Providing expert project support at The Children’s Society

Charity | 800 staff | Project Guidance


  • Organisation hadn’t run a CRM implementation of this scale before. There was experience across the leadership group and in some teams, but understanding the process change and shifts to behaviours, required of a project of this scale was not widespread.
  • Managing project through Covid.
  • Keeping project on track to agreed quality whilst organisation went through a significant restructure.


  • Provided project oversight and guidance to keep the project on track
  • Proposing of ways to predict and manage issues
  • Multiple Phased Go Lives of their CRM solution

Key services

  • Project guidance and support

The Children’s Society (TCS) are a national charity and have existed for 140 years. They support children in the critical, early stages of their lives. Through their project work they tackle exploitation and provide guidance and care.

Replacing a legacy system

TCS have been delivering a new CRM to replace an older legacy system. This has been delivered in multiple phases over an extensive timeline that reflects the scale and complexity of the project.

Catherine Zahra, Head of CRM and Data at TCS, explained that the new system was both a necessity and an aspiration for the charity: “there was a need to improve data quality and improve automation practises, to move away from being such a manual management of our data and looking for a product which would actually support The Children’s Society to raise more funds, better understand our supporter drivers and motivations, and also enable us to better communicate with our supporters.”

Expert project guidance

Hart Square had worked on earlier parts of this project, assisting with the initial scoping exercise for the system and the creation of the Invitation to Tender. But later Hart Square were asked to provide guidance and support for the project, supplementing the in-house project management skills TCS had with Hart Square’s extensive experience. “Because the organisation hadn’t done a project of this size before, there weren’t the skills or experience necessarily in house.”

Catherine explained that Hart Square were a particularly valuable resource for her project manager: “She’s a brilliant project manager but she’d never done a project at this scale before…” On tasks that the project manager had undertaken before, but not at this scale, “She massively benefited from Hart Square’s time and input based on their experience, to almost mentor her through those tasks.” Both for her project manager and for herself, Catherine explained that there was real value in having Hart Square there as a sounding board, “to help us just work through challenges or propositions for how we think we could move the project forward.”

“Our Project Manager massively benefited from Hart Square's time and input, based on their experience, to almost mentor her through those tasks. Hart Square helped us just work through challenges or propositions for how we think we could move the project forward.

Catherine Zahra
Head of CRM and Data, The Children’s Society

Maintaining buy-in

Due to the length of the project, Catherine explained that efforts had to be made to maintain buy-in within the organisation. “I would say that, as is typical with large IT change projects, everyone was very enthusiastic at the beginning. Everyone was brought in, everyone was cheerleading for it, everyone was ready to sign off.”

And whilst the enthusiasm for the project did not disappear forever, we discussed the challenge and skill required to maintain and manage the change piece, particularly along such an extensive timeline. Catherine expressed concern that organisations can underestimate this. “They say, ‘well isn’t that just comms?’ It’s not. It’s understanding behaviours. It’s understanding approaches.” She advised that organisations without a change management skill set consider bringing in someone external, even if only briefly, “just to look and help you set up a change process.”

Catherine had lots of useful advice for those embarking on a similar project. She stressed the importance of the long-term commitment that being a project sponsor on a project is, and the need for them to have difficult conversations at times, internally, to stress the importance of change despite its disruption. And, when messaging internally, how honesty is the best approach. “Overcommunicate with all users. Regular updates, be open and honest when things are going wrong, but also be open and honest when things are going really well.”

Let’s talk

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