Branches is one of our favorite features because it can do so much for your training. Branches essentially let you plan and implement a broad range of training scenarios.
- Company A uses TalentLMS to train employees from various departments, where each department has a different manager in the portal.
- Company B uses TalentLMS to train its employees, customers, and partners in separate training environments.
- Company C uses TalentLMS to sell its training courses or offer courses to third parties for free.
- A B2B agency uses TalentLMS to provide training courses for different clients.
Branches make such training settings and many more possible.
To help you with that, here’s a brief guide with our best practices to using Branches for multi-purpose training.
A. Stop using your main URL for training
When you decide to use Branches to organize your training, it’s best to stop using your main URL for training purposes. Here’s why:
- Your main portal is a repository for every piece of information regarding all your users, groups, courses, categories, etc. Branches restrict admin access to branch-specific information only.
- Through your main portal, you can only generate reports that include your overall user base, regardless of what branch a user or a course belongs to. Branches let your managers generate branch-specific reports to better supervise and record user progress and activity.
- Your main course catalog includes all your courses regardless of what branch they belong to. Branches have their own separate course catalogs tailored to their specific audience.
If you already use your main URL for training, you can still make the transition to a branch-based scheme. Just move your existing users and courses to a new branch. You can do it without losing any critical data (e.g., course progress) by using the TalentLMS Import tool (i.e., usertobranches;branch, coursetobranches;branch) or the Mass actions in the Custom reports feature.
|Note: Custom Reports are available with all the Plus and Premium plans.|
The only thing that might change for your users is the sign-in process if you decide to restrict it by checking Disallow members of this branch to login from main domain URL (1) on the branch page. In that case, users have to sign in exclusively through the branch URL.
|Note: For your sub-portals to be entirely independent, we strongly recommend that you check the Disallow members of this branch to login from main domain URL option.|
B. Assign Branch administrators
When you divide your main portal into branches to segment your training, it’s best to assign separate administrators to your sub-portals too.
Branch admins can be set to have access to branch-specific information and settings only, and absolutely no access to your main domain and the overall platform data. When assigned with the default Admin-type user type, a branch admin is allowed to:
- Create and edit branch users, courses, and groups.
- View reports on branch users (and reset course tests for branch users).
- Communicate with branch users through messages and discussions.
- Create and lead ILT units and conferences in branch courses.
- Grade the branch users’ assignments.
|Note: A SuperAdmin (or an admin with the respective permissions) can always revoke the permissions above from the User Types page.|
By default, a branch admin cannot access:
- Branch settings
- User Types
- Events engine
- Account & Settings
C. Know your global settings
There are specific settings that apply to all branches, and can only be set up centrally by a SuperAdmin (or an admin with the respective permissions).
These settings are:
Notifications are activated from the main portal and sent out to all users, regardless of what branch they belong to.
However, user-related notifications (i.e., On user create, On user signup, etc.) can be filtered by Branch and sent to the users of a specific branch only.
If you want to send course-related notifications (i.e., On course assignment, On course completion, etc.) to members of a single branch, you have to clone a course and assign the clone to that branch exclusively. Then, you have to create a notification that’s filtered by the cloned course (i.e., to be sent to users enrolled in that course).
|Note: The URLs included in notification bodies, always refer to the source of the trigger event. For example, when a user is added to a branch by a branch admin (or signs up through the branch log-in page), the respective notification refers to the branch URL (2).|
2. User Types
When you want specific features (e.g., discussions, gamification) to be accessed by the users of a branch (e.g., your employees) and not the users of another (e.g., your customers), create a custom user type. Here, you can apply restrictions and then assign the user type you created to the appropriate training audience.
|Note: You can change the user type of multiple users at once by using the Import tool (i.e., Login;User-type).|
3. Import - Export
To assign multiple users to a branch at once, you can use the Import tool (i.e., usertobranches;branch or coursetobranches;branch) on your main portal. If you sign in through the branch URL, a dialog box pops up asking you if you want to sign in as branch admin instead of SuperAdmin. Click No (3) to access the main portal and import your users into your branch.
|Note: Even if the Disallow members of this branch to login from main domain URL option is enabled, the SuperAdmin can sign in from either the main or a branch URL.|
4. Account & Settings
Most of the general settings have to be set up through the main domain by the SuperAdmin (or an admin with the respective permissions), and they apply to all branches.
- Security settings
- Password settings
- Terms of service
- Social options
- Default user type
- Visible user format
- Specific eCommerce options
If you’re using a mapped domain, branches have to be mapped separately (see this article) as sub-domains of your custom domain.
When you add a custom field to users or courses, you have the option to make it branch-specific (i.e., it’s visible only to the branch admin). Just check the Available only on option and choose a single branch from the respective drop-down list (4).
Gamification rules for when points, badges, and levels are awarded to learners are configured centrally and apply to all branches, but each branch has its own user leaderboard and default badge set. When activated, gamification applies to all portal users. To deactivate it on a specific branch, you have to create a custom learner type (i.e., without gamification permissions) as mentioned above. You also have the option to reset the points, badges or levels for the users of a specific branch (5).
Settings that can be configured separately for each branch, are those available on branch pages:
- Theme (custom themes first have to be created from the Home > Account & Settings > Themes page)
- Language and Τime zone
- Default group and sign-up method
- SSO (you can enable or disable SSO on a branch or use different SSO methods on different branches)
- eCommerce payments and subscriptions
|Note: You can link a different PayPal account to each branch, but you can only use one Stripe account (configured through the Home > Accounts & Settings > E-commerce page).|
5. Course settings and availability rules
For courses that are shared between branches, any Learning paths (i.e., prerequisites) or specific settings (i.e., time limits, certifications, prices, etc.) apply to all those branches.
Any changes made to a course apply to all enrolled users, across the branches sharing that course. A simple workaround for that is to clone a course and assign a different copy to each branch. Also, you could revoke permission to update or delete courses from the user types assigned to branch admins and instructors.
You’re now ready to make the most of the TalentLMS Branches feature.