An All-in-One Digital Suite for the Association for Scientific Education

The challenge

As the UK's largest science subject association, The Association for Science Education "ASE" provides support and extensive resources to a huge community of over 8000 science educators and technicians.

As the organisation had grown, the ASE were attempting to deliver these services through a number of disconnected legacy systems. The end result was a reactive experience for members and hours of staff time lost to manual inefficient processes that included rekeying information between the different platforms. 

The ASE wanted to unify their digital estate into a single integrated intuitive platform that could enable the organisation to focus on what was most important, delivering great content and services to their members.

Understanding complex content

The ASE has a huge library of high quality content. This includes teaching resources for all different ages (from primary to secondary school) as well as past journals, news and case studies. The challenge was to find a way to present that to end users so they could both easily find what they needed but also discover new content that might be relevant to them.

The experienced Compuco team guided ASE through a content discovery process to understand the different content types and to build an intuitive information architecture and navigation structure for the site. Our focus on audiences allowed us to build personas to understand how users might search for content, and our card sorting exercises helped the ASE team to group content into sensible categories.

The result of these exercises were “hypotheses” ready to be UX tested with a wider user group. We worked with the ASE team to perform a number of UX experiments, including tree tests and further card sorts, refining the structure until everyone was happy that the results were as optimised as possible.

A paywall for sustainability

As part of ASE’s drive towards sustainability, a number of resources are for members only. In fact, different members can access different resources depending on their level. This particular requirement didn’t pose a significant challenge to the Compuco team. With Drupal and CiviCRM’s deep integration, it was easy to create paywall structures so that content was only accessible to those with particular membership types.

A fully integrated CRM platform

Managing ASE's content library was only the tip of the iceberg. The ASE also had a number of complex needs from a CRM perspective.

The full project included:

  • GDPR compliant CRM implementation
  • End to end membership management for both individuals and organisations including paperless direct debit processing
  • A fully integrated bookshop with automated discounts for members
  • A rich interactive self service portal
  • Single sign on integration with their journal provider
  • Access for students in libraries via Shibboleth authentication
  • Electronic finance system integration

The Association drives much of its services to educational establishments including universities and libraries across the world. As such, at the core of the project was the implementation of an end to end membership management system which needed to support both individual members and organisations. CiviCRM has unique features to understand the complex relationship between people and organisations, allowing organisations to be members, whilst allowing individuals to manage the membership on their behalf.

This was coupled with an automated finance integration, which seamlessly created contacts and invoices in the financial system for all transactions in the CRM. Payments received by BACS into the finance system are synced back to the CRM removing any manual work for the team. Members can instantly see their financial position via self service.

Library access for students

‍One of the more unique aspects of the project is the access for students in libraries via Shibboleth authentication. Shibboleth is a federated access single sign on, which allows higher education students access to a vast array of resource providers. ASE are one of those providers and through the integration, students from all over the world can access the ASE resource library with no additional signup required.

Digital transformation, delivered

The ASE project was one of the most complex projects the team at Compuco had worked on. The ASE’s technology transformation has liberated daily operations from stagnant, fragmented systems, to a dynamic, all-in-one digital platform that holistically serves its members. With it, the ASE are now ready for whatever comes next.