The Client

The Canal & River Trust is among the UK’s biggest charities set up to care for England and Wales’ 200-year-old waterways, with responsibility for 2,000 miles of canals, rivers, docks and reservoirs, along with museums, archives and the country’s third largest collection of protected historic buildings.

The Brief

The Trust issues licences to the vessels which navigate its waterways. These licences may be purchased for various types and size of boat, different durations and for use on all or a subset of the Trust’s waterways.  A number of purchase methods were already available, for example by post or over the telephone, but customers could not purchase licences online. The Trust recognised that the offline processes are not the most efficient use of Trust employees’ time and skills and do not meet the expectations of customers.

The Trust needed a web based licensing system so that;

  • Customers could register and link up with their boat details and purchase the correct licence for their boat online
  • Customers could easily renew their licences online
  • Renewals and Renewal Reminders could be sent out on a schedule to customers
  • Customer Services could quickly and easily identify customers and all their associated data so they could more easily complete licences and answer customer queries over the phone
  • Pricing data could be managed online
  • All correspondence templates could be managed online
  • All licence data could be sent overnight to their SAP system

The Solution

We developed the Web Licensing system using an Agile Development model. Using this approach we were in constant contact with the Trust, previewing versions of the software every two weeks which they could test and use themselves, making sure we were developing the right thing for them at every stage. This allowed us to adapt and change the development plan as the Trusts priorities and requirements changed during development. The resulting solution was consequently delivered on time, meet the Trust’s budget and fulfilled their requirements exactly.


The successful implementation of the web licensing system that works on all devices delivered a range of benefits to both the customers and the customer services team. Customers are now able to buy and renew licences quickly and easily online using a very simple website. They can download their latest licences when they need them and update their details when they change. In addition the customer services team are more able to help and guide customers through the process of buying licences and are able to complete postal applications using the same ‘Impersonation’ tools provided by the back end admin system.

In the first year over 20,000 boaters have used the site and have purchased over 33,000 licences.