Friday, 16 March 2012

KS Help Notes_Admin 02_Planning your Assessments



It is important to explain to candidates precisely why you are asking them to undertake a skills assessment. You might do this by including the assessment in a wider discussion about training needs and more efficient use of technology within your company, including training needs, recruitment, induction and annual appraisals processes.

Improving technical software skills is a continuously improving process – the KnowledgeSmart tools simply highlight a likely starting point. As with most things, good communication goes a long way. An effective strategy is to hold a team meeting and explain your overall plans for improving performance within the business. This can include a Q&A session, where people have an opportunity to clarify any aspects of the assessment process – and understand how it fits into the bigger learning picture.

It is important that people don’t feel that the results of their skills evaluation may be used in a negative context, particularly if they don’t perform well first time around. Ensure they understand this is a designed to be a learning process – and everyone has to start somewhere! By taking a snapshot of each individual’s current skills at a basic level, you can feed this data into your training plans moving forwards.

This is not all about who is the smartest, fastest, or best Revit user.  Or the most experienced MicroStation guru; although these are useful things to know.  The real value in the KS tools is trying to help users, at an individual level, identify what they know and also what they need to brush up on next, in order to improve their skills, with a particular piece of software.

Since 2003, KS has facilitated over 25,000 individual test sessions, across hundreds of AEC firms.  Experience has shown that, in general, people don't like the idea of taking a test - at least that's usually how they feel at first.  However, experience has also shown that, for most people, when they complete their assessment, they realise that it wasn't half as bad as they thought it would be! Further, they often learn new skills as they go through the process of answering the questions.  And lastly, they find the feedback and coaching notes extremely helpful, in giving them an unbiased appraisal of their skills using a particular software application - relative to their peers in industry.  It's important that users have the opportunity to review their test scores and feedback with their technology leaders or learning & development leaders.  And it's also important to explain to your users that all scores are confidential.  Best practice would recommend that only senior administrators should have access to firm-wide results data.

Provided you explain to your teams that the main point of rolling out an assessment program is to gather valuable training needs analysis data, rather than a big-brother style exercise in peeking over shoulders, then most users feel OK about the idea. And when you follow through with more focused, modular training workshops, which target recognised skills gaps, then it's a win-win for users and management alike.

Evidence shows that better overall understanding of basic commands can also benefit the implementation of in-house standards. Once you have presented to your teams the case for measuring and improving skills, you need to set a timeframe for rolling out your assessments.


You need to decide over what period of time you want to complete your assessments. This will depend largely on 3 variables; 1) the number of people to be assessed 2) the number of offices in your organisation and 3) general day-to-day work pressures.
You also need to decide what your preferred assessment environment will be. Some companies prefer their teams to use their own work stations, whilst others favour a more formal setting. In truth, there is no right or wrong answer to this question; you want people to feel comfortable and remove any potential for apprehension or pre-assessment nerves.

A formal assessment environment can be helpful, where people simply take an hour or so, away from their desk, at a specified time, to sit their assessment. This way, they aren’t distracted by project work, email, ringing phones or interruptions from colleagues.

For multi-office firms, it is best to start with one location and, when this office is done, gradually ramp up the level of activity until the assessment program is complete. You will need the support of your regional technology co-ordinators if this is to be a success.


We recommend you brief your teams prior to their assessments. You might like to share with them the KS FAQ document and/or KS user video, or perhaps present your plans at a team meeting.  It is best to circulate the information at least day or two before people are due to take their assessments.


Use the inviting tools in the KS admin dashboard to manage your assessment program.  You can send invites individually, or create a longer list of users and invite them in groups.

Next, you may customise your welcome message in the invite mail and on the assessment start page.  You might wish to present users with specific instructions on where to locate their sample files (if you have chosen to store them on your own network, for example).


Monitor your teams as they complete their assessments. Administrators receive an email with a link to test results, as and when they are completed.

You can use the invite history page of your admin dashboard to track invites and completed assessments.  You can also re-send invites from here.


KS administrators can decide how much feedback to present to their users.  At the end of their assessment, candidates may receive an instant result and full summary report with a breakdown of their score, training keywords and coaching notes. In addition, they may be sent an email containing a link to their report.

Account administrators can access all assessment results, feedback, training data and coaching notes – for each candidate – in the KS admin dashboard.

Via the admin dashboard, it is possible to search results, view performance charts and export data into Excel for in-house reports. It is important to provide the opportunity for individuals to access a structured training program, after their skills have been evaluated. The results will highlight areas where future training workshops can be focused for maximum improvement.

It can be helpful to schedule a follow up meeting with KnowledgeSmart, to analyze your results data.  If you work with an external training partner, it is a good idea to ask for their recommendations on post-assessment training activity.


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