After reading my recent article on training databases, a reader suggested that employees need access to their own data files.

Aserra wrote, “Training is much more than a bevy of mismatched classes—it is there to help an employee grow and learn, becoming a better asset to their employer and becoming more marketable for themselves either within the company or outside the company. If you do not have unrestricted access to your training information—history, trend wants and desires—you will not even know if you are being remotely effective.”

This response was right on the money. A well-designed training or human resources database should provide an employee with a dynamic source of information about his or her status. At minimum, an employee should be able to use this database as an online course catalogue and employee transcript. This means an employee should be able to:

  • Look at completed and required courses for current positions and future promotions.
  • Determine “scores” of any online testing required or offered through an employer.
  • Learn the dates, times, and locations for courses of interest.

Minor enhancements to your system can allow the employee to use the training database as a two-way communication tool to:

  • Register for courses online.
  • Obtain materials for the course by downloading portable document files (PDFs).
  • Be reminded of course and exam schedules.

The crucial question: Who can see what?
With access to personal records comes the issue of security and permissions. As a training manager, you will want to think through who can have rights to see and edit data files.

There are several ways to arrange permissions. A simple hierarchy works for many organizations. This hierarchy allows different users to use training data in different ways, while maintaining data confidentiality.

At the top of the hierarchy is the database administrator. The database administrator has programming and query access to all records. This level may not be necessary for some pre-packaged systems.

The training administrator is at an equal and complementary level. This individual inputs and edits key data, monitors any automated functions to ensure data is properly downloading, and sets reports and queries.

Supervisors can access their own records and records of anyone within their scope of responsibility. The supervisor has view-only rights.

Individuals also have view-only rights to their personal records.

Figure 1 illustrates a simple hierarchy that can be used as a template for your own purposes. (Double-click on Figure 1 to see the image.)

Figure 1
Access to files depends on the individual’s position in the company.

Relational links determine access and course offerings
Whether your company purchases a prepackaged product or develops an in-house training database, you will want to make sure it is set up to accommodate multiple layers of access rights. The easiest way to do this is to set up a series of relational data tables. The core of this database houses key elements that can also link it to other human resources databases. Other related tables will serve as the gatekeeper to various layers of rights.

Figure 2 illustrates a simplified example of this design.

Figure 2
The core data table establishes access rights, a person’s team assignment, and the appropriate courses for the members of each team.

The simple design in Figure 2 demonstrates how data tables can be organized to ensure protection of data and easy linkage to key fields.

The core employee data table associates user ID and permission level with name of employee. These core fields can link to other data tables maintaining information on course requirements, course completion, permission levels, and other information to be tracked. Queries can link data tables together or create new tables by linking fields from various tables. Maintaining separate tables keeps data files organized and protected.

Tracking progress
The example shown here is a very basic example of an organization system that allows for multiple levels of permissions and data management. This type of system can be created in any relational database program. Understanding the concept and theory behind the creation of secure data enables trainers to work with IT to create expanded and complex programs for company-wide use. Even without the bells and whistles of some databases, providing this easy method for employees to view their course records will be a sure win for your training department.
Who can see your training files? Do you have any success stories about setting up this type of system or about how it has helped your company? Share your experiences with us so we can use them in a future article.