Driving effective learning through a flexible CRM solution and HR/learning portals

“The solution has fundamentally changed the way we operate as a service area within Merseytravel. In the Learning Team we are able to be much more effective and efficient. The solution is absolutely fantastic, both on the back end CRM side and the front end portal because it is so intuitive to our customer’s needs.”

Stephanie Hague, Head of Learning, Merseytravel

Merseytravel is the operating name for Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority. The company has the responsibility of planning, delivering and maintaining all network transport across Merseyside.

Merseyside’s vision is to be a world class organisation delivering world class transport. With its people at the heart of its success, it employs over 900 people across many diverse job roles, including many shift and peripatetic workers. In its role Merseytravel oversees bus, rail and ferry services and the maintenance of network infrastructure such as the Mersey road tunnels.

Delivering big efficiency cost savings across the business

Merseytravel offers a diverse and varied range of training classes to meet the needs of its staff. This includes everything from time management and inter-personal skills, report writing, functional skills and IT and end user training. In addition, it includes more technical training such as confined space training for the tunnel maintenance team and its non-Home Office Police Force.

As in many public sector organisations, Merseytravel was faced with the prospect of making big efficiency cost savings across the business. The Learning Team, with its responsibility for the delivery of the learning and development needs of staff across the organisation, was looking to automate many of its heavy paper-based business processes as well as to reduce duplication of effort.

At the same time, a new approach to HR and learning had recently been introduced with the aim of giving line managers more responsibility for the management of their own staff, but the existing solution did not give staff the ability to access and share information. Managers were very dependent on the Learning Team for hard copies of documents and reports. Stephanie Hague, Head of Learning at Merseytravel, said, “Our team tends to run anything from 20 programmes each with eight to 15 attendees. The challenge was managing this process and automating it, so that we could free up some of the staff time in the team; there are only three of us. We were spending too much time and resources on external trainers because we were bogged down with administration.” The Learning Team’s aim was to reduce the use of external trainers for 70% of its learning delivery needs to 40%, and deliver 60% internally. Hague explained further, “We needed this shift of focus away from external trainers because that fitted into our efficiency savings that we needed to make. In order to do that we needed a much more automated approach.” This cultural change programme included a shift to a more self-service accessibility.

In addition, much of Merseytravel’s business is focused on adherence to health and safety laws. Many of its employees are classed as high risk because they work in areas of transport like tunnels and ferries, and in order to look after passengers the organisation has to make sure that its staff are consistently within date on all their health and safety training. Merseytravel therefore needed an automated system with alerting features that ensured staff stayed compliant with legal and statutory requirements.

Merseytravel’s core requirements for a new system included flexibility, adaptability, a user-friendly interface, value for money and overall efficiency savings. Vitally important, a new system would need to visibly demonstrate to its public sector stakeholders its ability to support cost savings and efficiencies, as well as improved productivity.

"We were spending too much time and resources on external trainers because we were bogged down with administration."

A flexible solution to drive efficiency savings

Incremental was selected by Merseytravel to deliver the solution. Incremental was selected due to its flexibility, its proven delivery capabilities and the HR and learning portals that would help to enhance the end user experience. In addition, Merseytravel already used Microsoft technology such as Outlook, so it made sense to used Microsoft Dynamics as a CRM solution.

Incremental worked closely with Merseytravel to take the project forward and develop a Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution to link in with HR and learning portal platforms. Due diligence was a critical part of this development programme. As a result many of the paper-based business processes in the Learning Team were effectively streamlined.

At the core of the solution is the Microsoft Dynamics CRM which stores and updates the employee data and all their learning records and requests. It allows the Learning Team to manage the automation of all relevant information, for example email alerting for confirmations, course information and cancellations, as well as the evaluation process which helps to measure the return on investment since staff attended a course.

At the front end of the solution is the self-service portals which are designed for employees to access directly. The self-service approach to learning means that all staff can access their own learning records. The system highlights the refresher dates needed for obligatory courses and this information is also detailed via the back office at the CRM allowing the Learning Team to monitor what training needs are coming up before certificates expire.

Users can view the Learning Calendar which details courses for which staff can then request attendance. If authorised the employee receives an automated email confirmation to let them know that the course has been approved. A red, amber and green system is used for training alerts to show what is coming, whether it has been completed or is still outstanding. In addition, it lists out memberships of professional bodies that staff are a part of.

“The solution has fundamentally changed the way we operate as a service area within Merseytravel. In the Learning Team we are able to be much more effective and efficient. The solution is absolutely fantastic, both on the back end CRM side and the front end portal because it is so intuitive to our customer’s needs.”

A wide range of benefits for the learning teams, employees and managers

The Learning Team:

  • Improved efficiency by providing a single view of the employee’s learning in one system
  • Streamlined and automated key business processes
  • Increased productivity when managing course attendance
  • Accurate reporting in a timely fashion helps to comply to stakeholder community
  • Evaluate results very quickly and easily
  • Ability to deliver a more comprehensive service to internal clients because paper trails have been eradicated.


  • Increased visibility with view of pending and completed learning records
  • Enhanced usability where users are empowered to take control of their own Learning and Development journey
  • Very user-friendly interface
  • Easy to submit learning evaluations online
  • Ability to request cancellations online.


  • More ownership and responsibility of staff training and their learning and development provision and journey
  • Ability to plan and prioritise staff work loads, resources and allocations
  • Ability to approve or reject learning requests and cancellations with simplified online process.
  • Increased visibility of learning activities and results
  • Focused portals available to all users
  • Foundation for self-service access
  • Increased business process efficiency and accuracy

A strong relationship

With regards to working with Incremental in the future, Stephanie Hague, Head of Learning said “They are an excellent organisation and for this type of project, I would not only recommend Incremental but would also work with them again.”

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