The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is one of the top ten trade unions by size in the UK, representing 170,000 members across the communications industry. With roots tracing back many decades, it represents a diverse range of sectors, including postal services, telecoms, administration, banking, retail and technology. As a campaigning union, CWU works tirelessly to address workplace issues such as fair pay, pensions, health and safety and equal opportunities, both within the workplace and in broader economic and political spheres.


The CWU aimed to streamline member engagement and data management. Hindered by a legacy CRM system, manual data entry and protracted payment processes tracked via spreadsheets, all contributed to stifling membership management and data inconsistencies.

The Challenge

Addressing legacy system limitations


CWU faced significant challenges with its 18-year-old membership system, which was outdated and relied heavily on manual processes. The system lacked the capability to integrate efficiently with CWU’s portal, leading to inefficiencies in data management and member engagement.


One critical aspect that needed reproducing was the payment processes, particularly for members paying by Deducted at Source (DAS). The majority of members pay via DAS making the payment volumes large. Handling these payments was time-consuming and prone to processing errors, impacting data integrity and overall efficiency. Additionally, accurate member data, especially regarding job grade and addresses, was essential for ballot procedures, yet the existing DAS process lacked the automation to capture this information, leading to data discrepancies.

The Solution

Tailored transformation


CWU underwent a rigorous Request for Proposal (RFP) process to identify the most suitable partner for its digital transformation journey. With frustrations mounting across the organisation due to the limitations of the outdated membership system, CWU sought a partner capable of understanding its unique challenges and delivering a tailored solution.


During the RFP process, CWU prioritised finding a partner who could provide more than just a generic solution but also understood its specific needs. It also prioritised a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach for scalability, allowing it to build on the system as its digital journey matures. Amie Retallick, Digital Project Manager at CWU said, “Telefónica Tech stood out among its competitors due to its approach characterised by curiosity and open-mindedness. Some other vendors tried to impose preconceived solutions, but Telefónica Tech showed a genuine interest in understanding CWU’s pain points and creating a solution tailored to our requirements.”


Amie Retallick added “CWU’s decision to choose Telefónica Tech was based on its ability to deliver a scalable solution that aligned with CWU’s needs, its commitment to understanding CWU’s requirements thoroughly, and its demonstration of technical excellence and effective communication throughout the RFP process.”


Telefónica Tech implemented a bespoke solution built on Microsoft Dynamics 365, featuring a model-driven app and a new portal. The new system aimed to streamline payment processes, automate manual procedures and improve member engagement. Automation features were introduced to handle direct debits, ballot-related processes and data updates. A member portal powered by Microsoft Power Pages allowed for easier member interaction and data updates, improving overall engagement.

The Key Results

Transformative impact


The implemented solution addressed the outdated processes and manual inefficiencies faced by CWU. Automation, improved data integrity and better member engagement were the primary objectives achieved. The bespoke nature of the solution allowed for a tailored approach to CWU’s specific challenges. Notable benefits have included quicker membership onboarding and streamlined payment processes. Amie Retallick says, “With access to improved data integrity and automated updates we have found that our member engagement has significantly improved due to our newfound 360-degree view of their data.”


The CWU has over one hundred Branches located across the length and breadth of the UK, and each Branch has a dedicated team of officials, primarily volunteers, who are elected from among the membership of that Branch.  Amie commented, “Our Branches have reported significant benefits since the implementation of the new membership system. The new system has streamlined administrative tasks, making it easier for Branch volunteers to manage member data and access up-to-date information. This improved efficiency has translated into time savings and reduced manual effort, allowing volunteers to focus on serving their members and engaging in other critical activities.”


The enhanced member portal has also provided Branch volunteers with better tools for engagement with members. The improved user experience has made it easier for volunteers to interact with members, address their concerns, and provide them with timely updates and information. This increased engagement has strengthened the connection between Branches and their members, fostering a sense of community and support within the union.

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