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United Bible Society

Global grant management, project design & monitoring platform

Client United Bible Society
Service areas Consulting & digital transformation
User research & product discovery
App & digital service development
Key statistics
  • 30x
    accounting reconciliation
  • 150+
    network of
    autonomous Bible Society offices worldwide

The United Bible Societies is a global fellowship of around 150 Bible societies operating in more than 240 countries.

They are made up of independent national Bible Societies—choosing to join together as members in an interdependent global organisation to make sure that everyone who wants to can access and engage with the Bible.

UBS was paralysed by old offline systems

UBS were operating a legacy system which caused a number of problems and prevented the organisation from being as effective and useful to its membership as it could be.

Poor User Experience
Poor User Experience

The existing system was hard to use and meant that people were bypassing the system where possible, leading to poor data and inconsistent reporting functions.

Poor Communication
Poor Communication

It wasn’t available online meaning that data was being shared in Word documents and other formats, often via email and in an unstructured manner, leading to poor communication.

No Process Management
No Process Management

The existing system was used as a records system and did not support users in conducting their work. The new system needed to provide frameworks and tools to improve the design of projects and financial planning. It also needed to facilitate the work of administrators in conducting the business processes and approval mechanisms.

Out-of-date Information
Out-of-date Information

The offline element of the existing system meant that data was often out-of-date and planning was difficult for all users. The new system needed to provide on-demand data so that decisions could be made on funding in parallel with other funders.

What did we do?

Having been unable to find technology that was a good fit for their work, United Bible Societies decided to create their own.

We helped them create a platform that drives grant funding, facilitates global collaboration, develops and teaches best practice in project design and underpins regular, high-quality impact reporting, all while bringing huge efficiency gains with re-engineered processes.

We chose to work with Suru Partners on replacing our legacy systems primarily because of their user-focussed approach. They conducted thorough research of our users, their needs and aspirations for the system, and the kinds of software they were already familiar with using to make sure we built the right thing.

Mark Cook, Director of Operations

United Bible Societies (UBS) is a complex international charity operating a network of more than 150 autonomous Bible Society offices around the world, each of which is a significant and complex organisation in their own right. These offices are overseen by an international body that coordinates efforts between them and provides vital governance and brokering services, which allows the whole organisation to work together to efficiently reach every part of the world. In particular, the global team coordinates the funding and implementation of numerous mission and development projects run by those in-country Bible Societies.

UBS’ leadership engaged Suru to design, develop and manage a bespoke web application — the Solomon Project Registry — to be used by both UBS' global team and individual Bible Societies’ staff. It needed to support a set of complex workflows involving multiple users from UBS and other Bible Societies and integrate with data and workflow events from external systems.

We conducted numerous process modelling sessions with stakeholders across the organisation to map, evaluate and optimise operational processes and the context in which UBS staff do their work. We also conducted user research and business case analysis before the project was underway which led to UBS updating their original roadmap in light of new information from our research and alternate approaches. Our early guidance unlocked new opportunities that UBS hadn’t envisaged.

Starting with people, not technology

Before our involvement, UBS had already begun their project by immediately soliciting proposals from firms to build an app but this yielded ideas that were based on too many assumptions and only scratched the surface of what was possible. The traditional tender process had encouraged everyone involved to skip past the hard work of research and strategy and straight to picking a solution.

Suru turned this round with roadmapping. We showed UBS how to properly research the need in the organisation to clearly define the problem space in its full breadth — simply further digitising the processes they already had wasn't going to move the needle on the organisation objectives. This early research phase not only yielded a much stronger proposition by allocating resources to the features that gave real impact, but also brought Suru and UBS into collaborative exploration whereby they iterated and refined the project in response to new ideas and feedback from stakeholders. These stakeholders, due to their involvement in the research, bought into the project and felt ownership which dissipated resistance to change and made the ultimate rollout much more successful than it otherwise would have been.

The impact of Solomon has been substantial. User adoption and satisfaction are high, and many of UBS’ processes have been streamlined and improved through Suru Partners’ ongoing consultation. The system received praise not only from stakeholders in the organisation but also the Charity Commission’s auditors.

We have remained closely involved with UBS and continue to evolve and grow the application on a continuous deployment schedule, responding to UBS’ changing needs and allowing UBS to take advantage of new opportunities quickly.

The new system is so helpful. You would not believe how much time and money is being saved by our offices with this technology.

Maxime Bakiono, Team Leader

A modern digital project design, grant management and monitoring platform

Through our work to establish the needs of the organisation, Suru built a bespoke platform, The Solomon Project Registry. This supports a large number of UBS’ core business functions with features such as:

Interactive tools guiding users through the design and implementation of effective charitable Projects and which deploy in-context training and resources to guide planners towards best practice

Full version history of all changes to proposals

Fast full-text search & filtering of the nearly 5,000 Projects in the system, with multi-faceted relevancy scoring powered by ElasticSearch, for Grant makers to discover Project proposals that fit their fundraising goals and governance criteria

Grant management tools for Bible Societies to pledge, commit and transfer funds to Projects they select, all integrated with the organisation's central accounting system

Reporting tools and workflows that connect funding to successful progress against project milestones, which fosters good governance and high quality monitoring and evaluation of Projects

Powerful workflows and email notifications guiding users through complex, multi-user and multi-stage processes

Communication tools allowing Grant makers and Project implementers to collaborate directly on the platform

Administrative tools for UBS staff to provide feedback on Project design, resolve Grant disputes with stakeholders, manage Bible Societies and more

Real-time read and write integration with other UBS systems including their central SalesForce CRM, accounting system and central media library

A responsive web user interface adapting to any device

Multi-lingual user interface

Integration with UBS’ single-sign-on system (also developed by Suru Partners)

Their willingness to explore and challenge our business processes as we sought to operationalise strategic changes was key for us.

Mark Cook, Director of Operations
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