This weeks episode is a Case Study from one of Cora’s Clients. The client is Health & Social Care Northern Ireland (HSCNI).

In this interview Cora’s Marketing Manager Richard Fitzpatrick talks to Pat Davis who is  Head of Programme & Project Management.

Project Management Paradise Podcast with Cora Systems Project Management Software
Pat will share with you how the introduction of  Cora’s Project Management software, ProjectVision has transformed the delivery of their programmes and projects.
Project Management Paradise Podcast with Cora Systems - Project Management Software
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Interview Summary

Interview Transcript – Pat Davis, Head of Programme and Project Management, Health and Social Care, Northern Ireland

00.12 I’m Pat Davis …I work for an organisation called the Business Service Organisation …and within that there is a section called ITS …I am the service resource manager … our organisation … ITS itself …supplies the IT services for health & social care in NI …

00.49 thank the good Lord … we’re part of the UK national health service …so health and social care is free …at the point of delivery …we’re slightly different from England … in that our social services and primary care and secondary care are integrated together …as a single service …we have that advantage … the health service as delivered in NI is delivered through an organisation and department … department of health and social care NI …

01.29 BSO itself has 1400 staff …across 31 locations … we supply 21 services to Health and Social Care in NI …ITS itself, the IT side of things … we have 245 employees … and ITS is responsible for things like the HR and payroll systems … a shared data centre … regional infrastructure … VoIP … the health and social care number …looking after desktops across the 70,000 clients that we have …mobile solutions … GPs and community care IT systems …referrals, patient admin systems …theatre management systems …laboratory systems …pharmacy systems …datawarehousing … accident & emergency …and the jewel in our crown … the electronic health and care number … £30M per year …across 98 projects …across 116 cost centres … those projects are divided into 24 transformation projects …14 growth projects …60 projects concerned with the running of the current systems …

03.00 with regard to delivery of the projects … the Health and Social Care board use us as a delivery organisation …they will commission individual projects … around clinical services …it’s our job to put together the proposal … write the business case …go out to the marketplace …and source a supplier of that service …work with the clinicians …to design the requirements …run the procurement competition …usually a EU-based competition …find a solution … put in that solution … train all the users up on that new service …

04.00 if you look back 10, 15 years …everybody would say that the Excel spreadsheet is king …everybody did their own thing …everybody had their own ideas as to how to properly deliver a project …the maturity of the delivery within the public sector was not very high …if you look at the Prince2 maturity model …people were doing their own thing … making their own reports …usually if you were in the situation where you were in charge of a number of projects you only found out about the project whenever it actually finished …or whenever it crashed and burned …it was all a bit hand to mouth

04.40 …when I first came into the organisation one of the first things I was asked to do was to do a review of projects and programme delivery …and make recommendations for the establishment of good practice …so that everybody was doing the right thing at the right time … and there was the monitoring in place …

05.13 there was no real control over the finances …nobody knew where the money was going …how it was being spent …there was no regular reporting …at the end of the year … people would be filling in spreadsheets …passing those spreadsheets to the line manager …the line manager would be taking the numbers in those spreadsheets …and putting it into other spreadhseets …so it went up to the line until you got to the top of the pyramid …where the numbers really meant nothing …at the end of the day …it was a strange and bizarre way to run an organisation that spent $30M per annum …

06.09 whenever I had established good practice I wanted to have a vehicle in which to drive home and establish the good practice … so like all good public sector employees … in order to carry out the procurement we carried out a public sector procurement in which we put down our requirements …we established a number of bidders …those bidders responded to those …we selected the best fit for our organisation …what we wanted to do against our requirements …also taking into account the price as well …

06.45 one of the things that was important to me was that we were starting off at a very low level of project, programme management but our aspirations were to establish the best practice that we could …we wanted to have a support solution that started off at an entry level and allowed us to develop the solution along with our own development of our maturity in project and programme delivery … that was one of the reasons we saw in Cora this ability to start small and to build to where we are now

07.38 before you start to begin to think about what PPM solution should I have and Cora’s PV is one of them … you’ve got to establish yourself … how is we are going to do projects … what I found with the Cora solution was that whenever we asked for the different bidders to come back with solutions we had presented to the bidders our good practice …and Cora was the only company that came back with a configured solution to show to us …that completely matched and integrated with our good practice …

08.28 governance and the recording of the project products that prove the achievement of specific stages … the classic Prince2 … SUIP delivery … and the project closedown …we were able to embed these governance, guidance within PV itself … we were also able to use PV as the central repository for critical documents so whenever an external audit was carried out …or is carried out of any of our projects …we can point them at PV and say there’s our governance … there’s our control mechanisms … there’s our risks and issues register … there’s all the critical documents …and their approvals and the stage approvals for moving the project forward …

09.35 … initially it wasn’t the benefit … it was an annoyance …because everyone had their own way of delivering a project …the establishment of standards meant that people had to change … the insistence that the evidence be recorded …of the achievement is a big thing … we have in the UK public sector a thing called Gateway Reviews in which external groups will look at your project and make a decision as to whether it’s been run good bad or indifferently …and to point out any issues that they may think you haven’t addressed …like have you engaged with the client server early on … do you have an implementation plan …are you keeping your Gantts up to date

10.23 …it gives the individual project managers a single point of support for the implementation of the project and delivery …it also gives the people higher up the food chain a program at portfolio level … an instantaneous view across all of the 98 projects as to where we are in them … it also allows issues and risks to be passed on up to the programme and portfolio level if decisions need to be made …there’s automated reporting …there’s the linkage to the financial expenditure as well …

