Creating certificates is a time-consuming job that most trainers dislike.

Where I work there are some applications and IT systems that require users to have attended a training course before they are granted access to the system and the course certificate is the proof that they have attended.

I work for a team that provides a global training service. Since January I have been delivering Service Management and Remedy training on a weekly basis to our 3rd Party support companies that are based offshore, mainly in India.

It’s not uncommon for these courses to have 25 or more delegates on them. In fact, as I write this blog post, I know that tomorrow I’m delivering 2 x 90 minutes courses with 25 delegates on each course. I also know that most of the delegate’s names are, for me anyway, extremely difficult to pronounce and even more difficult to write.

It was after spending a frustrating hour manually typing up 20 certificates after one of these courses that I decided to create CertificateMaker.

The requirement was straightforward. I needed to create a system whereby, at the click of a button a set of certificates for a given course could be generated and either printed (and handed out to delegates at the end of the course) or emailed (to each delegate after the course).

The delegate details (name and email address) and course details (title, date and trainer name) are already stored in our customer management and booking system (essentially a database with a pretty web-based front-end) and as the architect and developer of the system, I am more than familiar with it’s data structure.

We already had a certificate document which we’d been using for several months since the team went through a rebranding process, however, the person who created it had done it as a PowerPoint document.

My first thought was to recreate the certificate in Word and then use VBA to automate a mailmerge process, however, I decided against re-creating it in Word as regardless of whether the certificate was a PowerPoint or Word document, it would require a fair amount of VBA coding to fully automate the process and I knew from past experience that for the email element, I’d need some extra VBA code to split the single document that is generated from a mailmerge into individual documents that could be emailed to the individual delegates.

Simply put…my coding skills are better than my creative design skills.

After a couple of days of coding and battering down the brick walls that I’d hit, I distributed CertificateMaker Beta 1 to my colleagues for testing and after a few tweaks and bug fixes it was ready for use.

It’s really simple to use…

Opening the PowerPoint document and running the CertificateMaker macro displays a tabbed dialog box.

The Course tab contains a drop down list that contains the names of the trainers:

Select a Trainer

Selecting the name of the trainer will display a list of all courses that were delivered by that trainer. It is also filtered to only display the courses delivered in the past 7 days, which encourages trainers to send out their certificates in a timely manner.

A neat enhancement that I added was a “certificates done” indicator. Once certificates have been generated for a course, a marker appears next to the course title which enables you to see, at a glance, whether the certificates for a given course have been generated.

Select Course

Select a course and click the Delegates tab to display a list of all the delegates for the selected course. At this point it is possible to remove any delegates who did not attend the course (the data is being pulled into PowerPoint directly from the booking system database and sometimes the trainer has to generate the certificates before the database has been updated with details of no-shows).

Select Delegates

Finally click the Output tab. There are two buttons on this tab.

Output

Clicking the Generate and Email button will create a PDF copy of the certificate for each delegate and automatically send this to each delegate’s Outlook mailbox. Clicking the Generate and Print button will create one slide per delegate. Each slide will be identical apart from the delegate name. You can then print the slides in the usual way.

Whether I have 25 delegates or 2 delegates, thanks to CertificateMaker, the time-consuming task of generating certificates for delegates is a thing of the past.