Saba Analytics Maximums

As of October 2016 Saba Cloud has the following minimums, maximums and defaults.

Report Type Rows Max Rows Default Filter Min Filter Max Filter Default Dimensions Min Dimensions Max Dimensions Default Metrics Min Metrics Max Metrics Default
Flat List 100,000 10,000 1 20 12 1 20 17 1 10 5
Crosstab 50,000 10,000 1 20 12 2 2 1 1
Group Note 2 50,000 10,000 1 20 12 1 20 5 1 5 5
Hierarchy Note 2 50,000 10,000 1 20 12 1 20 5 1 5 5
Data Extract Note 3 1,000,000 100,000 N/A N/A N/A 1 50 40 N/A N/A N/A


  1. Max. 100 rows can be viewed in the report viewer.
  2. Grouping levels – Up to 5 dimensions
  3. To increase this value, submit a support request. For assistance, contact Saba Support.


  • 15 records per portlet Default 10
  • NOTE: Max. 8 portlets for a dashboard. Default 6

Using QR codes for attendance tracking

It is possible to generate QR codes for any URL or text stream.
You just need to know the URL or text that you want to encode.

What URL or text do you want to encode for attendance tracking?
A QR code for registering attendance would be based on the course and the person since both pieces of information are required in th URL passed to Saba as an attendance record.

If you want a single code to record attendance at multiple courses, a QR code may not help you any more than a bar code with the employee number or LMS username.

If you use an existing employee badge, you could just map the employee number/badge number to the Saba username and add the course info create an attendance to upload.

With a QR, you would still have to decode the URL to get the person id and then merge it with the course to get a record that you could upload as a transcript.

There are off-the-shelf products to record attendance based on bar codes and QR images. These can record duration as well as simple attendance.
You still need to do the mapping of the “Atandance at what event” part if your bar code or QR code just includes the employee identification. is an article that explains QR codes and discusses some of the limitations.
The big one is the need for a steady image which may be hard to do for the person taking attendance. Bar codes have so much more redundancy in the signal that they can capture data from a moving bar code (grocery store checkout) which might be easier for an instructor who is standing in a doorway trying to scan badges quickly as people walk by.

Making a short list of LMS candidates

Frequently, we see requests for suggestions about the “right” LMS in LinkedIn and other social forums. Often the only detail will be the industry in which the company fits.

With over 350 LMSs available, the discussion degenerates into “My LMS will fit your needs, call me or visit our web site.”

People seeking advice from a community should add a few more details about what they want by laying down some business requirements.

  • Do you want to sell courses or certifications?
  • Do you need to handle certification?
  • Do you need to track or issue PDUs or CEUs?
  • Are all your learners employees?
  • Do you need to interface to your HRIS system?
  • Do you need to have version control on courses and certifications?
  • Do you need sophisticated testing and assessment integrated in the LMS?
  • Do you want to install it on your own hardware or have the vendor host it.
  • What are all the offering types that you need to support:
  • WBT built internally, courses hosted on external course providers, classroom (Physical and virtual), resource to read or fill out(PDF, text, spreadsheets), podcasts, video, OJT or projects whose grades must be tracked, tests and assessments,

This is not an exhaustive list of features but it includes most of the function requirements that separate the contenders from the “also-rans”.

Artifact can supply a full RFP template that contains a long list of features that can serve as part of a contracting document.

Many of the features will be provided by all 350+ LMS systems so is not a good way to construct a short list.

Identifying the key functions that you need to support the business processes that you need is a much more efficient way to start.

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Is the Training Manager role obsolete?

Training managers in corporate Learning and Development (L&D) departments are facing a number of threats to the continued need for their traditional services in organizations:

  • The tools available in LMSs are getting easier for managers to use. Setting up training courses, assigning staff to training activities and many of the functions that used to require intervention from the central L&D department are now being done by the managers.
  • External libraries of courses can be accessed from the corporate LMS or purchsed and uploaded into the LMS. This reduces the need for custom courses.
  • The authoring tools for courses are getting better and everyone is a videographer so subject matter experts can create a lot of their own courses and learning content for courses. This is reduces the need for L&D to develop courses and assets
  • There is an increasing interest in informal learning and LMSs such as Saba are including support for this and making it easy for managers to setup groups and provide assets for these communities without the involvement of L&D.

This raises the question “Wha should I be doing to ensure that my job is seen to be relevant and adding value to the organization?”.

My suggestion is to leverage the knowledge about your company and work your way up the food chain.

