AssessTech User Forum 2021: Highlights

Competence Management for an Integrated World.

The focus of this year’s User Forum on 18th November was all about integration; how we better integrate AssessTech’s products with internal and external systems.   We were already putting processes in place to strengthen the relationship between ACMS and AssessBook to link competence data with learning records, but now we are extending this to other systems and functions, recognising that our systems exist within a broader eco-system for competence and safety management.

The whole team has been working hard behind the scenes and provided an overview of the roadmap for both ACMS and AssessBook, throughout the day. We also presented some new concepts and ideas for the future.

Every session was live-streamed and all of these videos are at the bottom of this page. 

Gabriel Stroud, CEO AssessTech, gives the Keynote Speech

Better integration inside ACMS

Recognising that better integration starts with making the various modules of ACMS work together seamlessly. Alice Barrett, Customer Operations Specialist from AssessTech, presented a series of measures aimed at addressing the often-levelled remark, “all the data is there, but there’s a lot of clicking about”.

  • New Wizards. The imminent launch of the Leaving Wizard provides the ability to remove all the details of individuals leaving the organisation including their personnel record, team information, tasks etc.
  • Additional wizards under consideration include the addition of CDP schedules to candidates, adding causes to investigations and taking a person off-track.
  • A Messaging solution for Bulletin which would make bulletins available on the move without the need for candidates to have the aBulletin App and the ability for assessors and candidates to self-assess.

Better Integration with Learning Management

Hannah Washer, Project Manager at AssessTech, spoke about better integration for Learning Management and some of the items on the AssessBook roadmap.

  • Integrating Schedules to link e-learning courses and training days to inform someone’s competence.
  • Integrating Assessments from ACMS to AssessBook and vice-versa
  • Better visualisation of learning data on ACMS through a more engaging candidate dashboard
  • A new, cleaner look and feel for AssessBook as part of Totara V13 upgrade
  • And finally Mobile Apps – MLearn from Mobile Learning is being considered as an extension to AssessBook.
      • It provides an offline experience specifically for playing SCORM packages and resolves issues with lost work due to dodgy network connectivity.
      • It’s compatible with Totara V12+ and existing SCORM content

Better Integration with External Systems

Recognising that ACMS and AssessBook are parts of a wider eco-system used by Train Operating Companies (TOCs) to manage staff and safety, Sally Brinkley, COO at AssessTech, presented plans to integrate with a range of external systems, including:

  • Systems that hold medical data
  • The Train Driver Licensing (TDL) portal from the ORR
  • Resource management and Rostering solutions
  • Incident management systems including the Safety Management Information System (SMIS) from RSSB
  • And finally, Risk management solutions, where AssessTech are looking to partner to provide a solution

The Virtual Verifier

Gabriel Stroud, CEO of AssessTech, presented a concept for the future direction of ACMS, called ‘The Virtual Verifier’. As a business we understand the challenges facing businesses where automation could potentially offer significant solutions.

  • Analysis is underway on the potential to develop a more pro-active approach aimed at reducing incidents and improving performance, with the eventual goal to be able to ‘solve incidents before they happen’.
  • As individuals take more ownership of their own competence, processes could potentially become more automated. The aim of the ‘Virtual Verifier’ would be to map an individual involved in an incident to the technical and non-technical skills that have failed them.  This data can be used to build a model to review the all incident reports and assessments and identify individuals who are at higher risk of a similar incident; pinpointing training courses or other learning resources to consider in order to prevent this happening.
  • Focus groups are being set up to further scope this exciting development.

Development Roadmap for ACMS

Later in the day, Hannah presented a new process for managing feature requests and an insight into the ACMS future roadmap.

  • Single sign-on will be rolled out as part of ACMS V5.2.4.

