Accipio + Department for Business & Trade (DBT): “Highly commended” Totara project

Highly commended award | Totara | Learning platform

Leading Government Department almost doubles Totara pages views in a year, to over 560,000

The Department for Business & Trade (DBT) is a department of the United Kingdom government concerned with trade agreements between the United Kingdom and foreign states while promoting foreign investment and export trade. The DBT is one of the newest government departments, founded in 2016 by Theresa May to broker foreign trade deals in light of the UK’s referendum vote to leave the EU. They chose us at Accipio to provide a digital learning platform for them, through Totara.

iPad, Mac and laptop showing mockups of the DBT website (a Moodle site).

The Challenge

As a new organization, the Department for Business & Trade (DBT) had to recruit, onboard and develop 1000’s of people in a very short space of time. They knew that having the right learning technology in place was key to meeting growth demands; they needed a contemporary and dynamic partner that could innovate with them and breath new life into their digital learning, processes and people development.


More specifically, they were looking to:

  • Build a digital learning platform that would command respect from the organisation, and be fit for purpose;
  • Support the whole of their workforce, from apprentices to senior leaders;
  • Reengineer their onboarding processes, create bespoke learning pathways, and automate as much of their manual processes as possible;
  • Create centres of excellence around professions, and devolve ownership for learning content management to parts of the organisation;
  • Create a digital learning strategy that would enable them to create a 21st century virtual learning environment;
  • Outsource much of the management of the LMS, including user support and configuration; and
  • Make the system as user-friendly as possible, and organize and assign the vast array of content from Civil Service Learning.

DBT iPad mockup

What we did

After a competitive tending process, DBT selected Accipio as their partner and decided to invest in Totara Learn because it provided a future-proofed and feature rich base to innovate from. We worked together to reimagine digital learning through a new Totara Learn platform and unlock the true potential of both the LMS and their people.


Key features of the project included:

  • Automated end-to-end onboarding process (‘One DBT Induction’) with different pathways and detailed real time reporting;
  • Personalised and adaptive delivery for different types of users with structured learning pathways, dashboards and dynamic learner segmentation;
  • Gamification through leaderboards, points and other “sticky” features with incentives for learning and sharing (community points) through rewards and recognition (badges and certificates);
  • A dynamic “discover page” with top rated, new, featured, bookmarked and recommended content tailored for your interests;
  • Social learning and the ability to access curated content and the digital learning marketplace, and make sense of Civil Service Learning;
  • An immersive course format, contemporary design and centres of excellence for each profession to manage;
  • A detailed plan with innovative features to make the most of Learning at Work Week;
  • Custom toolkits (e.g. world-class Change Management Framework for different types of users involved in change a various levels);
  • Single-sign-on to improve access and remove the requirement for the learning team to create new user accounts;
  • A requirement to force users to update and maintain their own data to improve reporting and learning allocation; and
  • Created features for senior leaders, including “Senior Leaders Live” (a content curation hub) and Senior Leaders Lounge (a social learning and discussion area).

The results

Over the last year, page views have almost doubled to over 560,000 per annum. Users have grown rapidly (increased by almost two thirds to just under 7,000 users) in the last year as the organisation continues to make the platform the key enabler for learning across the business especially in a post Covid world.

DBT were impressed with our dynamic and innovative approach, and knowledge of how to get the most out of Totara and build a digital learning eco-system.


Freedom to Save

DBT saved considerable time through:

  • Automated onboarding, learning assignment, user creation and content curation;
  • Improved data management and reporting; and
  • Managing much of the end-to-end solution – including learning support – which has freed up in house staff to focus on the business.

Freedom to Learn

Users have the freedom to learn with:

  • The most relevant content being presented to them via push and pull content;
  • Dynamic learning pathways and dashboards which change based on role, profession, directorate, level and interests; and
  • Profession leads owning their content area, allowing them to release their latest insights to their colleagues.


Freedom to Innovate

Totara’s flexible open-source nature has allowed us to develop innovative plugins to tailor the platform for DBT’s unique needs and create a well- received and credible 21st century learning environment which include our LxP functionality for Totara with a discover page, recommendations, social learning, and gamification through leaderboards, points and other “sticky” features with incentives for learning and sharing through rewards and recognition.


Freedom of Choice

DBT had made the most of the competitive partner network to ensure they have a brilliant system, at the right price with world-class responsive support. They are able to continue to test the market every two years in line with government procurement requirements.

Client quotes

“Accipio has been very professional in the work they have delivered, even following up after the launch of the product. A successful project, thank you.” – Poonam – Leadership, Learning & Talent: Department for Business & Trade