Universal Music Operations

The Business

Universal Music is one of the biggest players in the international music industry, managing many of the world’s top artists, including Lady Gaga, Lil Wayne and Eninem. Its record labels produce 40 per cent of the music purchased in the UK.

From its operational HQ in Romford, Essex, Universal Music Operations (UMO) takes care of the company’s deliveries to retail outlets such as HMV and Tesco.

UMO’s core team of five developers are based there; their software maintains the company’s stock control and invoicing systems.

UMO also works with various partners and outsources some development to India.


UMO took the decision to adopt Microsoft.Net and SQL Server as a development platform.

For years, all development had been on a – now very outdated – legacy platform. A third party company was recruited to migrate the legacy code to .Net, using a code generation engine.

Although each of UMO’s five developers had up to 15 years’ experience on the legacy platform, they had absolutely no experience of .Net – the team needed to be trained on modern approaches to software development.

Also, they needed to apply the training immediately to the migrated system.

It was agreed that the best solution was a crash schedule of four courses, to take place at the company’s HQ over a period of five months. The training would include a close look at the code they would be working with.

The Delivery

The first step was to select the most suitable course for UMO’s requirements. We decided to use Microsoft’s official courses, which last between three and five days.

Following our guiding principle – ‘only what you need’ – we customised the Microsoft courses to ensure they would be relevant to UMO’s new systems and appropriate for the developers’ backgrounds.

For example, one of the steps we took to customise the course was to dramatically reduce the number of slides – we wanted to avoid ‘death by PowerPoint’! The training was based around a set of tailored practical exercises.

Each course had a clear set of objectives. And at the start of each course, the developers were asked what their own objectives were. Their objectives were regularly revisited during the course, to check that the delegates’ individual training requirements were met.

The trainer worked closely with delegates to ensure that everything was fully understood. Developers regularly looked at the migrated system.

To empower the developers and ensure that everyone was fully engaged in the process, delegates were invited to volunteer to carry out demonstrations.

On completing the training courses, the developers were confident working with .Net and eager to start working with their migrated system.

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