Don Logo
Nick Stephenson
By Nick Stephenson |


DON has over seventy years’ experience of crafting quality smallgoods, producing prize-winning fare in Castlemaine, Victoria. The company’s site is the largest employer in regional Victoria with over 1800 employees and it produces over 500 tonnes of products every week for the national and international market.  In 1999, DON became a division of George Western Foods (GWF).

The Challenge

DON’s core goal was to establish an easy-to-use system with accurate recording and reporting to managers.

As a food manufacturing company, DON must meet strict food and occupational safety standards to ensure the safety of its employees, and thousands of meat-loving consumers, nationally and internationally.

DON managers need to provide, track and report upon staff training, both online and face-to-face, and production teams need accurate, real-time data to determine who is qualified to perform which tasks on the plant floor.

Before transitioning to Xapify, Nick, a Systems Manager at GWF and the lead for this project, identified that the same skill data was being recorded in up to three different ways by multiple system administrators. Not only did this make auditing processes more difficult, it also meant that ‘Map and Gap’ processes required a long time to complete.

Training + Reporting Needs

DON’s training modules must include essential knowledge, such as food safety, physical safety, and machine safety, as well as tracking ‘Threats to Life’ (TTLs) training, which includes mobile plant and electrical safety, working at heights, working in confined spaces, and hazard and risk management. Both the provision of training and the outcomes thereof need to be tracked for compliance purposes, and these qualifications must be renewed in a timely manner each year.

Whilst some of the content can be delivered online, these training modules are largely delivered as a series of face-to-face training sessions. This means that a ‘three-dimensional’ skill management system is required to capture training in both on- and offline classrooms.

Additionally, these outcomes need to be easily reported, both within DON leadership and externally, for the purposes of compliance. The organizational structure at DON is complex and includes 200 managers across the business.

As employee pay brackets are linked to their qualifications, DON is required to maintain accurate and timely records of training completion. When manually entered into the system by administrators, this is a significant workload, and human error and delays have a direct financial impact upon employees.

The company also promises employees “an exciting and varied career path” placing a high value on the learning and development of their employees. Part of this skill development strategy includes a buddy and assessor training system whereby suitably qualified employees can train and verify the skills of their peers.

This agile training approach is important for maintaining the flexibility of DON’s workforce which is sometimes required to be deployed within the plant. To facilitate this, DON needed a skill management system that would gather a complete picture of employee skill sets to optimize the internal mobility of the workforce, to ensure training is provided where there is maximum impact, and to easily identify tomorrow’s leaders.

Bringing Home the Bacon (AKA ‘The Solution’)

Safety + Compliance Outcomes

Our Skill Framework features have allowed DON to create donLearn, the solution which maps, measures, tracks and reports on skills sets for 1,500 users (more than 84% of DON’s workforce).

donLearn delivers safety-driven training through pathways, as well as compliance buddy training, and ‘ad hoc’ microlearning modules. The system also automates the assigning of specific training pathways to new employees. As a result of the donLearn portal, DON has now doubled its compliance rates (97%).

Skill Development: Map, Measure, Track + Report

To achieve and maintain this safety and compliance rating, Xapify houses a ‘skill’ to represent each qualification or capability an employee is required to have to do their job. donLearn currently tracks 2,500 discrete ‘skills’ to create competency profiles within Xapify.

This skill management solution has allowed DON both to communicate what ‘John Smith’ will be required to do as part of his job, and to quickly determine whether or not he has the required skill set to perform this task.

Coordinators are now easily able to run reports against ‘John Smith’ and the position that he’s working in, gaining instant insight into his qualifications and an ability to identify any of his shortfalls. In one instance, an area coordinator looked up ‘John Smith’ and discovered that he was both trained to complete the task at hand, and qualified to perform ten other roles across the business. As a result, the employee’s skill set was recognized and acknowledged, and he was, thereafter, transferred between departments as required. In another example, it was discovered that an employee held over 200 unique ‘skills’.

Not only are employee skills now more easily tracked, but there has also been a 90% reduction in the time employees wait for pay increases because Xapify has automated manual data entry, and reporting systems are faster.

As always, the power of donLearn lies in the digitization and automation of data. The customized reporting which has been set up for all 200 managers across the business has directly empowered managers and area coordinators to access real-time performance insights as relevant to their production teams. This has increased both transparency and engagement in training programs and means that there is no longer a need to wait for one person in admin to gather this information and share it with others upon request.

Despite managing so many ‘moving parts’, the beauty of DON’s training solution is that it does not require more than one system administrator to run. As Nick reflects: “The Skills feature has been fantastic because it has allowed us to tailor our requirements – we’ve got 2,500 ‘skills’ in the system. With just one system admin, donLearn is easy to maintain.”

August, 2020

The Topline

In partnership with Xapify, DON has created donLearn, the training solution which:

  • Provide accessible, effective training to 1,500 users (more than 84% of the DON workforce).
  • Map over 2,500 active ‘skills’ which track workforce capabilities, including the completion of face-to-face training.
  • Deliver safety-driven training through pathways, as well as compliance buddy training, and ‘ad hoc’ microlearning modules.
  • Identify 5,000 ‘skills’ which could be retired or re-structured to better reflect workforce needs.
  • Identify ‘star performers’, including one employee who has over 200 unique skills
  • Double compliance rates (now 97%).
  • Automate the assigning of essential training pathways to new employees.
  • Automate the management of re-certification to meet legislative requirements.
  • Expand the scope of training management to include salary staff by introducing targeted ‘microLearns’.
  • Offers customised, transparent reporting to serve the needs of 200 managers.
  • Reduces by 90% the time taken for manual data entry processes (215 hours of data entry in three months has decreased to 23 hours over the same time period).
  • Reduces by 90% the time employees wait for pay increases linked to skill verification .
  • Maps, measures and tracks the development of employee skill sets.
  • Keeps real-time, compliant records of employee skill qualifications.


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