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Enable elements for import

There are three elements that can be imported via HR import; organisations, positions, and users. To import any data for these elements, they must be enabled. You may choose to enable one or more elements for import.

To enable an element for import:

  1. Go to Site administration > HR Import > Elements > Manage elements.
  2. On the Manage elements page, enable the elements available for import.

  3. Select the Show/Hide (an eye) icon to enable an element.

  4. Select Settings to configure the settings for each enabled element.

You can also access each element's settings by going to Site administration > HR Import > Elements and selecting the name of the element you wish to configure settings for.

Once enabled there will be a HR Import? option that will appear in the settings when creating a new instance of that enabled element (e.g. when creating a new organisation). Selecting the HR Import? option when creating a new organisation, position, or user enables it to be updated or deleted via HR Import. 

Example of option to enable HR import.

The idnumber field for the new organisation, position or user must have a value to enable it to be updated via the HR import, as well as having the HR Import? option enabled.

Element settings 

There are two options that are common to each element; Source and Allowed HR Import actions. Additional options are also available for the User element.


Choose which source method HR Import will use for importing data.

There are two options:

  • CSV: Records supplied in a Comma Separated Variable format specified in the CSV source settings.
  • External Database: Records provided by connecting to external database in the format specified in the External Database source settings.

Empty string behaviour in CSV

When importing data from CSV files there is an option to determine the behaviour of empty strings.

  • Empty strings are ignored: Means that any empty field in the import will be ignored and existing data will be unchanged.
  • Empty strings erase existing data: Means that any empty field in the import will cause the existing data in that field to be erased.

Allowed HR Import actions

Choose the actions that are allowed for data being import. There are three sync actions that can be enabled.

  • Create: If enabled (checked) new items will be created for the specific element.

  • Update: If enabled (checked) existing items will be updated for the specific element. 

  • Delete: If enabled (checked) existing items will be deleted for the specific element.

Positions and organisations only allow full sync. Therefore if the delete flag is enabled for either of these, any position or organisations records missing from the import will be deleted on upload. Use of the delete column within the CSV file will have no affect on these elements. 

User element source options

Source contains all records

If the source contains all records i.e. a full file, Yes should be selected. If not i.e. the source only contains records that need to be created, updated or deleted (a partial file), No should be selected.

If No is selected, then the source must include the deleted field.
Default Email Address

If duplicate emails are allowed you can set a default email address that will be used when syncing users with a blank or invalid email. If duplicates are not allowed every user must have a unique email. If they do not, they will be skipped. Allow duplicate emails: Choose whether duplicate email addresses from the source are allowed.

Only import new users' password

If Yes is selected, passwords are only updated for new users. If No, all users' passwords are updated. 

Force password change for new users

If Yes is selected, new users have their password set, but are forced to change it on first login. 

Reset passwords for undeleted users

If Yes is selected and a password is not specified in the source, then undeleted users will have their passwords reset, will receive an email with the new password and will be forced to reset their password when first logging in. 

Link job assignments

If job assignment data is provided in the import, it will be linked to existing job assignment records using this method. If linking to the user's first job assignment, only one job assignment record can be provided in the import for each user.

If you choose the option, using the user's job assignment ID number then this will become the permanent options after your first import is performed. It will not be possible to change this and the option will be removed from the settings area. Make sure that you import job assignment ID numbers by linking to the user's first job assignment before changing this option.

User element HR Import actions

Delete: You can decide if you wish to permanently remove users from the system. There are three options: 

  • Keep internal user: Do not delete users.
  • Suspend internal user: Suspend users. This will allow them to be reactivated and is recommended if you're not sure whether the user will be reactivated at any point.
  • Full delete internal user: Delete users.

When deleting a user, all associated data (including but not limited to the following) will be deleted and is not recoverable:

  • Appraisals where the user is in the learner role.
  • Grades.
  • Tags.
  • Roles.
  • Preferences.
  • User custom fields.
  • Private keys.
  • Customised pages.
  • Face-to-face signups.
  • Feedback 360 assignments and responses.
  • Position assignments.
  • Programs and certifications.
  • Goals.
  • Will be unenrolled from courses.
  • Will be unassigned from manager, appraiser and temporary manager positions.
  • Will be removed from audiences.
  • Will be removed from groups.
  • Messages will be marked as read.

If you wish to retain any data you may wish to consider suspending the user instead. 

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Related pages

The Totara Academy has a whole course dedicated to Creating users in Totara Learn. Here you can learn more on how to create users, see best practice, and give it a go yourself.

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