Cranswick are a FTSE250 business turning over £1.4bn and lead the way in the pork product sector. They have 16 sites around the UK, and one of those, Cranswick Country Foods Norfolk (for ease of reading referred to as “Cranswick” from this point on), have worked with Vensis to produce Health and Safety systems designed to precisely meet the needs of the site – this is the story of part of that, the Training System.

Cranswick is not unusual in that training is a critical factor in staff safety, productivity and product quality. The Health and Safety Team recognised that their processes were running sub-optimally and approached Vensis for help with their supporting systems.

A process can only ever be as good as the systems supporting it. Although there are many Health and Safety systems available, none fitted the needs of the business. Facing no better option at the time, the team relied on spreadsheets and paper records.

This arrangement was not acceptable. They found it time consuming to administer, and reporting was almost impossible. But worse was to come; at some point unknown to the team the training spreadsheet became corrupt through user error. This error was not apparent for some time meaning the spreadsheet had to be rebuilt manually from paper records – which took weeks. Safety was not compromised, but an enormous manual effort was required to maintain controls.
This situation had to change.

The Design Process

Over a several months the Cranswick team and Vensis worked together to design a system that would meet their needs. The key step was centralising the data in a database.

As staff members are assigned roles in manufacturing, the system completes a ‘training needs analysis’ – highlighting the training required for that team member to discharge those duties. The system also recognises which team members are properly qualified to deliver the training. The trainer completes the training in the manufacturing area using a tablet PC. The system automatically calls up training materials, documents, risk assessments and even videos to support the training at the lineside.

Once the training is complete, the user completes a test to verify their understanding. The system randomly selects several questions from a pool of questions related to the training. When training is complete the user and trainer sign-off the training identifying themselves by entering some numbers from the passcode.

Keeping Training Current

The system has the facility to prompt ‘skills fade’ assessments at pre-determined times after training is completed. A suitably qualified person checks that the staff member is still operating within the training and confirms this in the system.

Many skills require a re-training course after a predetermined period. The system also manages this, highlighting when training is due to expire to ensure all skills are current and up to date.

From time to time, training materials may be updated to reflect new best practices. As the training is updated in the system, the administrator can choose whether the new information deems it necessary to re-train staff to these standards, or whether it is acceptable to wait for the re-fresher. If re-training is required, the administrator can ‘expire’ the training and give a timescale in which staff must be re-trained.


The system does not rely on being actively checked by a manager or administrative user. It proactively manages training by continually monitoring the status of training and sends emails to the appropriate staff when action is required. Similarly, it automatically generates and distributes a weekly report of training KPIs.
The whole system follows some simple principles that Vensis apply to all the systems they produce:

Fewest clicks – it should be easy to get to where you want to be in the system. The user should not have to follow endless menus.
Automation – if the computer can be doing it, it should be doing it. Why drain staff time completing tasks a computer system could be doing for you?
Intuitive – You should not need a user guide for much of the system. It should be obvious.
Optimise – By restructuring and centralising data, opportunities are created. We do not waste this by building a system that replicate the inefficiencies of the past. We look for new possibilities.


The outcome for Cranswick is that their training, compliance, recordkeeping and reporting is efficient, robust and comprehensive. It is also a great basis from which to deliver improvement to the training materials, ensuring the whole team is trained to best practice.

This training system is just one example of the types of system Vensis produce. Each system is designed specifically to meet a client’s need. Recent examples include demand-capacity planning, workflow management, CRM, stock management, production planning, quality management, travel agent management and many more.

If you feel your business could benefit by moving away from fragmented spreadsheet data to a centralised strategy, get in touch today.