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Royal College of Ophthalmologists now sees with fresh eyes

Core helped the Royal College of Ophthalmologists (RCOphth) in defining the scope of the CRM project, through implementation using Core's unique style of agile approach, to end user training and ongoing support, resulting in a partnership which has helped shape its approach to IT projects and membership management. There was an emphasis in engaging and involving with the College staff throughout so that the final go-live ran smoothly.

Voice of the profession

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists sets and manages the curriculum for training eye surgeons, is the membership body for the specialty by royal charter and advises on patient care and best practice.

With nearly 4000 members worldwide, the Royal College acts as the voice of the profession, setting the curriculum and examinations for trainee ophthalmologists, providing training in eye surgery, maintaining standards in the practice of ophthalmology, and promoting research and advance science in the specialty.  Ophthalmologists are at the forefront of eye health services because of their extensive training and experience in the area. As an independent charity, its policies are based on impartial, clinically based evidence. The Royal College works with leaders and decision-makers in the eye health sector, such as government health departments, commissioning bodies, and patient and charity organisations to help shape eye services for the benefit of patients.

Fresh eyes...lead to fresh thinking

A reaction to a change in circumstances presented an opportunity for the Royal College to take a new, inclusive and consultative approach to a new CRM project. The College was struggling with data which was disparate throughout the organisation, some in Excel spreadsheets and some in a membership system that they found difficult to use. They planned to move from several databases to one ‘single source of truth’ so they needed a central view of the data that was easy to for all to use and access (if given permissions). The project aim was that CRM would become the core business tool for all departments to work from. Looking in detail at current processes and how to be more efficient with Core enabled staff to step back and see how to overcome data management challenges with fresh eyes, instead of being constantly caught up in day to day tasks.

Membership Platform

Core implemented its Membership Platform as an accelerator along with modules for managing events, examinations, professional standards and communications, as well as integrating with existing systems such as its finance package. Their CRM is now used successfully to record and manage applications and evidence of academic achievement and performance. Levels of membership based on qualification level, geographic location, work position (e.g. retired members) as well as non-member information is all recorded and managed in CRM.

Events management

College staff manage their events admin from CRM, including venue bookings, speaker and faculty information and pricing, with web integration to update the event information on the RCOphth website. Online bookings are fed back into CRM so staff can view registrations in the same system as all other member/non-member information and can report on numbers and total revenue. The Royal College now has the ability to reserve seats for essential attendees and manage multiple examinations held at the same time and date with different examiners and markers. Some exams have written/oral and/or practical components and these need to be organised into stations/desk numbers, so Core implemented an algorithm in CRM to allocate these automatically and randomly when booking, which can also be manually re-set in the interface as required. Exam results are also recorded in CRM at a high level.

Professional Standards

Maintaining current contact information and faculty role/member details is key to the ability of the Royal College to reach the relevant person quickly and efficiently. The Royal College is also responsible for maintaining posts for representatives and distributes voting and applications for new posts and vacancies arising. Some of the areas of professional standards are sensitive and CRM security only allows access to the couple of staff immediately involved in this particular work. CRM aids the active distribution of newsletters, journals and other communications, enhanced by the Click Dimensions add-in, which provides added benefits for surveys and detailed reporting of email analytics.


Integration with Sage 200 and Sage Pay means invoice and payment status is available in CRM to those staff who need it. All fees taken for exam & event bookings, membership subscriptions or applications are recorded in CRM. Appropriate staff can see the status of the payment and any refunds. The income code has a friendly name but details the complex finance codes necessary for the Sage accounting system, providing the right information in the unified system.

A single source of truth

Other integrations contribute to the single view of a contact:

  • Integration with the website means self service is offered, targeted marketing of areas for interest and specialism is possible and event and exam bookings can be seen within the contact record.
  • Integration with data from the General Medical Council means data is up to date and accurate.
  • Continuous personal development (CPD) data is stored outside of CRM so any qualifications achieved are pushed through to revalidation along with contact information.
  • Integration with ePortfolio, a training record holding all WpBAs (Workplace Based Assessments) that are mapped to the curriculum and mapped to the GMC’s Good Medical Practice guide, means exam results key to progression are visible and managed through CRM.
  • Direct Debits are now easier to manage as they output in a format ready for manual presentation to bank.
  • Sage Pay integration allows payment information to be recorded in Sage pay linking back the transaction ID into CRM.
  • Sage 200 integration means ledgers in Sage are updated to record expected and actual income for reconciliations using third party API tools.

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The new CRM system has changed the way the College works

A CRM project is undertaken with the expectation that the technology will drive operational efficiency and facilitate a membership organisation in achieving their goals of engaging with members and potential members. Yet The Royal College of Ophthalmologists also found another benefit – evaluation with their CRM partner of what they wanted to achieve has shaped the way they now work. Core provided the CRM development expertise to enable the College staff to become architects of their own system.

Aziz Rajab-Ali, Head of Operational Support, Royal College of Ophthalmologists:

It is changing the way the College sees itself and how it works on a profound level. Working with Core helped to transform the way the College implements IT and other projects as it gave us the opportunity to reconsider and rework processes. It helped to break down ‘silo’ departmental culture and staff who were normally quiet or nervous about or around IT were brought out of their shells, which had a staff development impact. The old 'top down’ way of doing things has gone forever.


The CRM project brought forward a longer term plan to develop a brand new website; the projects ran in tandem which had several advantages. The Education & Training and the Examinations departments used to keep separate files for the same trainees but have now merged them in line with information being unified on the CRM. Information which was held on spreadsheets, Access databases and paper files is now kept in CRM, such as committee members' details. CRM has eliminated duplication and inefficiencies and provided the College with new, powerful marketing potential.

Looking into the future

Core is currently working with RCOphth in rolling out further training and provides ongoing support. Core is proud to maintain long-standing relationships with its clients. Having a Microsoft product means the CRM is future proof and the College is now considering phase 2 developments.


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