  • Become an expert in instructional design to support the internal SMEs and to evaluate vendors better. Build a corporate library of reusable assets and make these known to internal SMEs and vendors. Offer training sessions and workshops to SMEs to help them design better courses and understand the principles of ID. Keep people updated on your asset library and encourage SMEs to contribute assets to the library. Offer your services to acquire stock assets and manage the licenses of products purcahsed so you do not end up with expensive cliams for misuse of stock images and videos.
    Make sure that photos and videos acquired or created as part of marketing or corporate public relations are licensed for use in training and get them into your library.
  • Become an expert on aligning L&D activities with company and department mandates. This means reaching out to department managers in a proactive way rather than waiting for them to show up with a training requirement. Help them evaluate the training requirement that are raised by changes to their mission or performance goals. Help them evaluate areas where L&D activities can make a difference. Be aware of the courses that are available internally or from external vendors that can be easily integrated with the LMS.
  • Become an expert in curriculm and certification development to help managers define their training needs better and use the LMS more effectively to manage their teams’ L&D progress.
  • Become an expert in competency management to act as a consultant to departments that are having problems with performance or on-boarding.

These are some ideas about how L&D organizations can reengineer their service offerings to stay relevant in a rapidly changing environment.

LMS Implementation Costs for SaaS

Although the systems are getting easier to configure and the SaaS fees continue to fall, you still need to train the Administrator and get the system configured.
Most of the training has nothing to do with “Go to this screen and fill in this form and press Save”. It is more at the strategic level and making the client’s system administrator, IT staff, compliance teams and senior managemt comfortable with the choices that have to be made.

This system will become the companies first or second most-used employee application and should become the central way that the company communicates with its employees and possibly its partners and customers.

The project is often the first time that the implementation team from the user side has worked together. You have IT people who have not given much thought about competencies, SCORM, support for external users, etc. working with people whose computer knowledge ends at MS-Office and have never gone through an implementation of an LMS.

In some cases, none of them have been involved in the requirements and selection process.
The first meeting just walks everyone through the project organization – goals, plan, team introduction and roles.
There are meetings on each of the major functional areas and out of these meetings, there may be mini-projects about SSO, sources of user profiles, transformations and error removal in existing records, validation scripts for acceptance tests, integration of third party content, SCORM problems caused by authoring tools and publishing choices, VLE integration, catalog loading, transcript conversion, reporting, etc.
There can be discussions about eCommerce strategies – discounts, coupons, pricing. Often the customer has not yet fleshed out the business case and is seeking an education about best practices more than technical capability.
The handling of internal users, consultants and external users may also come up.

You often have to go through a long discussion about alternative ways to structure things before clicking a small set of checkboxes. This may involve multiple meetings with different stakeholders being brought into the discussion.
It is not the clicking on the checkboxes that the client is paying for.

In a SaaS environment there is coordination with SaaS operations to make sure that test environments are set up, backed up and refreshed when required.
Configurations that require SaaS operations involvement has to be coordinated.

For the customer, the implementation is usually a once in a career activity and it is important for it to be successful since it has high visibility.

For the vendor’s installation team, each project draws upon the experience of previous projects and we bring the “lessons learned” from those projects.

At the end of the process, we have transferred as much of this knowledge and experience as possible to the client.

As SaaS with per-user pricing makes the on-going cost of the SaaS service affordable for every company – who can not pay $20-$30 per year per employee? – and the top LMS products are going to be adopted by companies that could never have thought about this before.
With respect to consulting costs, the improvement in LMS configuration functionality is offset by the growing complexity of the environment and the increased client expectations.

The cost of the implementation may be a barrier at the small end.
The ROI calculation has to be made with all of the costs in mind.

On the other hand, the cost savings in a single area such as compliance management or risk mitigation can be compelling even for a small company.

Artifact Software has developed a flexible implementation plan based on the user’s requirements that we can determine during the sales cycle. This removes the cost associated with optional items that the client does not need.

Benefits of Blended Learning

Many people are looking at instructor led training (physical and virtual) and asynchronous training as a choice.
It is best thought of as palette of ingredients for a recipe where the instructor blends activities from both to make a nutricious and delicious meal for the students.

Blended virtual learning has lots of benefits:

  • better use of instructors time
    • information transfer best done through asynchronous courses
    • LVC time used for coaching and discussion and interactive activities
    • on-line assessment removes marking from instructor
  • better student experience
    • new material and remedial courses at theh student’s pace
    • students do not get left behind
    • more smaller assessments, marked instantly so student’s can guage their own progress quicker and more completely
    • more time for interaction with instructors and peers
    • more peer to peer coaching – VLC breakout rooms as well as forums,etc.
  • organization
    • easier scheduling
      • no travel time
      • can break activities into smaller chunks
    • lower cost
      • no travel
      • no physical facility
    • less disruption to productivity
      • small blocks
      • asynchronous can be deferred to meet urgent needs.
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Effective Presentations

We are often involved in discussions about how to make virtual classroom sessions interesting and effective.

