Working with Dudley Metropolitan Council

Dudley MBC turned to Verto to implement a simple easy to use system that would provide a robust fund management solution and easy access to quality management information.

Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council (MBC) is one of the 152 county councils and unitary authorities across England. County councils and unitary authorities are responsible for all services in their local areas. However, they work closely with partners to ensure these services are delivered in line with the needs of their local population.

Dudley MBC has an annual budget of around £740 million and serves a population of nearly 313,000 across 24 wards. It is committed to building an effective and dynamic organisation, delivering services in partnership and helping communities to help themselves.

Like all local authorities, Dudley MBC has a complex structure made up of the full council and its various committees, directorates and services. It has to report regularly on its progress in delivering its plans, both within the council itself, to central government and other regulatory bodies, and to its various partners.

What Dudley MBC wanted to achieve

Prior to using Verto, Dudley MBC managed all its projects using spreadsheets and Microsoft Project. Aware that this could lead to a rather ad hoc approach, they also had a comprehensive manual to help staff work to a common project management system. However, at 90 pages it was too long for most people to read in detail.

As a result, there was no consistency in how the authority was managing projects across its different departments.

This inconsistent approach also meant the authority had no clear oversight of all its projects, or of each project’s status, activity and spend. PMO staff found it onerous to pull together even basic information, and if they didn’t know the right person to speak to in each department, the task was even harder.

Dudley MBC wanted a system that would be easy to use, flexible and that would give them easy access to quality management information. They also felt it would be appropriate to have a more robust way to manage public funds.

How we’re helping Dudley MBC achieve their goals

Dudley MBC bought Verto in December 2015 and went live with it at the start of the new financial year in April 2016.

Before going live the authority’s PMO manager set up their programme management and reporting processes and configured Verto in line with them.

Verto is a God send. It’s so simple, responsive and easy to use. We now have a clear picture of all our projects. We can produce a phenomenal number of reports and the tags that allow us to filter report information are brilliant. Verto is helping us develop our project management capability too. And the team at TMI are really helpful. They’re very good at sharing what they’ve done for other authorities. And when I asked for a couple of new reports, I had them within three days.

Michael Wooldridge, Portfolio Management Office Manager, Dudley MBC

The benefits Dudley MBC is seeing

Dudley MBC now has one easy-to-use system that is supporting their project management processes. This means staff across departments are managing their projects in a much more consistent way. However, as is inevitable, different departments and projects occasionally require a slightly different approach. Because Verto is so flexible, the PMO team have found it easy to accommodate this.

The PMO team have also found Verto is saving them time and allowing the authority to spend less on back office functions and more on project delivery. As staff across the authority are all working in the same way on the same system, the PMO need to do less running around, chasing information. Instead, it’s all there on one screen for them to access whenever they need. As Michael Wooldridge said, “If everyone does a little, no one has to do a lot.”

Setting up projects is now much quicker. It is easy for management staff to see the business case for new projects and to assess how they fit with the rest of the council’s work, both in terms of projected outcomes and costs.

The PMO team is finding it easy to assess risks and dependencies across their entire portfolio of projects. And they can produce detailed, bespoke reports in just two clicks. This is helping them identify and realise savings, manage risk and monitor progress and outcomes. For example, they can easily see what’s coming next, upcoming deadlines and who is responsible for a particular project or activity.

The consistent approach to programme management the council now enjoys is also helping them train their staff in project management best practice. They’ve found the way Verto is structured is helping staff plan and ask the right questions about the potential benefits, risks, costs, savings and timescale of their projects.

Dudley MBC have also found they are more easily identifying a wide range of benefits, over and above financial savings. For example, Verto has highlighted how technology can support the authority in its work, supporting communication, planning and collaboration.

Perhaps the biggest benefit Dudley MBC report comes from the project managers. They said they use Verto as a schedule of works because the detailed information it gives them is exactly what they need to plan their work – with the added benefit they can also see all the related projects.

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