Coeliac UK is the charity for people who need to live without gluten. It is a membership organisation established in 1968 that was originally set up to provide information and support to people diagnosed with coeliac disease. They also fund crucial research to manage the impact of gluten and find answers to coeliac disease.
Coeliac UK decided to open up its membership to all people following a gluten-free diet for reasons other than coeliac disease, and now this group makes up 10 per cent of its members.
This was a major strategic shift for the organisation and it necessitated a transformation of its business processes.
Underpinning that transformation was a £250,000 ICT overhaul in 2013 that included the implementation of Workbooks CRM and a brand new website. This far-reaching, ever-evolving and highly sophisticated implementation of Workbooks allows the organisation to better segment its member records, record information in a more agile way and adapt to market changes. It has been the foundation of the continued success of Coeliac UK.
Back in 2013 the charity was using a membership / CRM system that lacked the flexibility required to store information on its rapidly evolving membership.
“We could not reconfigure the fields within the membership system which, as a result, had not been changed in over seven years. This was stifling the growth of the organisation and was constraining our ability to introduce new services.”- Brendan Harris, Director of ICT, Coeliac UK
At the same time, the charity was keen to allow online and mobile access to its database of 10,000+ gluten-free certified products from manufacturers across the world, and its venue guide to eating establishments across the UK and beyond that provide a good gluten-free experience. Finally, the CRM system needed to support the commercial operations of The Coeliac Trading Company which includes advertising, sponsorship, training, accreditation and merchandise.
So, as part of their ICT overhaul, Harris and his team reviewed 26 CRM systems, and after inviting ten to tender for the project, they selected Workbooks based on a number of criteria. Harris recognised that good user adoption is key to success, and was keen to reduce the cost of ownership by becoming self-sufficient.
“Firstly, we needed a system that we could customise and develop ourselves to suit our specific needs. Our solution needed to be flexible and rich in features. In particular we needed to be able to report, filter and so on in a number of different ways. We wanted to be able to use the same tool for both reporting and analysing the data to gain insight.” Brendan Harris, Director of ICT, Coeliac UK
Coeliac UK liked the fact that Workbooks is UK-based, so its data would sit in the UK. And, finally, the price was right. Taking into account the cost of implementation, on-going evolution and user licences, the Workbooks solution would deliver a clear return on investment.
Workbooks delivered a fully integrated business platform, combining CRM, membership management, business workflows and transaction processing on a single system. Working closely alongside Coeliac UK’s website agency NetXtra, Workbooks was fully integrated into the website, enabling members to signup and pay online, purchase merchandise, submit recipes and access details of gluten-free foods together with venues offering gluten-free options.
In total, the records of over 250,000 individuals, 15,000 organisations, 10,000 products and over 240,000 transactions were migrated to Workbooks. Critically, while the old system required the charity to employ dedicated SQL administrators to make any changes to the data fields, using Workbooks the whole system is far easier to manage, helping to drive cost reductions. In addition, the cloud-based Software as a Service model enabled the charity to reduce its internal IT estate and the overhead of managing and upgrading servers and server software.
In conjunction with the Workbooks CRM and website redevelopment, Coeliac UK also upgraded its business systems and has enabled Microsoft Outlook to sync with Workbooks.
One of the challenges at Coeliac UK was to combine different aspects of the organisation on a single platform to manage relationships with members, customers and suppliers, and Harris is clear that Workbooks was the only solution that could handle this complexity while presenting a simple, logical interface to the users in each team, with clear reporting. The database handles over a quarter of a million contacts with 270 fields on a person record, 300 fields on an activity record and 15 types of person view, and more than 100,000 transactions per year.
“Workbooks has made us far more efficient in what we do. It ensures we keep our data super clean – a single point of truth that we know is absolutely accurate – and this allows us to get through a considerable amount of work with a fairly small team and to deliver an outstanding, self-service experience for our members. Workbooks allows Coeliac UK to punch far above its weight.” Brendan Harris, Director of ICT, Coeliac UK
The positive effects of Workbooks’ implementation have been felt across all teams in the charity.
The Commercial team: They have been able to license and promote their gluten- free ranges to the 65,000 members.
The Fundraising team: Workbooks is used to log and track donors with more ease, allowing for greater visibility in relation to Gift Aid, which in turn enables more accurate submissions to HMRC.
The Membership team: Armed with fuller and clearer information on its members, Coeliac UK was able to introduce different types of membership, providing each with a tailored and more relevant website experience.
The Volunteering team: Local groups now have their own microsite, managed through Workbooks, where they have local pages offering information on local activities and events.
The Campaign team: Workbooks is being used to track the lobbying of Clinical Commissioning Groups consulting on the future of gluten-free prescribing and other policies. Another campaign allows researchers to submit their funding applications online, and the documents are stored in Workbooks where a review process helps the organisation to decide how to allocate funds.
The Marketing Communications team: They run multiple communication campaigns weekly which has been simplified by the use of Workbooks’ campaign management functionality.
The Finance team: The finance team uses details of every financial transaction recorded in Workbooks to reconcile information from the organisation’s bank accounts with the Access Dimensions finance software. Using Workbooks every day, the finance team is then able to analyse changes to Direct Debits, Gift Aid donations and so on, and take appropriate actions.
As the organisation continues to grow and as the trend towards gluten-free living gathers ever greater momentum, the charity’s use of Workbooks is expanding. Coeliac UK is continuing to improve member retention and streamline processes by converting members to direct debit payments, making increasing use of member surveys – with the results stored and analysed in Workbooks; and in coming months we can expect to see even greater integration with social media.
Introducing Workbooks and evolving the solution over the past four years has allowed Coeliac UK to completely overhaul and improve the vast majority of its day-to-day processes and offer a significantly better experience to its members. Inspired by this experience, the charity is energised about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, and expects Workbooks to remain central to its operation as it moves towards that future.