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Charles River saves almost $300,000 and 1,000 learning administration hours in one year

Charles River is an American corporation specialising in a variety of preclinical and clinical laboratory services for the pharmaceutical, medical device, and biotechnology industries. 

The Challenge

As Charles River has grown in terms of both the business itself and its customer base, it was becoming increasingly difficult to meet the L&D needs of the organisation and its learners with their previous, rudimentary LMS.

With more than 11,000 employees and thousands more customers globally relying on Charles River for their L&D needs, they needed a new way to ensure that they delivered consistent, compliant training in the heavily regulated life sciences industry.

They decided they needed a modern LMS for all aspects of training, including onboarding, compliance, technical skills, health and safety training, professional development, and employee evaluations, making a robust platform essential.

Additionally, an EU directive was introduced that required Charles River’s employees to be accredited as soon as they joined the company. This was a legal requirement, making finding a new platform that could be used to deliver the necessary courses urgent.

The Solution

Charles River chose to work with Spanish partner Actua Solutions, and opted for Totara Learn as their new learning platform. The Actua Solutions team was quick to understand Charles River’s urgent requirements and support the team with helpful advice and a logical plan for the design, implementation, and launch of the LMS, as well as provide training for Totara Learn and the Storyline e-learning creation software.

While this project originated in Spain, the solution would also be used by teams elsewhere in the EU and in the US, who would be heavy users of the system. The entire implementation process took around six months, including setting up a complex array of features and functionality to suit Charles River’s unique needs.

Totara LMS Dashboard - Charles River

One of the key reasons Charles River chose Totara Learn was the ability to link competencies with programmes, helping them keep track of how people were performing. They also make good use of the reporting functionality to give them a better overview than ever before of how people are interacting with learning material and how they are progressing through the available material. The LMS is used not just by employees, but by external users (‘researchers’) as well.

Charles River also uses the LMS to deliver the accredited courses required by EU law, replacing the expensive and time-consuming face-to-face courses previously in use. The LMS can then award certificates to people who pass the accreditation courses, reducing the learning administration.

Additionally, the US team is making use of Totara’s hierarchies functionality to help them organise and deliver content more efficiently.

The US team also develops content using Storyline, including presentations with videos and innovative 3D renders, as well as PDFs as supporting material. As Charles River operates in the field of animal experimentation, content is often complicated, covering topics such as anaesthesia, physiology, biology, and legislation, making the ability to convey information clearly and accurately of paramount importance.

Recently, Actua Solutions has integrated the Charles River platform to the AALAS Learning Library. Actua Solutions has developed a new activity module that allows users to (auto)login to the AALAS Library course. In addition, the new module connects to the AALAS API in order to import all grades into the Totara platform.

Charles River Totara LMS dashboard

The Results

Charles River launched its LMS, Totara Learn, in Spain in 2014, and in the first year saved approximately €20,000 on training. They have continued to save over €10,000 yearly, making Totara Learn a highly cost-effective solution. Annually, around 200 people in Spain complete accredited courses via Charles River’s Totara Learn.

Upon its US launch in 2016, around 4,000 users accessed the system over the first year and saved approximately $250,000 on training, while reducing over 1,000 hours of learning administration. The US team reports they can now give real-time information to key personnel while centralising the majority of their learning assets.