Who are Warwickshire Council?
Warwickshire is located towards the heart of England. Containing famous historical towns, it’s nestled just outside of The Cotswolds’ area of national beauty to the south, and big, bustling Birmingham City to the West. The journey for Warwickshire Council has been that of the tortoise. Slowly and steadily they have been moving towards a more robust and strategic framework to make valuable and sustainable change in the way they achieve the goals they have set for their area. Working with Verto throughout has allowed the platform they chose to grow with them, through their project development and as an organisation.
Warwickshire Council needed to shift towards a new mindset in a gradual way and Verto allowed them to start small and have it expand as they added more of their project information in, rather than a sudden organisational shift.
Initially, the Council was finding it increasingly difficult to run projects and initiatives proficiently while using a mixture of systems that didn’t connect with each other. This caused a lack of governance and accountability across the workforce. The systems in place at Warwickshire were disjointed, they weren’t providing the data needed; a lack of transparency of any savings resulting from project outcomes, for example, or an understanding of the progress being made from project to project.
Furthermore, all reporting was subjective. Spreadsheets were used to contain the bulk of the data needed, which were found to be an out of date and an almost never accurate system. Project management documents and governance reporting was light on the ground and databases were manual and used to make the detail fit.
Verto initially demonstrated to a small team of business analysts with project management experience, showcasing a traditional set of PM tools that allows all project activity to be recorded in one place and in a single format. This led to Warwickshire being able to define a business case for Verto and then spend time testing the system to make sure it could fulfil their needs. Since then, Warwickshire have steadily developed their Verto site, adding and building the elements needed one step at a time.
They initially prioritised the adding of revenue-generating project information into Verto. One of the main challenges that any local authority faces is funding, so it was important to show stakeholders that the money spent was generating successes, even in the early stages. Warwickshire then began re-directing new, and small, project activity over to the new system.
There were a few larger, historical projects, that were far too cumbersome to warrant a move across. Therefore, Warwickshire benefitted from Verto’s ability to stick to their pace while they continued to outgrow these large projects on old systems. Now any new projects, however large, begin their life and are managed throughout, in Verto.
The system was built as tools that the wider team could pick up and maintain. Projects now move through gateway stages as they progress from a proposal, to a gateway group who scrutinise and develop the plans into working activities. Only then is a project manager assigned. During the live stage of the project, deliverables are managed 100% through Verto and once the project is completed, any financial benefits can move into benefits realisation and be fully reported on.
Verto built a system where data inputted at the front end was automatically allocated to inform the right teams of people at the right time. The layered template is malleable and customisable so the person inputting the data could easily direct information using Verto’s intuitive configuration.
The Warwickshire team also take advantage of the detailed, customisable reports, that they themselves generate, as a result of the information Verto now possesses.
Verto has now been rolled-out out across the whole organisation, from having a handle on projects such as those to set-up new teams, right through to large transformational huge-scale, huge-investment programmes. Recent projects, powered by Verto, have been focused on their Covid response. They have built custom reports, directly for use by their Cabinet, to show how they have been tackling the pandemic within the area.
Since implementing Verto, the group of Directors at Warwickshire now have a much better handle on project work happening across the organisation and their own departments have better focus on benefits, risk, assurance, and governance. In November 2020, after showing consistent gains in time-saving efficiencies, financial benefits and hitting repeated organisational goals, a fully-fledged project Management Office (PMO) team was created as a direct result of the work with Verto.
“Verto has enabled a joined-up project management framework, supported by a PMO, with knowledgeable staff in place who understand where upcoming pressures are likely to be, and up-coming savings are likely to be, allowing a much better future-view of the business”Vix Watson, Business Analyst at Warwickshire Council
The next steps involve two parts. The first is to further develop the internal systems and processes, using more of Verto’s functionality over time to build out the system to take on more. The second part is training the wider workforce to be more self-serving to generate reports, create dashboards and store information.
Robust resourcing and performance management elements, are needed, to support the ability to assign staff members to projects, track their time spend against project outcomes and audit effectively.
Project-wise, once the wider team have been fully trained on using the system operationally, they will import larger capital projects (major building schemes) into Verto for complete end-to-end management of every new project. All data captured on huge csv spreadsheets in the future will automatically filter through into Verto, such as data-heavy projects and government-funded programmes. Also, financial strategy functionality, including savings, that are linked to projects will be tracked and monitored as part of the project outcomes through Verto.