Transforming a training department

Woolnough finds out how a Year In Industry student helped a company’s training
department streamline its processes

a business management student at Northumbria University, Katie Russell spent last
year on a Year in Industry placement at engineering company Advantica – part of
the National Grid Transco energy company.

to the training and regulation department within Advantica, she worked on a
project to create an interactive web application allowing customers to access
course training information and book themselves onto courses.

project came about because members of my department were often out of the
offices, travelling across the country delivering courses,” says Russell. “If a
customer had a query or wished to book themselves onto a course, they would
telephone or e-mail the department. Some customers started to become frustrated
as they were not getting instantaneous responses to their queries.”

was helping her supervisor deal with any training queries, creating reports of
what training was needed and booking people onto courses. This entailed
compiling lists of whose training was running out, informing the employee’s
manager and then waiting for the manager to say what training was needed and
who should get it. This was a lengthy process that took nearly three weeks and
Russell noticed that she kept receiving the same queries.

a result, a few months into her placement, Russell suggested that an
interactive web site that enabled users to input the necessary information
would save time for the department and ensure employees requiring training got
a speedier response.

was decided that the web application would improve efficiency as all of the
information customers need would be up to date and available to them
straightaway,” explains Russell. “This was not only to improve efficiency, but
also customer relations within our department.”

employees can now view live data that tells them when their training expires.
Training courses can be viewed by region and employees are able to book courses
online. The form verifies and checks the inputted data and then e-mails the
training department with the information.

system has also freed up time in the training department as there is no longer
the need to write up time consuming reports to send to managers. Russell says
it has reduced the number of repetitive tasks the training department has to
deal with as many training queries can be answered without contacting a member
of staff. “For example, we do not need to inform managers when members of their
team need training as managers can log on and see for themselves,” she says.

found the placement very useful in terms of looking at how a business operates
and how different departments are run. “I didn’t expect to learn as much as I
did during my year with Advantica,” she says. “I feel this will help me during
my course because what I learn at university is mainly theory from a textbook.
And after my year out, I can now see how this theory can be put into practice
in a real company.”

not really been aware of how HR contributes to an organisation prior to her
placement, Russell now thinks it is about equipping people with the skills they

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