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Ministry for Primary Industries cuts administration time by consolidating three platforms into one LMS

New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) helps maximise export opportunities for the country’s primary industries, increase sustainable resource use and protect New Zealand from biological risk.

MPI employs more than 2,200 staff. With 70 locations nationwide, MPI has specialist people working where they're needed – from visible teams at international airports and seaports, to those in offices and laboratories.

The Challenge

Having previously used another learning management system, MPI needed to find a new platform with more functionality for the organisation. As a diverse organisation, MPI wanted an LMS which would be suitable for people of all ages and all levels of technical proficiency, meaning it needed to be user friendly and flexible. The LMS also needed to make it easy to deliver content to learners in a wide range of roles, from office-based employees to quarantine officers.

MPI were previously using three platforms, but wanted to move to one single sign-on solution to reduce administration and to increase efficiency across the organisation.

The Solution

Following an extensive procurement process, MPI decided to partner with founding Totara Partner Kineo to deliver their LMS, along with fellow founding Partner Catalyst for the technical implementation.

Many departments across the New Zealand government work with Kineo and Catalyst for their LMS platform Totara Learn, with Catalyst already hosting several government agencies, making this the ideal partnership for MPI.

MPI LMS home

Kineo and Catalyst worked to provide a solution whereby MPI’s three existing platforms could be consolidated into one which would be accessed by all employees. This made the system more user friendly as learners didn’t have to remember multiple logins, and it ensured the learning experience remained more consistent. Kineo’s work on the UX and look and feel was crucial to the overall success of the project.

Security is of the utmost importance for government departments. The LMS is internally hosted, and Catalyst worked with MPI IT provider to setup the infrastructure. A single sign-on (SSO) solution was implemented which integrated with MPI’s central authentication service. This provided users with transparent authentication via Active Directory within the organisation and RealMe (New Zealand public identity provider) for external users. This customisation also allowed central control of user roles, outside the the LMS.

“The fresh theming of the LMS and having single sign on are big draw cards for staff within the business. One of the other benefits is having a daily HR sync which means records and reporting lines are current and it enables managers to monitor staff learning.” - Vanessa Ross, Team Manager, Ministry for Primary Industries

Another customisation connected Totara Learn to MPI’s information bus to allow user account provisioning from HR data sources. As the implementation of this architecture was a first for MPI, many technical challenges were overcome through joint working of all parties to produce a successful technical solution.

The LMS was launched in two phases. The first phase focused on the initial implementation and API work. The second phase focused on the external SSO.

MPI has also been very happy with the technical and non-technical support received from Kineo and Catalyst throughout the project.

Ministry of Primary Industries MPI LMS

The Results

MPI says that Totara Learn is a vast improvement over their previous learning management system, and they have received excellent feedback about the fresh look and feel. They like that there is now consistency throughout the system, and users have responded that the LMS is far more user friendly and intuitive than the previous solution. As well as this, significantly more people have access to the new platform, enabling MPI to reach more people with their learning.

Today MPI's site has 3,300 users with over 300 online courses. Over the last 12 months, they have had 41,000 login events.

Managers have also given excellent feedback, saying that it has improved the face-to-face booking experience, moving from spreadsheets and email to Totara Learn’s inbuilt face-to-face system, which has saved administration time and made the process smoother and more manageable.