A Canadian Web-based tool has been teaching organizations how to build an IT system without their IT department.

Brentwood, Tenn.-based oil refinery Delek US Holdings Inc. recently built a comprehensive human resource management system using an online development tool from Udutu, an e-learning technology and services provider based in Victoria.

Delek’s Hiring, Orientation and Training (HOT) system is a fully automated, interactive talent management system that covers the entire HR process from application assessment and hiring to orientation, training, career path management, succession planning and off-boarding, explained Gary Baker, director of training at Delek US, which also operates a chain of 349 convenience stores across the U.S.

The whole system was built from scratch, Baker said, but with the easy interface enabled by Udutu’s Web-based development tool, called MyUdutu, the process was completed in less than five months – a significantly short turnaround for such a major system development project.

That speedy completion was largely due to that fact that Delek’s own IT department took no part in the process, Baker said.

“Quite honestly, most IT departments don’t want another project. They are already overtaxed and the last thing they want to do is to put (more load) on their operational system,” Baker explained. To the IT department, introducing additional HR applications into the system would be “another project for them to develop, manage and support,” he added.

Such is the case for many of Udutu’s users, according to the company’s CEO Roger Mundell, where certain business units would find ways to “circumvent the IT department” to get quick solutions for a specific business need.

Although Udutu’s free Web tool was originally targeted for small and medium-sized businesses that don’t typically have the IT resources to build their own e-learning applications, 70 per cent of its customers are still large organizations with their own IT shops, said Mundell. “A lot of them start with us because they see the IT department as a roadblock.”

Udutu’s technology was an offshoot of work developed by an e-learning research group at Royal Roads University in Victoria, a public university that specializes in online learning.

The Web-based tool allows organizations to take advantage of the technology, without having to be subjected to IT’s stringent screening and checklist, because there’s no software installation involved. 

“But the IT department (typically) gets on board quite quickly once the course is a success because the only thing that’s required of them is a Web server,” Mundell said.

Udutu’s free Web-based authoring application allows organizations to develop online course materials and other e-learning tools, Mundell said. While the tool is ideal for developing e-learning tools for distance learning organizations, many of Udutu’s clients use its free tool for developing online employee training materials.  

Because it’s a Web application, the tool is easily accessible and simple even for non-technical users, the Udutu chief executive said. “We took the approach of building a Web tool and making it accessible to everyone.”

This model worked well for Delek because it enabled subject matter experts to access and provide their inputs to the course materials through the Web, said Baker.

For instance, Delek partnered with the State of Alabama’s Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board and gave the regulatory body access to Delek’s MyUdutu page, to ensure that the training courses related to its sale of alcohol are in accordance to ABC regulations, Baker said.

“The key for MyUdutu is that it’s easy enough for anyone to use, from a clerical (personnel) to a developer…so that subject matter experts can come in and contribute to the course,” he said.  

Each Delek store is equipped with a WAN-enabled laptop, where employees can access various HR applications, including training and orientation courses and a job application system, Baker explained.

For areas with low-bandwidth connectivity, Udutu developed an offline version of the job application system, where employees can fill out the forms without having to put up with slow online connections. Software running in the backend then transmits the data to the HR application server.  

Udutu hosts and maintains Delek’s HOT system server. In addition, Mundell’s team also developed the courses and all the special applications running on the HOT system, Baker said.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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