Case Study: Auto-Teaming with Report Scheduler

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We’ve done several blog entries on the Output to Team feature and Report Scheduler for automating team assignments, but I wanted to tell you about a project that I worked on recently for a customer.

During a consulting session, the customer described a problem she was having managing requirements in VTA.  She described a scenario in which she wanted to manage a series of requirements that are to be due quarterly over a 3 year period.  I’m thinking to myself “that’s no big deal,” until she said that everyone had to be on the same schedule.  This meant if you came in Year 1 –  Quarter 3, you wouldn’t be expected to complete Year 1 – Quarter 1 and 2 requirements until Year 4, when the curriculum sequence started over. To make it even more challenging, she needed all this in place in VTA starting 2014, which is Year 2 of the curriculum.

She had investigated using Programs, but really wanted this required training to appear on the students plans in Learner and be covered by the automated requirements notices.  Therefore, she knew she had to use requirements, instead of programs.  Also, the people in this curriculum were nominated into it and did not share a common job title, so she knew she had to use Teams to assign these requirements.

So here was the dilemma….

1) If she used a single team then she had to spend a ton time exempting students from requirements when they entered the curriculum after Year 1 – Quarter 1 AND she had to make sure that she used the appropriate expiration date for each exemption to ensure that each quarter’s requirements came due in the correct quarter

2)  Her other option would be to build a team for each quarter (12 teams in all)  AND when someone entered the curriculum add them to each of the 12 teams with different assignment dates to ensure that the each quarter’s requirements came due in the correct quarter.  Either option was going to be a massive pain to manage and she wanted to know if there was an easier way to handle it.

We figured out a way to utilize scheduled Output to Team reports to make this undertaking manageable.  Here’s what we decided to do:

She went with option 2 and set up the 12 teams; one team for each quarter for three years (Yr 1 – Qtr 1, Yr 1 – Qtr 2, Yr1 – Qtr 3, Yr 1 – Qtr 4, Yr 2 – Qtr 1, etc..).  Once her teams were ready, she started adding the requirements for each quarter.  She used an effective date that corresponded to the first time the requirements for that quarter would be due.  Example:  Yr 2 – Qtr 1 requirements all had an effective date of March 31, 2014, which is the last day of the quarter.  For Yr 2 -Qtr 2 requirements, the effective date was set to June 30, 2014 and so on.

In addition, she made each a due month requirement and chose the month that is the last month in that quarter.  So, for each of the Qtr 1 teams, (Yr 1 – Qtr 1, Yr 2 – Qtr 1, and Yr 3 – Qtr 1), she chose March as the due month, set the frequency to 36 months and the grace period to 0.  The Qtr 2 team requirements used a June Due Month, Qtr 3 a September Due Month and Qtr 4 a December Due Month, but all requirements had a 36 month freq and a grace period of 0.

After the requirements were all setup, she manually added the affected people to Yr 2 – Qtr 1, which is the current team.  Going forward, she will manually add and remove students from the current quarter’s team, as directed by the curriculum manager.

There will be no need to add new students to any of the other curriculum teams.  However, when someone is removed from the curriculum, she will need to manually remove them from all the curriculum’s teams.  This is done most easily by editing the student’s record then deleting the team assignments from the Student’s Team tab.  Since she followed a naming convention, all these teams will be listed together when the Student – Teams grid is sorted on Team Name.

The rest of the ongoing maintenance will be handled by scheduled reports.  On the first day of the each new quarter, a scheduled List Students report on the previous quarter’s team will run that utilizes Output to Team to add all the students on the previous quarter’s team to the new quarter’s team and sets the assignment date for those students to the last day of the current quarter.

This is how she set it up:

First, she created a report favorite named Yr 2 – Qtr 2 using the List Students report.  On the WHO tab, she selected Yr 2 – Qtr 1 (the previous quarter’s team) and on the WHERE tab she chose File Type: Output to Team with the Update option on the Team Yr 2 – Qtr 2 and selected the Period: To End of this Quarter.  The Update option on Output to Team will compare the students on the report (from Yr 2 – Qtr 1) to the students currently on the WHERE tab team (Yr 2 – Qtr 2), any students on the report that are not on the Yr 2 – Qtr 2 will be added with an assignment date equal to the last day of the quarter in which the report is run.

Next, she edited the Report Favorite: Yr 2 – Qtr 2 and accessed the Scheduler tab. 

1) She made the scheduler record Active and set the email confirmation to come to her and the report to go the curriculum manager.  This lets her know when the team is updated and at the same time sends a report to the curriculum manager which details the changes made to the team.

2) Then, she set the Run Time to Night so the report runs as close as possible to midnight and the Start Date to April 1, 2014 which is the first day of the quarter in which the report should run. 

3) Finally, for the Recurrence Pattern she chose Monthly, and set the Recurrence for The 1 day of every 36 month(s).  This causes the report to run on the first of the month every 36 months after the initial run on April 1, 2014.  The second run will take place April 1, 2017.

Following this as a template, she created a report favorite to update each quarter’s team by choosing the previous quarter’s team on the WHO tab and the quarter team to be updated on the WHERE tab, utilizing Output to Team with the Update option.  After all the favorites were created, she scheduled each favorite to run at Night on the first day of the quarter in which the team belonged and set the recurrence to Monthly and The 1 day of every 36 month(s).  Starting with the Yr 2 – Qtr 2 favorite with a Start Date of April 1, 2014 and ending with the Yr 2 – Qtr 1 favorite with a Start Date of Jan 1, 2017.

There are a ton of things you can do with Report Scheduler and Output To Team.  As we come across more unique applications for it, we’ll post them in the blog.  If you have a creative idea for using these features in combination, please let us know.  We’d love to share it with the VTA User Community.

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Duncan Welder IV
Mr. Welder holds a Master’s of Education from Texas A&M University in Educational Technology and has more than 15 years experience in implementation of Learning Management Systems, both domestically and abroad. Mr. Welder has been recognized for his application of Learning Management Systems to manage regulatory-compliance in industries ranging from petrochemicals to finance and has provided presentations to professional organizations including the Gulf Coast Process Technology Alliance, the Northwest Process Technology Alliance and the American Society of Training and Development.
Mr. Welder’s career is founded in traditional instructional design and computer-based training development. He is a certified Development Dimensions International facilitator, a Kirkpatrick Certified Evaluator and facilitator of the Ohio State University curriculum development program. In addition to working in industry, Mr. Welder has held adjunct faculty positions at Bowling Green State University, Ohio and the College of the Mainland, Texas. Mr. Welder has been published in both Training Magazine as well as US Business Review.