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Header image for the current page Improving project delivery for the ICB and GP practices in Northamptonshire

Improving project delivery for the ICB and GP practices in Northamptonshire

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In May 2022, NHS Northamptonshire ICB transferred responsibility for IT project management to the Arden & GEM IT service. A new team was put in place and tasked with establishing effective governance, clear communication and a more collaborative approach to working with practices.

As a result, projects are now being delivered on time, within budget and to a high standard, with positive feedback received from the ICB, practice staff and IT operations.

The challenge

Effective project management is key to the successful delivery of IT services. For change to be productive and lasting it needs to deliver benefits, involve regular communication, with robust governance and clear lines of accountability.

When NHS Northamptonshire ICB transferred its live projects to Arden & GEM in May 2022, it was looking for all of the above to be implemented to give its employees, and the 93 GP practices they represent, complete confidence in project delivery. The ICB’s previous IT provider had been dissolved, leaving little to no documentation in place for existing projects and no project team available to transfer across.

Arden & GEM’s IT Project and Programme Management and Delivery (PPMD) team would need to quickly put resource, processes and governance in place to get service critical projects back on track and restore confidence in delivery.

Our approach

The PPMD team’s first step was to recruit a programme manager who understood local challenges and had knowledge of the practices.

Understanding requirements
A list of key actions was then developed and prioritised, drawing on the knowledge of the wider PPMD team and engagement with stakeholders. This included:

This became the roadmap and ethos for the newly formed Northamptonshire project team to improve experience, delivery and accountability.

Setting up governance and documentation
Regular project meetings were immediately organised for inflight projects, and relevant project documentation was completed. This included progress reports and monthly highlight reports to ensure project stakeholders were fully informed.

Internal monthly IT operations and project team meetings were set up, along with a dedicated MS Teams channel, to enable a more collaborative way of working. Internal teams can now keep each other informed of project/operation updates that may impact colleagues.

Delivering quick wins
A number of incomplete and stalled projects were identified which could be quickly delivered with the new team and governance processes in place. For example, during the transition period, an incomplete Wi-Fi project was discovered. By sending out a survey to all practices, a clear understanding of outstanding issues was compiled and the project team was able to work closely with each practice, the third party Wi-Fi provider and local IT support team to remediate issues raised. A similar collaborative approach was also taken to deliver HSCN upgrades and a practice transfer.

Improving stakeholder engagement
A fresh approach to stakeholder engagement was adopted, particularly with GP practices to:

Open communication channels were established, including a shared central mailbox, accessed by the whole team to ensure a timely response to queries. To improve engagement with practice managers, an initial communication was produced at the start of each project to outline the project purpose, deliverables and benefits, with the proposed timescales. This ensured project awareness and that planned work could be carried out with minimal disruption.

When scheduling project work, the project team provided as much notice as possible and sent out a series of communications including an introduction to the team members attending the practice, calendar appointments and reminders. A holistic view of projects was taken to ensure delivery with the minimal amount of site disruption e.g. grouping necessary downtime.

Capturing project feedback and lessons learned
To understand how the changes in governance, stakeholder engagement and delivery personnel were perceived, a project feedback survey was developed. This survey was sent to each practice after completion of onsite project work. The survey gathers feedback on project and team performance across communication, onsite work, overall satisfaction as well as suggestions for improvement.

"[The team] introduced themselves. Answered all my silly questions and explained what they were doing. Waited for the go head before switching the system off and (ignoring the unforeseen issues) got the job done really quickly. Left me a number to contact them on if there were further issues."

Michelle Carroll, Practice Manager at Spinney Brook Medical Centre

The outcomes

As a result of the collaborative working relationships formed with GP practices, the ICB and IT operations, the project team has successfully delivered inflight projects and several new projects. This has been achieved to a high standard, within budget and with positive feedback received from the ICB, practice staff and IT operations.

Longstanding complex issues from incomplete projects have been resolved and the overall project experience for customers in Northamptonshire has been improved.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Clare and the team for the excellent work they have delivered over the last 12+ months to support the IT infrastructure for General Practice. Projects have been delivered on time and regular reporting has been given to the ICB to provide assurance and updates. The IT infrastructure is so key to the delivery of safe services in General Practice and the team have worked really closely with both the staff within the practices and the ICB."

Julie Lemmy, Director of Primary Care at NHS Northamptonshire ICB

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