Transforming a historic organisation

User Experience

The brief

The British Psychological Society (BPS) partnered with Difrent to better understand how they handled membership data, what it meant for them as an organisation, where they might improve and how that could serve as the foundation for transforming their business; data-led business transformation is a big step for any company. Taking this approach was critical to the overall success and fulfilment of this project.

For a charitable membership society with a complex membership matrix, legacy systems and processes developed over many years, it was both a bold and important leadership decision.

Difrent had worked with BPS previously on a project to implement Service Management principles into their IT processes, including mapping all of their services and systems. This allowed them to appreciate the complexity of their IT estate and the amount of data contained within it thus providing a good foundation to improve situational awareness and decision making.

How we did it

We supplied a team of experts:

  • delivery managers
  • procurement managers
  • technical architects
  • business analysts
  • user researchers

Our team worked in partnership with the BPS to transform their operations and focus on meeting the needs of their 60,000 members.

We started out looking at difficulties users were having with their systems such as:

  • membership 
  • finance
  • website
  • intranet
  • virtual learning

During the project, we helped the BPS to:

  • decide what to develop in-house, and what to purchase from external suppliers,
  • identify potential ways to improve their data management,
  • engage, focus and align everyone in the organisation to their strategy for the ongoing transformation programme,
  • procure and implement new solutions, and,
  • get the most value from their commercial supplier agreements.

One of the key requirements of the project was creating an easy to use virtual learning management system. This was something BPS needed as soon as possible, as it would allow their members to access resources and learning material, as well as helping the BPS to sell a learning service to public sector organisations. 

We utilised our knowledge of the sector, taking inspiration from similar organisations such as: 

  • Nursing and Midwifery Council
  • Association of Chartered Physiotherapists
  • British Medical Association
  • Arts Council England
  • Royal College of Occupational Therapists
  • Royal College of Nursing

In addition, we invited a number of key learning management systems, based on the Moodle and Blackboard platforms, to present to the BPS and share with them industry best practices. We also had asked them to demonstrate to BPS what a new system could offer them and their members to better meet their needs.

Deciding whether to build or buy

To begin with, we used Wardley mapping to map the BPS’s digital and technology estate with stakeholders, producing a clear representation of the landscape in which they operate.

The outputs informed a delivery plan to steer ITSM activities and changes to their IT infrastructure.

This helped the BPS decide what to develop in-house and what to purchase from external suppliers.

Identifying improvements to data management

Working alongside a team of data and security specialists from Difrent, we conducted a number of workshops to assess the level of maturity when it comes to all types of data across the organisation. These included leaders from across the entire business and anyone who is responsible for data as part of their role. The model comprises 12 core elements that, when combined, addressed all areas of data management. The model is grouped into 4 core categories: –

  • Purpose – the purpose element frames the direction for all their data activities and ensures that the data strategy underpins the business strategy
  • Method – incorporated the organisation, framework and policy elements of the model. This focussed on how core elements were put in place to ensure success
  • People – form a major component of any change and for data-related projects, there’s no exception. Skills, behaviour and leadership create the people-focused elements
  • Tools – this covered the tools needed to play the data game and to play it well, including information architecture, metrics and technology
Data Model

We looked at factors such as GDPR compliance, security standards and corporate policies that related to data handling and relationships with suppliers who process data for the BPS. We implemented an improved Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA), crucial in assessing any new services and systems the society wished to introduce to the business and understanding the implications for GDPR regulatory compliance. Also developed was a new policy framework to provide the data protection officer with the tools needed to improve the safe and secure handling of data at every level and by every team member. 

Data maturity scores were low, but the road to improvement had been uncovered and the leadership team were now equipped to improve the data maturity scores themselves. DPIA is now an integral part of BPS’ business case approvals process. We conducted the first DPIA in conjunction with the project team for a new system to manage their online communities.

The BPS controls a significant amount of data, becoming more capable and confident in how they handle and interpret it formed the backbone of the largest transformation in the 120 year history of the Society. 

Engaging stakeholders with the transformation

We shaped and visualised the BPS’ vision and strategy into a rich picture, to help engage staff, members and stakeholders with their transformation programme. 

We did this through remote workshops with their leadership team and staff, clarifying their vision and strategy, and the links between operations and users’ needs.

This engaged, focussed and aligned everyone in the organisation to the strategy for the ongoing transformation programme, meaning key stakeholders understood their roles and responsibilities, and the work required by the BPS.

Rich picture of The British Psychological Society landscape


Working in partnership with the BPS, we have successfully procured and/or implemented a series of flexible cloud products and services, including new systems for:

  • A Moodle based virtual learning environment, including iterations and improvements
  • Finance
  • Customer Relationship Management system
  • Intranet
  • Website development and build

And in order to support the BPS with their ongoing transformation, we have:

  • developed a user-centric roadmap of business transformation activity, addressing processes and technology
  • developed a future service architecture and data infrastructure blueprint, and a usable and standardised membership dataset
  • implemented power BI for reporting, with recommendations for reporting solutions and systems
  • upskilled the in-house teams including IT, membership, and continuous professional development to empower them going forward

Key learning for us during this project was around stakeholder engagement. We used our expertise in design and business analysis to help stakeholders focus on what they really needed, as well as the importance of their requirements, prioritising what work we needed to complete first. We also discussed in detail the difference between buying a product and customising. 

During our time partnering with the BPS, we were awarded the 2020 Award for Excellence in Digital Transformation by Acquisition International.

‘As a team, we’re very proud to have had our work acknowledged by the judges of Acquisition International. We will always be people focussed and sit side-by-side with our clients – getting the job done well proves that.’ Rachel Murphy

Difrent supported us through a period of significant change for the society when we had an urgent need to replace our disparate legacy systems with modern, integrated systems. They were flexible in their approach and adapted to our needs as the work progressed.

Photo of Diane Ashby

Diane Ashby
Change Programme Director, British Psychological Society

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Danielle Hendy
Engagement Executive