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Managing organizational structure (positions & hierarchies) in Totara Learn and Totara Perform

The positional and organizational hierarchies functionality allows you to build a picture of your organization within your Totara site, but many organizations don’t have a structure easily represented by a single framework and often have informal reporting lines not captured in a traditional organigram.



This means it’s worth investing a bit of time and thought on whether you need to use both positional and organizational hierarchies and if so, how they should be constructed.

When using Totara Learn, consider the following areas:
  1. Whether you want to automatically assign learning items to users and how you might assign those items. Positional and organizational hierarchy information is associated with a number of dynamic audience rules, and audiences can be used to bulk enroll learners in courses, programs and certifications. If you know, for example, you will be delivering learning that would be applicable to everyone in the HR team, everyone in the UK office or everyone who is a team leader, you can use this information to help frame your hierarchy structures.

  2. Whether you’ll be using learning plans and want to use different templates for different groups of users. Learning plan templates can also be assigned to learners based on audiences. If you’d like to support different workflows for different groups of users, you might base these audiences on positions and organizations. For example, when structuring an individual learning plan, a senior manager might be encouraged to build and add to their own plan, whereas staff might have more of a dialogue with their manager to structure and populate their plan.

  3. How are you going to assign competencies? If you’re going to be assigning and tracking the skills, behaviors and knowledge of different groups or types of users, you can assign competencies to positions and organizations, and use audiences and learning plans to automate the assignment of these competencies. Consider an example where you have a large legal team at a multinational organization. You’ll likely have different competencies for different areas of law (positions) but also relating to different countries and jurisdictions (organizations). This means using a position and an organizational framework would allow you to capture both competency requirements.

  4. How do you need or want to filter your reporting? Most report sources allow data filtering based on the position and/or organization of the viewer. Consider who should be seeing what within your shared reports. Hierarchy content filtering will mean you won’t have to create and maintain as many reports but does mean you need to get those hierarchies right at the outset.

  5. Should I create one framework or many frameworks? This decision mostly boils down to filing and admin. There’s no reason why you can’t have one large framework; however, consider the administrator experience when they might be browsing for a specific position or organization or updating the HR import CSV file.


If you’re also using Totara Perform , positional and organizational hierarchies offer additional opportunities for targeted development and automation. You will need to also consider:

  1. How are you going to assign performance activities? If you’re going to create different performance activities for different groups of users, you might want to base the assignment of these not just on audiences, but also on your positional or organizational hierarchies. This can support different workflows for different sections of the organization and offer different forms and questions based on a user’s role and responsibilities.

  2. How do you want to assign organizational goals? After building goal frameworks , you can link goals to specific positions and organizations. When a user is in turn linked to those positions and organizations through a job assignment, they will be automatically assigned those goals. This means teams and departments can work together towards a common goal and an entire organization can track its contribution to a particular company objective.


If you’d like to learn more about positions, organizations, job assignments, learning plans, reporting, performance activities or goals please check out our Totara Academy (the hierarchies and job assignments course is a great place to start) or request a demo .

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