Aquila Learning is a new UK startup (founded in 2018), led by former Royal Air Force officer Mark Radbourne. Its mission is to apply military training rigour to any high-risk industry where the actions of individuals have a direct bearing on people’s effectiveness and safety in the workplace.
High risk industries (such as defence, aviation, shipping, rail, healthcare, and energy) rely on complex training management practices to ensure tasks are completed effectively and safely in the workplace. However, the lack of appropriate technologies on the market is making this increasingly difficult for organisations to fulfil in a cost-effective and efficient manner. Ultimately this leads to ineffective training and competence management practices which may increase risk of catastrophic incidents due to skills gaps.
Aquila Learning set out to address this problem with a comprehensive, world-class application for managing training, embodied in an intuitive software system which is easy to deploy and scale.
Aquila knew exactly what they wanted; a software partner that would translate their vision into a powerful yet easy-to-use application that would provide a minimum viable product/proof of concept to gain early buy-in from their customer base. The team shortlisted three companies, knowing they needed to work with someone in the UK who they could meet with.
“We wanted a partner we could work with closely and keep everything on track. Good communication was vital,” Mark says. “We also needed a company with a good record, and ample capacity.”
One Beyond stood out. “They had everything; the location, the experience, and the skills to take on this project,” he says. “Their agile and collaborative approach to development was ideal. Being able to meet regularly was key to getting this right first time.”
They had everything; the location, the experience, and the skills to take on this project. Their agile and collaborative approach to development was ideal. Being able to meet regularly was key to getting this right first time.
Gianni Araco, one of One Beyond’s top technical architects, ran the project in collaboration with Aquila. “We wanted a clever piece of software that would deliver our process for training management and provide a clear proof of concept to our customer base,” Mark notes. “Too often, planning and managing training in high-risk industries is highly time-consuming and overly complicated.”
The system needed to be flexible and adaptable, too. Although the first use case would be within the military, for the MoD, Aquila wanted it to be readily customisable for use across a broad range of other high-risk industries; as applicable to oil, gas and nuclear industry engineers as to the training of pilots.
The user interface is fantastic: everything feels simple, uncluttered, easy to use.
“The user interface is fantastic: everything feels simple, uncluttered, easy to use,” Mark says. “Gianni has been superb. He understood exactly what we needed and has maximised what the technology can do to enable a great user experience.”
The MVP spans four critical stages in the training management lifecycle — Analysis, Design, Delivery and Assurance — and includes some standout features at every phase.
At an analysis level, for example, the software automates hierarchical task analysis, producing very complicated role data very quickly — from tens of thousands of interrelated data points — and highlighting any gaps. The scheduling function, meanwhile, optimises not just instructors’ time but also the use of expensive equipment such as simulators. Finally, the assurance capability enables users to run elaborate risk analyses over historic data to further inform risk management.
“It’s all about facilitation,” Mark explains. “It’s about quickening the building and management of complex training, and providing greater insight through automated reports, data checks and data crunching.”
The projected impact of the software, which One Beyond delivered on time, is considerable. Mark estimates that the process of building and managing a complex training programme for an airline pilot could be reduced by a massive 75% and completed with much leaner training design teams. “It’s not just about man hours saved” he says. “But of course, this is also about truly understanding the operational role, and optimising training to meet this; in turn preventing incidents caused by human error which could have potentially devastating consequences. That’s something that’s impossible to quantify.”
Aquila will now take the MVP forward, using this as a proof of concept within the UK Military before further development of the system into a full commercial offering. One Beyond’s role, for now, is complete.
“One Beyond have been the catalyst in taking a concept and turning it into the MVP we required” Mark concludes. “It’s a great relationship, which will continue. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with One Beyond again, whether for additional development work or a new project. They’ve been instrumental in delivering our early product development and are a very valued partner.”
It’s a great relationship, which will continue. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with One Beyond again, whether for additional development work or a new project. They’ve been instrumental in delivering our early product development and are a very valued partner.