty. Revelation of the identity of the test taker happens only after the test is scored and the key code is matched to the person to whom it was issued. The employee learns their score immediately upon test completion, at which time an email also notifies the appropriate manager in the organization of the test completion and score.

Peggie Brown, experienced paralegal, freelance author and founder of Katsuey's Legal Gateway (


Hostedware Corporation ( is a pioneer in providing online software solutions for research, education and performance improvement. Hosted Survey and Hosted Test are used by human resources professionals, market researchers, education and training organizations and membership associations worldwide.


Contact us at Customer Service to learn more about these cost-effective, self-configurable and easy to use tools.


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