Department and Groups Set-Up



Why are Departments important?

Hierarchical Departments are the base structure of your Absorb LMS: they’re the foundation from which you’ll manage users, deploy training activities, documentation and gather information.

Departments are the rigid structure of your LMS, with clear rules so you know what to expect. So careful thought when deciding on the Department structure is highly recommended before any other decision is made.


Why are Groups important?

Groups are primarily used for performing bulk actions on otherwise unrelated users via Absorb’s availability rules (e.g. making a group of courses available to a group for self-enrollment, etc.).

Besides this primary goal, Groups can also be assigned with Admins, thus providing flexible movable structures to manage users and assign training contents, making up for the Departments inflexibility.


Differences Overview

The differences between Departments and Groups are what makes their combination so powerful to better adjust Absorb LMS to your organization’s needs.


An Admin can’t be simultaneously Admin for a Group and a Department (it has to be one or the other).

  • A Department Admin can be assigned to multiple departments;
  • A Group Admin can only be assigned to 1 Group.

A Learner can be simultaneously assigned to Departments and Groups.

  • A Learner can only belong to 1 Department;
  • A Learner can be assigned to multiple Groups.



Department and Group Admins have the same permissions.

Department Admins can see all users that belong to the Department(s) assigned to them in the “User Management” permissions.

Group Admins can see users that belong to the Group regardless of the Department they (or the Admin) belong to.


Visibility Rights


  • Level 1 Department Admins can see all department levels (you can also restrict it to view only the Level 1 department if you want).
  • Level 2 department Admins can’t see Level 1 or other Level 2 departments.
  • Level 2 departments can see their own Level 3 departments, not anyone else’s.

Generic rule of thumb:



Group Admins can see all users assigned to the Group, regardless of the department the users and the Group Admin belong to. I.e., it bypasses Department visibility rules of thumb.



Departments have specific and broad reporting available. If not available as a default column, you’ll be able to Add the “Department” column to sort the reports by the Department field.

Groups don’t have specific reporting. Nevertheless:

  • As Department Admin you can use the “Users” report added filters to sort by Groups:

  • As Group Admin all the reports available in Absorb LMS refer to your Group.


Need further flexibility?

Absorb LMS treats user management and access permissions independent of each other.

That means that on top of the restrictions provided by the Departments/Groups combination, you can further restrict or amplify what Admins can or can not see by assigning different roles, whether the Absorb pre-built roles or custom roles you define yourself.

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