Features planned for future releases include:

  • The Messaging solution introduced for Bulletin will be extended to support notifications, reporting and other workflows such as candidates reviewing and signing assessments.
  • My Teams and Candidate dashboards are getting an overhaul to provide a more visual experience to present data in a more integrated and coherent way – managers will be able to easily manage both teams and individuals.
  • The Assessment Module is being extended in two key directions.
    • To offer the ability to link assessments to configurable resources.
    • To enable dynamic schedules through the invention of ‘Periodicity’.
  • A Check Module upgrade adds new functionality such as the scheduling of repeating checks, adding them to the candidate dashboard and the ability to add qualifying comments to checks.
  • The Forms Module will have two new features:
    • The aForms App for completing forms on the move.
    • The ability to make forms that act as a front-end to other modules within ACMS. For example the ability to raise an incident, implement a check or log trainee driver hours on a bespoke form.

Guest Speakers

We were really pleased to have two guest speakers from our customer base at this year’s User Forum. 

Paul Atherfold from Greater Anglia gave an overview of their Paperless Competence Files

Storage of paper-based files created significant issues for Greater Anglia (GA) due to size and security. GA wanted to remove all paper across all of their offices. They invested a significant amount of time and effort into tailoring the system for their own bespoke requirements by:

  • Adding a new medical tab to record medical records.
  • Use of the supporting documents tab for job descriptions, safety statements, etc.
  • A new ‘Publication and Equipment’ tab set up in a similar way to the ‘Route and Traction’ tab.
  • Compulsory mitigation technique tab to record any incident mitigation techniques that drivers were mandated to do post incident to help mitigate future incidents.
  • A tab to record mandated incident mitigation techniques.
  • Use of the aBulletin module to maintain a record of publications including driver policy – this particularly helped in their drive to go paperless.
  • Use of the forms function to record drivers that are prescribed long term medication for file verification, closure of schedules or verifying a newly qualified driver.
Greater Anglia now has a better integrated system, and the business is completely paperless. 

Pip Stone from Eurostar described how they are using ACMS and AssessBook to manage competence within their engineering teams.

Within Eurostar’s rolling stock and operations functions, both had requirements for competence management data. Originally, there were several CMS and LMS systems in place and the business decided to streamline their processes to create one holistic solution that was fully integrated, complied with EU regulations that worked across the whole business.  In terms of what they have created, they believe it is ‘the perfect solution’.

Eurostar now have a better and more holistic understanding of their data, one single source of truth, with 33k rows of data pulled from ACMS daily; resulting in more useful reporting for decision making.

Bulletin has been instrumental in improving communication capabilities across Eurostar as it enables electronic sign off, real-time feedback and a log of communications. 

Lunchtime Exhibition

We were also joined in our exhibition area by three of our industry partners who showcased a range of interesting solutions.

  • RSSB who support the rail industry to continually improve its safety performance.
  • 3DVSL who develop simulation and training apps for the rail industry.
  • AssessTech’s Training department
  • Mobile Learn joined the exhibitors on a virtual basis, showcasing videos and images from their MLearn product.

AssessTech Training Exhibition Stand

3DVSL Exhibition Stand

RSSB Exhibition Stand

A Closing Remark…

Gabriel Stroud said,

“It was fantastic to see so many of our customers and partners together in person.  As an industry I think we have all missed that personal interaction and the User Forum was a great opportunity to bring everyone back together again. It was great to find out what customers thought about our current developments and our future roadmap. We’ve come away with a very long list of things to do which will keep us busy for the foreseeable future.”


    Whilst most people attended in person, each of the sessions were livestreamed to virtual attendees. If you wish to watch any of the User Forum 2021, select the videos below.

    Competence Management for an Integrated World – Keynote

    Gabriel Stroud, CEO, AssessTech

    Better integration for ACMS

    Alice Barrett, Customer Operations Specialist, AssessTech

    Greater Anglia Go Paperless

    Paul Atherfold, Greater Anglia

    Better integration for Learning Management

    Hannah Washer, PM, AssessTech

    Using AssessTech Systems for Rolling Stock

    Pip Stone, Eurostar

    Better Integration for External Systems

    Sally Brinkley, COO, AssessTech

    Categorisation of Personal Data

    Sally Brinkley, COO, AssessTech

    The Virtual Verifier

    Gabriel Stroud, CEO, AssessTech

    Development Roadmap

    Hannah Washer, PM, AssessTech