11.14 it was a nightmare because everything had to be done by spreadsheet and by Word reports …

11.25 looking at how we now deliver projects and programmes compared to how we did is black and white … there’s no way that you can go back …there’s no way a modern organisation … a public sector organisation can hope to run an efficient and effective programme without some form of PPM tool …

12.01 there is control at two levels … control at the PM level …any PM can look at the guidance and the governance and see what we should be doing or what are the issues they should be attending to at that point in project delivery … then there is the control at the program level with regard to resource allocations …with regard to expenditures …and the bidding for future budgets

12.37 as well as project delivery I’m responsible for looking after the resource management for BAU activities … that is a very large part of the work that ITS does … we have now rolled out PV around this issues of Business As Usual resource management … so that I can now take a picture across the whole organisation of not only the program and project delivery but also the BAU activities …we are required to project into the future …what our BAU resource requirements are for the next 6, 12 months, 2 years … that can be done under PV … and then we record the actual resource utilisation against different activities … both commissioned and BAU …so we can see exactly where our staff are being used …we think we’re doing this and that and the other … but in reality we’re doing something completely different because of the issues that arise on a day to day basis …and we’re trapping those issues as well

13.57 the organisation is getting to grips with it … the project and programme delivery … they’re very happy with it …they’re very happy to get this snapshot once a quarter at director and CEO level …of where we are in regard to the program and project delivery … the reports that are coming from BAU are just beginning to come in …let’s say I haven’t got a reaction back from them on that there … it’s going to be very important in the future …if only to answer the question what the hell are you all doing?

14.37 a lot of IT within health and social care delivery is invisible as long as it works …everybody’s happy …but they don’t see the effort that is needed to make that work …they think that people sitting at a keyboard and a screen are sitting there doing nothing …or playing games on the screen …but in reality they’re working very hard … and this is evidence to show exactly what the work is that we’re doing …and to justify the investment that the public sector makes in us …as an organisation …to keep the lights on …to keep the clinical processes running …to support the professionals within Health and Social Care Delivery …

15.37 (financial reporting) that’s a very important aspect of the system …and was one of the main drivers …with all of these spreadsheets running about prior to that …we have linked the Cora solution ProjectVision with our finance systems …so that we can profile our budgets … the allocations that we’re getting from Health and Social Care Northern Ireland … we can ask individual project managers then to profile into the future their expenditures …link those expenditures with Product Deliveries …and then monitor the actual expenditure against the profiled expenditure and also against the budget allocations

16.22 in fact I’m working with Cora at the minute to expand that financial control even further … in recent years there’s been great risk (?) given to “yes you’re spending this money against your profiles and against your budgets but what about your business case approvals limits” and what about contractual obligations and expenditures …

16.45 I’m working with Cora to put together the business case and contractual modules where we can record the financial implications there and then to report right the way across so we’ll be reporting against expected expenditure … actual expenditure against expected expenditure …against a budget allocation …and also against our business case limits and our contractual limits to show that we’re keeping everything within the approved limits …

17.35 …to be perfectly honest about it …what makes my life easier is that it places a clear responsibility upon the project manager and the SRO …to take control of their project or program delivery … in the past it was a case of the person who was in the post before me …having to run after the PMs … having to run after the SROs … to try and get information out of them …and the PMs and SROs … and say “we’re far too busy delivering this project to worry about giving you a report … now I can actually see that report …now I can have instantaneous contact with all the PMs through the emails (?) systems …to remind them of their updates … automatic reminders can be put out …

18.25 with regard to the resource management and the recording of the information … their automatic reminders are sent to each individual to say “Hey, you haven’t filled in your resource sheet this week, you better get the hell on there to tell us what the hell you’ve been doing for the last week” …

18.43 it places the emphasis on the individual to deliver as a program manager or somebody who has responsibility to tie all this together around resourcing …it eases the burden on me personally … I don’t have to go chasing …the information is there for me to read …

19.09 … (working relationship with Cora) … whenever we plumbed for Cora …Cora was a much smaller organisation …there were some questions as to whether … were Cora the right vehicle …in order to take us on this journey …of maturity …over the years both Cora and ourselves have matured and grown … I’m very pleased with the service that I get with Cora … they know me personally …I know them personally …whenever I pick up the phone …they know the individual issues surrounding the configuration of my application …they’re willing to …look at my needs …and to develop next versions …in order to meet those …one of the big deliverables I’m hoping within the next 12 months … is this integration with Business Systems and Contract Management …

20.14 I’m very please that Cora as an organisation …can actually help me …some of the bigger organisations … you get lost in the overall intricacies of a system … I would like this that and the other and they say “oh, that’ll have to go on a list, you know” …we’ve got priorities …the Australians are asking for this … the Americans are asking for this …the Welsh are asking for that …I don’t know if your requirements can come to the top …now I’m sure that that will change …as Cora expands …internationally …but at this point in present time I am very happy with the personal services that I am getting from Cora …

21.11 I can only say that I went through the assessment of what’s out there … Cora came top …it’ll be up to each individual organisation …to do there own assessment …against their needs …but the big driver for me …with Cora is this aspect of being able to start small and grow …if you’re a very mature organisation …with regard to project delivery …Cora Systems can meet that … if you’re unsure or just starting off …in the maturity pathway …it’s a very good entry …but it’s not simple …it looks simple to work with … but it’s not simple …it is something that can start off …simple and then get more complex …and more sophisticated …as your complexity and sophistication grows within the organisation …