Increasing flexibility and efficiency

The MBCC Group is one of the world’s largest construction chemicals companies, with worldwide sales of approximately £2.2 billion. It employs around 7,500 people across more than 130 production facilities in 60 countries.

A series of acquisitions and mergers had created a complex landscape of legacy IT systems. With various HR systems in use across the group, creating a unified, group-wide learning management system presented a major challenge.

The HR import functionality of the MBCC Group’s Totara Learn LMS could not handle via a single import the inconsistent structure of the data being generated.

An additional complication was that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the MBCC Group started delivering customer training to 12,000 clients around the world via Totara Learn. This created yet more data sources.

All of this had resulted in a laborious process of manually processing data from multiple HR systems in order to import it to Totara Learn.

The MBCC Group approached us with an idea for bespoke development to overcome this problem and automate user data. We were tasked with:

  • Automating a consistent feed of user data from the various different sources.
  • Allowing various data structures to be mapped to a standard Totara user profile.
  • Automating job assignments based on information stored in user profiles to support reporting and learning management.

Transforming data to create consistent user profiles

We worked with the MBCC Group to understand how the custom functionality would be used and to refine the plan to make it as effective and efficient as possible.

With an agreed approach in place, we developed a user processing plugin to manage data from multiple sources across the group. Using predefined templates, the plugin ensures all user data is collected in a consistent format. Data is uploaded to Totara Learn via a single HR import — a vast improvement on the previous process of time-consuming manual data processing.

The plugin prevents data from being processed if it is in the wrong format or if required information is missing. It also transforms source data into the correct format.

This process extends to customer training. The MBCC Group now has confidence that the user data collected from customers will upload smoothly to the LMS.

With a system in place to quickly and efficiently create and manage users in Totara Learn, we were able to use the new, consistent feed of user data as the basis for a job assignment processor, which allows the MBCC Group to automate job assignments for specific user groups based on their user profile data.

As a result, they can now automatically assign a line manager to each user in order to use Totara Learn’s line manager functionality, which means data from multiple sources can be managed at tenant level to improve the accuracy of learning management and reporting.

Creating and managing users faster and more efficiently

Managing user information was previously a painstaking task for the MBCC Group. The custom plugins we developed have generated significant savings of time, resources and money across the group.

The MBCC Group can now quickly and easily access reporting relating to very specific areas of its operations, which was not feasible before. That has a huge impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of compliance, audits and learning management.

There are plans for a further stage of development to allow organisation-wide changes to be made instantly based on the user reports generated as a result of the new plugins. In the meantime, the MBCC Group can enjoy the benefits of diverting its learning and development resources away from data processing and into content creation and other initiatives.

“It was great working with Synergy Learning. They challenged me instead of just nodding and saying ‘yes’. Together, we turned my raw ideas into a solution that was way beyond my expectations. The core strength of Totara is flexibility. Now, this flexibility is also available for user management, leveraging the whole platform to a new level.”

Timo Meyer | Training & Development

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