Time for Change
Supporting the healthcare needs of diverse communities requires constant focus. ICHT and LNWH manage hundreds of projects each year aimed at improving services and outcomes cost-effectively. However, as health issues became more challenging in recent years, project management operations were proving sub-optimal.
“We both had a heavy dependence on manual processes,” explains James Biggin-Lamming, Transformation Programme Director at LNWH. “Spreadsheets were filled in for each project, then passed on for other information to be added. They were both siloed systems, which made it difficult to understand what was happening across the portfolio and accurately assess costs and risks. The rework required was affecting staff productivity. With annual expenditure of around £2bn between us, improving our performance was imperative.”
With project portfolios increasing in scale and complexity each year to match the changing health environment, the trusts both believed they needed the power of an online cloud platform to replace the current manual system. The new solution must deliver an easily accessed, up-to-date version of the truth for all projects, enabling project outcomes to be tracked and accurately assessed.
“We both had specific objectives for improving our own project management systems, but we also recognised the growing importance of collaboration in the NHS, and the benefits we could get from standardising the way we do things,” says James Biggin-Lamming. “We both run huge hospitals within a few miles of each other. Many projects have an impact well beyond the boundaries of individual trusts, so it makes sense to have repeatable processes to help you easily share.”
ICHT began discussing its future project management requirements with CPS, a multi-award-winning Microsoft Gold Partner with project management as a core service.
The two trusts agreed to work with CPS to find a project management solution that could be managed separately by each trust but enabled easy collaboration between the organisations. “The key was to maintain our independent operations but establish common processes and a common ‘language’,” says James Biggin-Lamming.
Agreeing on the solution platform was made easier because both trusts used Microsoft technologies, meaning they could access a wide range of proven project management tools while leveraging their investment. The Microsoft platform would make it easier for users to get up to speed with new processes and avoid complications of additional sign-on arrangements.
CPS had the Microsoft expertise to propose an effective solution, and its wider role as a partner was also critical. “CPS listened to how we described what we wanted and played back our ideas in an intuitive, structured way,” says James Biggin-Lamming. “CPS was very important in getting our different views sorted out and giving us space during the uncertainty of Covid. I’m sure many other consultants would have walked away!”
The agreed solution was designed and delivered by CPS within a modest budget. Called TrakIT, the solution provides the trusts with a set of online project workflow processes, a comprehensive reporting system with Microsoft Power BI dashboards, and a document library that captures project information for sharing within and between organisations.
Bespoke and Collaborative
The solution is flexible. It enables organisations to tailor the system to their own ways of working but is designed so that each trust can see across its own boundaries to projects being managed by other trusts.
TrakIT has helped to accelerate project collaboration and is supporting consistent management information. Since April 2022, four hospital trusts, including Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and LNWH, have shared a chair, and in the Summer of 2022, they announced a common board. “The direction of travel for management information is quite clearly collaborative, and TrakIT will support this,” James Biggin-Lamming says.
Since TrakIT was implemented, three more London NHS organisations, North West London Integrated Care Board, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, have joined the partnership.
With nearly 700 staff members using the system across four trusts, TrakIT is starting to deliver significant benefits. One of the most apparent advantages over the previous system is the time saved by staff in completing their project management tasks. By removing re-keying and manual roll-up of data and eliminating data inaccuracies, an average of one hour of a user’s time is estimated to be saved each week or 3,500 days a year in aggregate.
The system provides both organisations with one version of the truth for all project information so that reporting is now real-time and accurate and enables easy assessment of individual projects’ impact, progress, timelines and risks. This transparency will enable better and more cost-effective decision-making, which is crucial for NHS trusts now and in future. Sharing project information between trusts will also engender learning and insights.
Although project documentation is more widely available than in the past, project data is held in a single location on the NHS central tenant database. This environment is much more secure than when data was stored on spreadsheets and other documents that could easily be removed and lost. Central storage also means that access and usage can be audited.
TrakIT has been designed so other trusts can quickly and easily adopt it. James Biggin-Lamming has demoed it to three other organisations beyond North West London and believes it has potential for wider use within the NHS.
Meanwhile, plans are in place to refine the system’s functionality. The project library’s search function will work like a hashtag in the future so that users can search projects intuitively through a keyword.
The NHS has limited funds for digital enhancements, so future developments rely on CPS to deliver its requirements creatively and cost-effectively. “TrakIT is now a comprehensive application,” says James Biggin-Lamming, “so we need pure technical expertise from CPS to help us develop it. We also really value their ability to take our ideas and translate them into workable digital processes that exceed our expectations.”
- Staff productivity has improved by a measure of 3,500 days a year.
- Accurate and comprehensive information about all projects enables better decisions.
- Opportunities to leverage collaboration and greater functionality long-term.
- Staff members save one hour a week on project tasks.
- One version of the truth provides transparency for all project information, with data safely stored.
- Improved decision-making will result in saving NHS funds and increase benefits realisation.
- Individual trusts can tailor the system to their requirements while collaborating more easily with each other.