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NHS property arm delivers £30m extra work a year with digital PM tool

27 March 2019 | By Stephen Cousins

NHS Property Services has increased efficiency and delivered an extra £30m of capital construction work a year using a new integrated project management tool, its developer claims.

The online software, developed by PMWeb and implemented by Dutch consultant Primaned, was rolled out by the government-run property owner and manager in 2016 as part of a £32m business transformation programme.

The software enables capital project teams, including NHS staff and consultants, to collaborate across multiple areas of construction management, including estimation, cost management, scheduling and project management. Clients can monitor and coordinate project delivery across multiple projects and identify areas that require attention via integrated real-time dashboards and business intelligence reports.

The transition to PMWeb, from a largely inefficient process of using Excel spreadsheets, phone calls, emails and paper documentation, has enabled NHS PS to ramp up its delivery and spend its annual £80m capital programme budget, where previously it struggled to deliver £50m of work a year, said Primaned

Sjef van Vugt, account manager for NHS PS at Primaned, told BIM+: “As a governmental organisation, NHS PS must be able to meet its budgets to ensure effective healthcare for its main stakeholders – the people of England. It had a five-year timeline to hit the capital spending budget and we are proud that we helped them manage that in just three years. Over the coming year they expect to spend around £95m and dig into a backlog of work.”

The software enables capital project teams to collaborate across multiple areas of construction management

According to van Vugt, the organisation was able to boost productivity using the same in-house team without hiring any additional staff.

NHS PS was established in 2013 as part of health system reforms to manage, maintain and improve NHS properties and facilities previously owned by strategic health authorities and primary care trusts. It brings together 161 different organisations and is responsible for 3,500 buildings, or roughly 10% of NHS real estate.

The Business Systems Transformation Programme required the purchase of a new financial system, a new asset management system, and a system for managing capital projects during the construction phase, including new builds, renovation and extension projects.

Speaking at an event in March, Alasdair White, head of construction at NHS PS, said: “When I first joined the organisation we had one massive financial spreadsheet and when we went through and analysed it around 50% of the data did not need to be on there and 50% of the projects were old and didn’t need to be on there because people were not cleaning the data out.

“We wanted to get much better control and visibility on what projects were active with multi-level reporting, at both project and portfolio level.”

PMWeb was selected as the most complete solution, meeting NHS PS requirements to gain “insight” and creating a more efficient organisation. Primaned says around 300 active projects are currently held within the system. An intuitive workflow module allows the NHS PS to build its business processes into the system, and the real-time dashboards and business intelligence reports help improve productivity, transparency and accountability. 

All NHS PS staff and external consultants work from the same project templates and having all information on a single system allows NHSPS to access consistent reports for all its major KPIs.

“NHSPS has numerous contractors and consultancy firms responsible for construction delivery and they wanted a tool that would involve them in the main project management framework and give project managers a more efficient method of working,” says Jan Vogel, senior consultant at Primaned. “They wanted to increase the volume of projects they could handle and support business processes to create a more transparent and uniform way of working.”

PMWeb can be accessed via any web-enabled device, including smartphones, tablets and laptops. BIM functionality is not currently being exploited by NHSPS: “An early decision was made to not implement more functionality than the organisation could handle at the time,” says Vogel. However, PMWeb is able to import a BIM models and carry out material take-offs and now the software is fully embedded at NHSPS, it is looking to move the software into areas such as estimating in BIM and accessing model data.

White commented: “I see PMWeb as a real enabler that has helped us to increase the amount of spend and reinvestment back into the NHS system by almost 100% in three years. Software, people and process were all critical to achieving that.”