The article How to Give a Killer Presentation  by Chris Anderson from the Harvard Business Review June 2013 issue takes the reader back to the basic prerequisite for delivering interesting presentations. The ideas apply regardless of the delivery platform.

  • Frame your story – make sure that you have something interesting to say
  • Plan your delivery – know your story and don’t be in the position of having to read notes or look at a teleprompter
  • Develop Stage Presence – practice stillness and eye contact.
  • Plan the multimedia – don’t overuse and avoid using media of yourself – you are already live!

This is a pretty sparce summary of the ideas in the article and it is a good written presentation.

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Funding for MOOCs

MOOCs (Massive Open On-line Courses) are going to be a big part of the education landscape for the next decade. The idea of bringing high quality education to the world is too powerful to be ignored.

One of the questions that organizations and interested educators are trying to solve, is the question of funding the operation of a provider of MOOCs. I have identified some ideas about the possible sources of funding that can be sought for funding this.

First of all it should be noted that not all providers will be universities but the universities do have a lot of the talent with recognized credentials.

Independent experts who are well-known in their fields will get together with top-notch instructors.
MOOC companies will be formed around specific areas of interest that physical campuses have a hard time getting a critical mass at one time.
Universities tend to be program oriented, MOOCs are student oriented – find a demand and fill it, then move on if the demand is no longer there.

Funding will come from foundations who have a mandate to solve certain problems.

Alumni are a big source of funding for universities. It could also be a big source for providers of MOOCs.
Three years from now when a 100,000 IT graduates are making money from the courses that you provided, you can ask them to become sustaining alumni at $100 per year – $10,000,000 from the equivalent of 5 -10 full-time instructors.

Advertising and sponsored courses – Pharmaceutical companies sponsoring medical and pharmacy courses – Car companies and aftermarket suppliers will sponsoring automotive electronics training. CAD software vendors will want to sponsor mechanical engieering courses.
If you can promise a company 100,000 eyeballs that all have a need of your product and are going to be strong influencers once they complete the courses, you will find a way to negotiate a good price.

Donations – if you have a course with 100,000 students and you ask the people to donate $2 and only half of them do, you still have a pretty good revenue stream for the investment..

I am not worried that MOCCs will struggle.
Different providers will find different ways to get their funding.

Source control for eLearning projects

eLearning projects usually consist of a large number of assets and configuration files. These need to be stored and managed in a way that permits controlled access as well as the ability to manage versions properly.

SCM (software configuration management) products are normally used to manage software projects but do have all the tools required.

  • Access control with password protection
  • Version control so you can keep track of version and work on a new version of a course while doing maintenance on the current version. Past versions can be checked out so you can go back to any older version to look at some assets.
  • History with each update so you can tell who changed things
  • Checkout/checkin with collision detection so you can catch the situation where 2 people changed the same file so that the work of the first person to commit changes, are not overwritten by the second person, accidently.

There are number of different version control systems available. Subversion is one of the big ones that has been around for a while.

Git and Mecurial are newer ones. Microsoft has one. CVS is an older one that is still used but has lost a lot of its following as the newer approaches came into style.

We started with CVS and moved to Subversion 5-6 years ago.

These run on servers but have Windows client applications that make the library look a bit like a disk on your PC. You can drag projects into a local directory to check them out.

Your IT infrastructure team or software development  may be willing to set you up with a repository dedicated to Learning and Development

There are hosting sites that can provide a private repository as well. offers Subversion or Git. for a pretty small monthlly charge.
Watch for storage costs if your courses include a lot of video or audio assets that will take up a lot of space.


Other less functional approaches can be put together using CMS systems (WordPress, Sharepoint, etc.) or Wikis. They will have some of the features of a SCM but not all.

Customization vs Configuration in an LMS

It is important to differentiate between “customization” and “configuration”.
Customization implies changing code which makes support and upgrading difficult and requires some level on in-house or contracted expertise available to mediate between the vendor and the administrators.
Configuration imples that the application’s behaviour can be changed by tools that can be used by a non-technical administrator without affecting the core software. The configuration is usually stored in the database or in configuration files that can be upgraded automatically when new versions are installed.

As the products in the LMS marketplace mature, the need for customization is decreasing as it become possible to make significant changes in functionality and user experience through configuration,
The challenge in designing configuration parameters is to determine the range of behaviour required and to control the complexity of the configuration process.

For SaaS vendors such as Saba that have come from the BTF market where customization was common, there is a real need to provide configuration features that work so that the complexity of their hosting operations does not kill them with support costs and reliability issues.
As LMS (and other applications) move to the cloud, the ability to provide custom behaviour through configuration rather than customization will grow.
Saba has made great progress with the current 6.1 version and the new SEC 7.0 release, by taking a very detailed look at what types of customizations their customers had done in the past and making it possible to achieve the same functionality adjustments through configuration.