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Review: SWAT CPD Recorder

15th Feb 2005
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Product: CPD Recorder
Publisher: SWAT
Price: £49 (Single user) to £149 (multi-office)
Review by: Nigel Harris
Availability: Direct from AccountingWEB at CPD Recorder

With the change from CPE to CPD, firms will need to review their recording and monitoring of staff training. The new emphasis is on personal development plans and a more subjective assessment of personal training needs matched to work requirements. SWAT has come up with a simple CD-ROM solution in two parts.

The first, and arguably more innovative for those accountants used to attending monthly CPE lectures without any real planning, is the Training Needs Assessment form. This questionnaire, provided as a Word document, looks at the skills and resources needed by your business or practice, the key issues you and the business/firm expect to face in the next 12 to 24 months and concludes with a training plan around the technical and non-technical skills identified. This could easily be completed as part of an annual or six-monthly staff appraisal, and will be familiar territory for those with the Investors in People award. Used correctly, it will enable employers to ensure that their investment in staff training and personal development is targeted at the needs of both the business and the employees.

The second part is the CPD Recorder itself, a simple-looking Excel spreadsheet cram packed full of (invisible) gizmos such as macros and pivot tables. Data entry is very simple, recording training activities by date, activity and category. Text details can be saved and used to build up drop-down lists so that regular activities can be entered very quickly on subsequent occasions. Activities can be related to specific items in the training needs assessment to log process towards agreed goals. Having completed the form you just click on the "Post Record" button and the data is filed away and you can enter another activity. Click on the Summary tab and you can see your CPD record to date.

There are three versions to suit firms of all sizes:

  • Single User, for use by one individual, priced at £49+VAT
  • Single Office, for use by any number of individuals on a single office network, £99+VAT
  • Multi-Office, for use by any number of individuals within any number of offices in a firm, £149+VAT

    The clever bit with the single and multi-office versions is that the data can be sent to a central server file where it can be collated and reported on to generate whole firm reports. This takes this software beyond simply a recording tool and enables firms using it to simply and effectively monitor and control staff training with very little effort. Users simply submit their data at regular intervals to the administrator, either by email or to a pre-selected network location. The system automatically keeps track of the data submitted, so users cannot submit the same data twice.

    Using pivot tables provided, the administrator can produce reports of CPD hours by activity and category or date for all or selected employees. This will be particularly valuable for regulated firms monitoring audit-related training. With a little Excel training, users should easily be able to modify the reports supplied to produce a range of additional customised reports to suit their requirements.

    Detailed, easy to follow user and administrator manuals are provided on the CD-ROM.

    Once again, SWAT has produced a practical solution to a topical problem, and at such a low price that it really isn't worth spending time designing an Excel-based CPD recorder of your own and effectively reinventing the wheel!

    The software is undated, so the purchase is a one-off cost, not an annual fee. I would stress the importance of the Training Needs Assessment, which is vital to the successful implementation of the new CPD scheme. Otherwise the CPD Recorder simply becomes an automated timesheet and you're back to simply clocking up hours to meet an annual quota - the very thing the institutes are trying to get away from.

    Availability: Direct from AccountingWEB at CPD Recorder

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