CRM and Portal Working Seamlessly to Deliver Enhanced Membership Services

Kitten at the vet


British Veterinary Association (BVA) is the membership organisation for the veterinary profession in the UK. As a membership organisation, BVA represents and serves its members in policy development, journal publication, continuous professional development and events, access to a variety of support services (e.g. legal helpline and insurance), promotion of key issues and messages and management of the Canine Health Schemes.

BVA has over 19,500 active members, mainly from the UK but also internationally. Categories of membership include Standard, Young Vets, Concession, Joint, Student and Group. Based in London with over 50 staff, BVA have an annual revenue of about £ 6 million. Representation across the UK is maintained through the presence of BVA branches in each of the devolved nations.

The Board governs the strategic direction and performance oversight of BVA, made up of nine veterinary and non-veterinary members. BVA Council represent the view of all members on policy development and is the key debating chamber.

Puppy with stethoscope


Because of the last failed Dynamics project, lots of members of the project team approached this new project with apprehension; however, Bluelight did such a good job of listening to our requirements, understanding them and implementing them; it was as if the scars of the old project became healed throughout the new implementation.

  • Andrew Shipway
  • Head of Technology and Data
  • British Veterinary Association



Although BVA had commissioned a Dynamics CRM provider to replace its legacy CRM system in 2013, ongoing issues with the solution implemented and service from the supplier meant that by 2019, BVA were searching for a new, trusted Dynamics CRM partner and provider. Key improvements required were the delivery of a truly integrated solution, bringing together the CRM, the members portal, the Canine Health Scheme (CHS) portal, the email marketing tool and the finance system because the original Dynamics implementation had not achieved this and still left BVA staff with a requirement to carry out manual workarounds; BVA therefore also recognised there was a need to improve organisation efficiency by appointing a provider who understands how Dynamics can support automation and the effective delivery of business rules and processes.

BVA also desired to bring together the multiple communities supported by BVA, including members, vets and other constituents involved in schemes like the CHS, into one unified system and make their interactions with the organisation online and in person much easier to navigate through, and this was coupled with an aspiration to improve the understanding of members’ engagement and support them more effectively. Finally and critically, BVA wanted to find a supplier who the BVA could trust and build a long-term successful relationship with.

BVA worked closely with HartSquare, a well-known consultancy in the NFP space, to ensure their choice of supplier was validated by this consultancy’s experience in the sector.


As with all Bluelight projects, it was critical to assess user requirements through a well-structured and well-attending joint Discovery program. Here Bluelight’s personnel ensured they understood to a high level of detail where the original Dynamics CRM project had failed and where BVA’s aspirations of success were placed, matching these with the best way of delivering them into BlueCRM/Dynamics. Of specific note through this phase of the project was the spirit of teamwork in which all organisations approached the task. As requirements were voiced, captured and refined, it took time for BVA to build confidence and trust in the process. They needed to be reassured that the systems’ functionality incorporated their bespoke requirements and that change requests and additional costs were not going to be meted out to accommodate any requirement that might not be fully fleshed out during the Discovery stage.

At all times, Bluelight was on hand to provide explanation, guidance and reassurance around the solution and the implementation process to ensure a successful Go Live. Bluelight’s expertise in teasing out requirements with challenging and constructive questions and then putting together an accountable and realistic project schedule meant that BVA could sign off on this stage confident that the boundaries for the project in terms of cost, timeline, scope and quality would not be breached. The whole team at Bluelight were really approachable, from the Managing Director to the Professional Project Manager and to the consultant teams.


Bluelight’s version of Dynamics, BlueCRM, is so much simpler and yet still highly effective at delivering a complex solution that, moving forward, the team at BVA are so more confident of using the system on a day-to-day basis and are itching to make changes and improvements to the solution because it is no longer seen as an impossible task to get Dynamics to change and scale with the organisation.

  • Andrew Shipway
  • Head of Technology and Data
  • British Veterinary Association
Vet with a horse


The project was originally due to start in Q2 of 2020 but was paused due to Covid lockdown measures. BLC continued to be flexible and understanding in their approach, and the 9-month project was given the go-ahead to start in June 2021 with a go-live requirement for the end of March 2022.

The most definitive outcome was a project that was delivered on time and to budget, meeting all the key requirements of the initial scope, which were

  • a CRM fully integrated with both a membership, events portal and a fully bespoke new CHS portal

  • Data migration from two major sources -data from the legacy CRM and an Access database have been collated into a single source in the new CRM

  • additional integrations with third-party systems for managing direct debit payments, marketing communications and payments directly through the CRM.

There were some clear bonuses, too – the decision to ask Bluelight to manage liaison between relevant third-party organisations provided a seamless delivery model and yielded dividends for BVA as they were able to benefit from Bluelight’s expertise in Project Management and delivery. This wealth of experience meant that best practices have become well-honed, and the delivery from two separate organisations was presented as one solution to BVA - no trying to pass the buck when bugs were uncovered in UAT! This is just one example of Bluelight’s approach and professionalism, which has given BVA stakeholders back a sense of confidence in IT suppliers.

Another important bonus for BVA is that from start to finish, they were supported by the same Bluelight team – The Lead Consultant, Functional Consultant, Data Consultant, Project Manager and Project Sponsor were consistent from start to finish. This had an enormous positive impact on continuity and relationship building; even now, the same Functional Consultants are involved in helping the system evolve through the Support Desk mechanism.


The benefits BVA are realising from their new integrated CRM and Portals include the ability to

  • have a complete view of all members and contacts, with a record of interactions to allow for targeted communications
  • provide a high level of customer service to those using the CHS, including a more streamlined process, providing a single source of data for all results
  • improve consistency and efficiency of business processes through workflow, automation and integration of services
  • build a spirit of positive collaboration with Bluelight to foster a culture of creative innovation which is leading to continuous improvements in the new systems as they work to support BVA processes best
  • Allow BVA staff to work more efficiently and provide more resources to members through improved automation and fewer manual processes
  • Produce powerful data analysis using data BVA can trust

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