We helped Berlitz move their LMS 'house'

Berlitz is the world’s premier language and intercultural communication specialist working in 500 locations in 70 countries, with over 6,000 staff worldwide and nearly 140 years’ experience in helping others to learn.

The Challenge

Berlitz is the world’s premier language and intercultural communication specialist working in 500 locations in 70 countries, with over 6,000 staff worldwide and nearly 140 years’ experience in helping others to learn.

In 2013, the costs charged by Berlitz’s current provider became unsustainable, as did the platform’s outdated functionality such as the reporting suite, which is business critical. Berlitz needed a change, not just to protect training budgets in the short term, but to future proof its L&D offering going forward.

For internal employee learning and development, Berlitz found that it was constrained by a legacy Learning Management System (LMS) that no longer met its needs. But as Liz Thomson, Director of Technology Enhanced Training and Development points out, “Moving LMSs is like moving house” and upgrading was a challenging project for her small team to tackle.

What we did
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The Solution

After looking at a number of proprietary LMS’s and open source platforms including Moodle, Berlitz was attracted to Totara and its continuous, community-led development. An added bonus for Berlitz was the ability to add custom development where required.

“We loved the idea that the system was always evolving based on the needs of its users”

Berlitz was struck by the expertise and professionalism of the team and their tailored approach.

“They really listened to our specific requirements when some other vendors just paid lip service to what we needed.”

Following a formal tender process, Learning Pool was selected due to their insight on how Totara Learn could work for Berlitz, along with a flexible approach and transparent pricing model.

Totara was then configured as the global LMS for Berlitz, with a fully branded and tailored front end, within a timeline of just 11 weeks to be ready in time for the scheduled deactivation of the old system. This required the implementation team to work closely with the Berlitz’s IT department to ensure a smooth launch with no hold-ups.

The Launch

It was important for Berlitz to build anticipation around the launch of the new Totara Learn to help staff feel engaged with the new system and its training content. Three months before the launch, Berlitz began drip feeding out internal communications and, closer to the time, delivered Adobe Connect sessions showcasing the LMS and its benefits for both managers and learners.

Berlitz’s own marketing department also worked closely with Learning Pool to create an appealing front-end design for the system.

“When we launched, people were struck by how much nicer it looked than the old LMS.”

Liz Thomson
Director of Technology Enhanced Training and Development

The pricing was competitive, which is always a key consideration of course. But crucially, it was transparent which created a strong relationship based on trust right from the start.

Results and return on investment

Totara Learn had an immediate impact on Berlitz’s training worldwide. With so many employees to train, the organisation increasingly delivers more virtual training but had never been able to track and manage this properly.

This has all changed now that everything happens within Totara, providing easier access for employees and helping make things as ‘simple and intuitive as possible.’  The new platform has helped to deliver cost savings of over 40,000 USD a year as well as doubling the number of concurrent active users.

Learning Pool has also customised the reporting engine to generate the required management information and analytics at the press of a button. This has saved countless hours of exporting and manipulating data in separate spreadsheets.

The Future

Thomson is excited about the potential of Totara, backed with the ongoing support of the team. Berlitz is now creating mobile-specific learning content that can be responsively delivered via Totara on iOS and Android. The organisation is also exploring using Open Badges to introduce an element of gamification to their training.

The straightforward upgrade process means that Berlitz can introduce new features and functionality when the organisation is ready. Performance appraisals, for example, currently sit in a separate internal system, but Berlitz will be switching to version 2.7 of Totara in order to align appraisals and performance management more closely with learning activity.

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