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What is Performance-based Certification in Customer Education?

Written by Kristine Xu

Published on August 8, 2016

When valuable time is put into developing and selling software and then educating your customers to use it, it’s important to make sure your customers actually learn how to use your software. However, the challenge with any software implementation is making sure users aren't just knowledgeable about using a tool, but that they can perform job tasks with your software.

This is where performance-based certification comes into play. 

Performance-based certification is more than just assessing whether someone has learned how to use your software. It is a means to allow customers to demonstrate proficiency. According to Judith Hale, the author of Performance-Based Certification: How to design a valid, defensible, cost-effective program, performance-based testing allows organizations to “measure learning and determine proficiency or competence.”

This kind of assessment is just like any other kind of testing, except it makes sure the time put into teaching your customers how to use your software doesn’t go to waste. It tests customers on their ability to actually use your software, instead of just regurgitating information. In addition, it also provides feedback about how the software was taught. If customers aren’t completing a performance-based assessment with adequate results, it is a sign that the training was somehow not effective.

Sure, there are many different kinds of certification that software companies can use to assess customers, but performance-based certification is the only one that ensures customers can reproduce the skills they learned in your training. This method is vital because it provides a way of screening out different levels of knowledge, as well as increasing product adoption. The better understanding a customer has means a higher chance that they’ll continue to use the software.

Ultimately, software companies want to help customers be successful by teaching them how to use their software, so that customers renew. It is not enough to educate customers and check that they learned the basics. Since customers are more likely to renew if they are achieving outcomes with your software, software training managers can use performance based certification to verify that customers possess the right skills to use your product correctly and efficiently.

After all, your customers will not renew if they don't know how to use your software.


If you are interested in learning more about how to build performance-based certifications, you should watch a recording of a webinar we did. You should also read the TrueAbility white paper, How to Create a Performance-Based Certification for Software and Technology. The webinar is based on the content of this white paper.

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