The number of people cycling in the UK has increased by as much as 200% since COVID-19 lockdowns propelled more of us to take up cycling for leisure, to improve our fitness and wellbeing, and make use of a greener form of transport for our daily commutes.
With membership numbers growing, Cycling UK wanted to replace its 20-year old CRM system and move to a cloud-powered Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM solution that would deliver all the scalability and capabilities the charity needs to manage its internal and external relationships more effectively and efficiently. Everything from volunteer management and lobbying, to collaborating with community partners such as businesses and local authorities that participate in the charity’s varied public-facing workstreams.
As part of its platform refresh, Cycling UK also wanted to initiate a cloud-hosted secure Microsoft Dynamics 365 web portal where people could start, renew, upgrade or amend their memberships, as well as updating their details, making donations, and more.
“Keeping financial transactions separate from our main website was important to us from a security and compliance perspective,” explains Ian Taylor, Head of IT at Cycling UK. “The portal would also enable us to communicate with discreet audiences such as volunteers, carefully controlling the content they can access, their fundraising activities and how they book onto volunteering slots.”
Cycling UK had tasked TES, a specialist Microsoft Partner dedicated to the charity and not-for-profit sector, with tailoring its Dynamics 365 CRM solution to its exact needs. When it came to building the accompanying portal that would be integrated with the new CRM platform, TES recommended bringing in Serversys, a Microsoft Dynamics 365 portal specialist provider, to undertake the development and implementation of Cycling UK’s new web engagement platform.
With the clock ticking, Serversys had to get up to speed fast, working hand in glove with TES and Cycling UK to ensure the target go-live date was met and that the new portal delivered flawless functionality.
Designing the new portal in parallel to a new CRM system that was still under development posed a number of challenges. Serversys needed to ensure that all data fields and formats were totally aligned to assure smooth data pulls from the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform along with the auto-update of CRM records the moment members make changes to their personal details or membership status.
Similarly, a complex renewals logic needed to be created to support a huge variety of different memberships that include family, individual, club and affiliate memberships. Plus, individuals can hold multiple memberships concurrently. On top of all that, the self-service renewals function needed to be able to handle a variety of different marketing subscription options – monthly or annual – alongside processing promotional offer codes and discounts.
“Serversys worked late into the night to ensure our delivery timeframe was met. With a tight ‘go live’ deadline, there was very little time for testing but the quality of the programming work undertaken by Serversys meant there were minimal issues to deal with,” says Ian Taylor.
To reduce risk, Serversys worked with Cycling UK and TES to undertake a staggered implementation approach for the portal with an initial focus on getting the joining process up and running before moving through to handling membership renewals and other interactions.
Today, members can log-in to the Cycling UK portal to change and upgrade their memberships and can take advantage of a variety of payment options that include direct debit, as well as credit or debit cards which are handled by an integrated PCI compliant Stripe payment system.
Members can also securely log into the portal to make donations to fund-raising campaigns, participate in raffles and competitions, update their personal details, and purchase items like cycling maps and guidebooks.
The portal auto synchronises with Dynamics CRM, utilising a single codebase to ensure that all Microsoft Dynamics CRM records are instantly refreshed following any engagement or transaction. “We now have a single version of the truth, which ensures that our membership team knows the exact status and activities of every member at any one time. Thanks to the expertise of Serversys, we’ve been able to initiate streamlined user journeys for users that are both frictionless and easy to navigate when on the portal. Something that is important to us and to our members”, confirms Ian Taylor.
For Cycling UK, having a single and integrated framework and data architecture means its now able to communicate with a variety of different membership audiences and partners in a much more cohesive and joined up manner. Spinning up new initiatives and options with ease.
“Just recently we were able to utilise the underlying portal technology to introduce an automated bookings system that enables members to hire e-bikes and take part in events. Reusing principles from the portal integration we were able to integrate a third-party tool to handle the bookings and roll-out the new service in an incredibly short time frame,” says Ian Taylor.
“Visually, the portal looks great and worked well from the offset. The rich functionality it offers means we already have plans in place to add new enhancements in the not too distant future.” The portal also gives Cycling UK an additional and powerful way to deliver new content to members, volunteers and partners. Everything from the delivery of personalised content to selected audiences to providing access to information and updates volunteers need to ensure they know exactly when and where they need to be and what they will be doing.
As an experienced and expert provider of Power Platform Portals, Serversys was able to ensure the lightening-fast delivery that was essential to the success of the project.
“Serversys worked in close collaboration with TES to make this happen and were on hand night and day through the initial development phases to make sure our own teams could check in and update on project changes as they happened,” says Ian Taylor.
Serversys’ dedication to getting the project completed on time, without compromising on quality, also impressed.
“The quality of their coding work was exceptionally high and in my experience that is not always the case. As technical experts and experienced developers in our own right, we’re able to tell quite quickly whether an organisation will live up to its promises and Serversys are certainly a class act in this respect,” he continues.
From a project management and delivery perspective, Serversys’ agile methodology ensured that Cycling UK benefited from an iterative and low risk deployment approach that meant the eventual go-live proved relatively hassle-free.
“Serversys’ impressive light touch project management meant we were able to directly access and interface with their developers – something that was extremely important to us and proved key to ensuring that we were able to implement at speed and in alignment with the Microsoft 365 CRM platform.”