How to start a CRM change project in your union

Many unions are currently considering the future of their membership databases. For some, products are being retired or contracts coming to an end. For others, a run of high pressure large ballot campaigns has highlighted a need for greater accuracy and agility. In some, there are fewer developers with the expertise to support an older system, and it’s simply time to move to a new one.

For most unions, taking this step forward is also taking a step into the unknown. We’ve used the same systems for a long time, we’ve bolted on processes over the years which are unique to our union. And moving to a new system is a risk – it’s expensive, time-consuming, means transferring a large amount of data, and depends on everyone getting trained and enthused about using the new system.

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Managing CRM change projects in unions

As unions digitise more and more of their operations, new tech tools are becoming essential across all their functions. However, the systems used to manage membership data are still the most critical that unions rely on.

This new TUC Digital Lab report looks at Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems from the perspective of the union movement.

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Improving inclusivity in online union meetings

Many unions found that the number of people attending union events and meetings rose during the pandemic, as events moved online. Also the diversity of members attending grew, as many of those who had previously found in-person meetings difficult could now join in.

But online events are not universally inclusive either, and present many of their own issues for inclusivity. There’s now a challenge to unions to make sure as many people as possible can participate as fully as possible.

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Join Together – a new approach to joining unions online

Join Together is a new Software As A Service (SaaS) platform for unions, focused on supporting unions with online joining. They’ve been working with the TUC Digital Lab over the last two years to devise a product that works for unions, and to build it into a sustainable option for the longer term.

We talked to two of the team, Sam Jeffers and Tekin Süleyman, about the tools and their ambitions for them.

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Making the most of mobile for union digital

One of the biggest shifts in digital over the last decade has been the move to mobile. The overwhelming majority of working age Britons now own a smartphone, and it’s given them a new and much more natural relationship with digital channels.

The ability to complete an ever wider range of tasks over the internet, from wherever you happen to be, has raised users’ expectations. And that can be hard for unions to keep up with.

Our latest report, “Making the most of mobile for trade union digital”, takes a closer look at what mobile means for users and their unions. It’s been written with regular Digital Lab contributor Simon Parry of

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User research with union reps

Over the last few months, the TUC Digital Lab has been collaborating with Accord to research how the union’s reps feel about technology, and to get pointers on where the union could best invest its resources in providing tech tools for this key group of users.

We worked on this with Joe Friel and Beth Scott of digital design and development agency Yalla Cooperative. They facilitated a series of workshops to help the union run a discovery process, and conducted a series of user interviews with reps.

In the process, we documented different personas and needs for types of rep and insights from the interviews. We used these to refine our understanding of key user journeys that reps and members go through, and to identify potentially helpful interventions that the union could make along each journey.

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Search engine optimisation (SEO) for trade unions

We’re getting a bit techy with our latest report. It’s an introduction to Search engine optimisation (SEO to its friends). This covers a range of concepts around content strategy and editorial or technical optimisation, designed to make your content rank higher in the results returned by search engines.

So, why is search engine optimisation important for unions?

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