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Case Study: Taking the Strain out of Administration


Faced with an orgnisational mish-mash of paper records and no less than 20 databases, Thomas Telford Training turned to an electronic training administration system to help it plan strategically for the future.

Thomas Telford Training (TTT) is a training company wholly owned by the Institution of Civil Engineers - the professional body for 80,000 civil engineers in the UK. It provides training for a range of professionals in the construction industry, including civil engineers, architects and project managers. Based at Canary Wharf, TTT runs courses all over the UK and a small number overseas. It provides both commissioned in-house training and public courses, mainly run in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Scotland.

TTT offers courses towards professional development qualifications, through formal exams, for people to be qualified as civil engineers, as well as management development programmes. The range of courses on offer is niche but run regularly. Its courses are numerous but not run very often, as opposed to a few courses run all the time.

Following the recent Egan report on the UK construction industry, a lot of interest has been generated in how skills in the industry will be increased and developed in the future. This provided TTT with a strong basis on which to plan its future strategy and growth for the business.

The existing training administration system that TTT had in place consisted of nearly 20 different databases, including separate systems for different courses, trainers and venues that were not synchronised. “Storing information in such a disparate architecture meant that it was very difficult to extract the management information we needed to analyse the business, therefore creating a barrier to expansion,” comments Mike Cookson, general manager at TTT. “Previously, our data would only be up-to-date first thing in the morning, meaning that we were unable to track changes and occurrences as they happened during the day. It was totally unsupported which meant that if it crashed, we didn’t even know if we would be able to start it up again.”

In 2002, TTT decided to address these needs, and opted to buy an external solution that would enable it to have more control over its administration and planning data. It selected the CourseBooker training administration solution from Consensus IT to offer greater visibility of this information and to manage its whole administration function much more efficiently.

The new system sends out instructions by email automatically. All information is in real time, showing, for example, how much of one course has been sold, or how much one customer has booked and enabling TTT to analyse patterns and trends and therefore can plan more accurately for the future. It is also integrated with the accounts department, meaning that customer invoices can be automatically generated from the original booking, rather than accounts having to input the data again.

Instead of buying a customised product, TTT purchased an off-the-shelf version and modified its processes to fit with the system. One innovation that TTT has made itself, is to integrate CourseBooker with its own website. All of the company’s course and training information is now available online and this information is populated from data held in CourseBooker. This requires the data to be held in a single location, rather than several different ones. Real-time course availability and booking has been enabled through this project that has assisted TTT with its growth plans.

“The management information we can now extract is fantastic, we can see who is doing what, why and when. This is invaluable to our business as we constantly strive to meet our business challenges,” comments Cookson.


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