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Northumberland County Council reduce the cost of training delivery by a staggering 80%

For years providing effective and efficient learning and development solutions for 6,000 staff across Northumberland County Council proved to be a real challenge.

With a large geographical area to serve and a legacy of separate databases and platforms, the capture of training data was time consuming and often unreliable.

Northumberland’s Learning and Organisational Development team recognised that they needed to develop a different learning culture and architecture which could provide ‘fit for purpose’ training. 

They also found themselves more frequently in conversations about talent management and performance appraisal and the need for a cost-effective, flexible solution to meet this challenge.

Northumberland County Council LMS device and logo

Totara Solution

Totara Platinum Partner Learning Pool offered a tailored solution to meet all of Northumberland’s needs, including a sophisticated learning management system, Totara Learn.

Paul Brooks, Learning & Organisational Development Manager, explains why Totara ticked all the boxes, as well as delivering guaranteed savings through online training:

  • Extensive support with a dedicated Learning Consultant, site administration and unlimited help desk access to ensure success of the project
  • The ability to actively manage team development with individual development plans and programme management
  • Having one central place for learning and improving consistency of delivery
  • Updates are made to content quickly and easily, saving time and money
  • Access for partners who are not on the council’s corporate network.

I had a tall order, with a specific list of requirements. It wasn't an option to recommend a traditional LMS that would take months to implement, require IT support and have a potential six-figure price tag. I needed to make an impact quickly and cost-effectively. - Paul Brooks, Learning & Organisational Development Manager


In just one year, Northumberland County Council has revolutionised its approach to learning and development and has reduced the cost of delivery by a staggering 80%.

With the increased efficiencies provided, training has cost on average £4 per employee per hour. Because of this overall 80% reduction in costs, the council is now able to provide even more training to its staff.

Massive savings have been achieved through a combination of using:

  • Online training (over 10,000 hours of classroom delivery saved)
  • Self-service functionality for course bookings (over 1,200 hours of administration time saved)
  • Bespoke content creation (over 20 hours of content developed)
  • Reduction in CO2 omissions and fuel savings, all whilst improving consistency and scalability.


​Rapid Deployment

It took just a few months for the team to roll out their new bespoke system, with a library of customised content, setting up 5,800 accounts for staff, all with individual learning plans. 

With an average of over 500 logins per week, Paul notes that both subject matter experts and employees love the new system.

After searching online for flexible and scalable learning solutions, we discovered the LMS, Totara Learn, provided by Totara Platinum Partner Learning Pool. I was blown away with what I saw and experienced. It's incredibly intuitive and very easy to administer with no hidden charges or set-up fees. - Paul Brooks, Learning & Organisational Development Manager

It's not just the savings

Since implementation, the entire culture of the council has shifted.The future with Totara Learn will allow the team to engage with employees, meeting the challenge to secure the talent needed to do more with less - all with the added benefit of a highly motivated workforce.

One new feature the team is excited about is implementing a new online appraisal process through Totara, which will link individual performance objectives with individual and team L&D plans. The 360 degree feedback tool provides individuals with the ability to proactively receive objective performance feedback and how their managers, peers and customers feel that they demonstrate the competencies set by the organisation.

Now almost all initiatives are accompanied by a Learning Pool course and training within the council is a far more efficient and positive experience.

I'm excited about the future of Totara. The additional functionality means we will be able to enhance our learners' training experience and give them control over their own development paths. - Paul Brooks