To ensure the success of a new operating environment Downer
enlisted Auldhouse to bring 2200 staff from 70 locations
up-to-speed with the latest Microsoft technology.
How do you upgrade your IT systems without causing major
disruptions to your business as staff come to grips with the
This was the challenge Downer faced as it embarked on one of its
largest and most significant transformation projects, dubbed Downer
The engineering firm was upgrading its desktop systems to
Windows 8.1 and Microsoft Office 2013 from Windows XP and
Office 2003, along with its backend infrastructure in order to
equip its people with an up-to-date operating system and
Skipping several generations of technology in a single leap
represented a big and potentially unnerving change for many in the
business. The Refresh project team had to ensure everyone in the
organisation was comfortable with this transformation, while
keeping disruption to the business to an absolute minimum.
The need for fast and effective training on the new systems was
identified as central to the success of the project from the
"Training is absolutely essential in a big transformation
project. It was never negotiable," says Downer programme manager
Lesley Campbell. "A lot of people were nervous at the start of
project because this was going to be such a massive change.
Being able to assure people they would be trained on the new
systems took away a lot of that nervousness."
After a competitive tender process, Downer selected Auldhouse to
conduct the training component of the Refresh project. This
entailed training over Downer 2,000 staff from 70 locations around
New Zealand on the new features of Windows 8.1 and Office 2013.
The defining factor for Auldhouse in the selection process was
its geographic reach and the calibre of its local trainers in each
location, says Campbell. "Because all of the trainers across the
country were Auldhouse's own people rather than subcontractors, we
had consistency of training and control over what was offered."
Downer set Auldhouse the challenge to deliver a training
programme that met an exacting set of criteria. It
needed to cater for staff with various skill levels, had to be
specific but not time consuming and needed to be delivered to a
"We wanted as little disruption as possible," says Downer
business support manager, Paul Vester.
"It was critical for people to know how to use the new systems
from day one - this meant the training had to be tailored and
thorough but could not take too long, to reduce the amount of time
people were away from work.
"Our objective was also for people to return to work after their
upgrade and do their job just like the day before, so there
couldn't be too great a gap between people receiving their training
and their desktop upgrades or they would forget what they had
This meant each person needed be trained no more than two weeks
before their upgraded system was deployed. Auldhouse helped
Downer overcome the logistical challenges of the project by having
the flexibility to move trainers around to adjust to any changes to
the deployment schedule.
"It was a very difficult schedule, but Auldhouse always
managed to make it work - we were never held up by the training,"
The Auldhouse approach
To meet these requirements, Auldhouse delivered a one-day
training programme with modules for different needs. This
included a 90-minute classroom session on the key features of
Windows 8.1, Office 2013 and other programs being introduced such
as Microsoft Lync, which was compulsory for all Downer staff.
Auldhouse also developed e-learning modules and a series of
videos on particular features of the new systems - all customised
to Downer's Refresh brand and made available on its intranet.
These resources were an important part of the training
programme, says Campbell as they enabled anyone who missed
their training sessions to catch-up.
Before the general roll-out of the new systems, Auldhouse also
provided super-user training to a number of "change champions"
at its Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch offices. Selected from
Downer offices across the country, the change champions were
trained to assist colleagues at their branch who might be having
issues with the new systems.
The training programme achieved its goal of alleviating any
concerns Downer staff had about moving to the new systems,
giving them the confidence to easily continue working as normal
following the upgrade, reports Vester.
"Auldhouse worked closely with our team to develop the training
and to make sure it was right for us. They were flexible
enough to deliver the kind of training we thought would suit the
diverse range of knowledge and skillsets of our people," he
"An indication of the quality of the training provided by
Auldhouse was how quickly people got up and running on new system
after their training."
The quality of the training and trainers meanwhile helped
attendance at sessions, says Campbell.
"Our people found the Auldhouse trainers to be very good - they
used the right language and no one felt intimidated by the
training, despite their technical skill levels. That spread around
the business with people encouraging others to do the training
because it was good."
Meanwhile, feedback about the Refresh project was uniformly
positive, says Vester.
"This reflected not only what we had delivered, but how the
roll-out had been done and the quality of the training," he
"People were saying how easy it was for them to carry on and do
their jobs. The fact that we didn't disrupt the business was a
Auldhouse is New Zealand's largest privately-owned provider of
IT training and is Microsoft New Zealand's only Gold Learning
Partner. With more than 25 years' experience providing high
quality training across IT and professional development; Auldhouse
has become the partner of choice for many of New Zealand's leading
organisations as well as the world's largest software vendors.
Auldhouse have national training facilities in
Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
For more information: www.auldhouse.co.nz