With an organisational merger facing the existing five CCGs in Norfolk and four CCGs in Lincolnshire, the senior finance teams in both health systems needed specialist project management support in merging their Oracle finance ledgers.
NHS Arden & GEM CSU’s finance service was engaged to provide a dedicated and experienced project management team to each merger. By working collaboratively with the CCG finance teams, utilising our significant experience of liaising with NHS Shared Business Services (SBS) and bringing together other key stakeholders, we were able to successfully achieve all project milestones.
As a result, the CCGs were able to mobilise for their ‘go-live’ date while maintaining normal business functions.
Understanding the challenge
CCGs throughout England have been encouraged to consider mergers to support system-wide thinking and streamlined commissioning. As a consequence, April 2020 saw 74 existing CCGs merging to establish 18 new ones.
With experience of supporting previous successful ledger merger projects, including the creation of NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG in 2018, Arden & GEM’s project finance team was engaged by CCGs in Lincolnshire and Norfolk to support their local finance teams with this task.
"The knowledge and experience of key personnel in the CSU team with regards to the SBS ledger system, together with the additional capacity, was essential in ensuring that the CCG met the necessary deadlines for this project."
Matt Dale, Financial Controller at NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG
Robust planning, effective relationship management and achieving key milestones would be fundamental to meeting the merger go-live date of 1 April 2020.
Developing a solution
Experts from Arden & GEM’s finance project team worked collaboratively with the CCGs’ senior finance teams and other key stakeholders, such as internal and external audit.
Our dedicated project manager and support team also provided:
- Preparation of project highlight reports for Project Boards
- Chairing Project Boards and local team meetings
- Delivery of plans to the agreed timescales and milestones, including sign off.
This partnership approach, combined with the CSU’s breadth of knowledge of the Oracle ISFE system, enabled risks and issues to be swiftly rectified.
Mitigating risks and issues
Our team conducted an initial review which enabled the early identification of common risks and issues, including:
the volume of data templates to be completed
third party interdependencies such as NHS Supply Chain and external payroll.
Throughout the projects, our team ensured that data templates were completed accurately and delivered on time. These included:
- Chart of accounts amendments
- Cleansing and reviewing 40,000 general ledger code combinations
- Creation of merged customers and suppliers, with 4,800 customers and 10,000 suppliers cleansed and reviewed.
We liaised with NHS Supply Chain and payroll to ensure their merged systems would interact correctly with the merged ledger and facilitated any necessary amendments. We also coordinated with the IT department to identify and close IT gaps.
The team’s well-established relationships with SBS enabled us to provide an effective interface with the CCG, facilitating decision-making around new processes and new ways of working to meet the requirements of the merged ledger.
This was aided by:
- Providing regular updates to the SBS project team for checkpoint reporting and escalated risks and issues
- Completing all templates within deadlines.
"Great communication all the way through. The project manager and her team are very experienced and were always able to help and advise. They ensured we met all the deliverables on the timetable and understood what they would do and what CCG input would be required. Our transition to one CCG from four was very smooth thanks to the work and support provided by them."
Emma Frost, Associate Director of Finance at NHS Lincolnshire CCG
The respective CCG ledger mergers in Lincolnshire and Norfolk were successful and both went live, as planned, on 1 April 2020.
Our team continued to work with the newly merged CCGs to offer post-project support, providing advice and guidance, answering questions and queries, and troubleshooting. This support was maintained until a business as usual position was reached.
By bringing the right people and expertise together, we were able to ensure that both projects were undertaken in a controlled and positive manner to minimise any impact on the day-to-day service of the CCGs or their suppliers.
The team provided a responsive and proactive approach in supporting the CCGs to achieve all project milestones, despite the unprecedented pressures related to the COVID-19 response.
"I would like to say how very impressed I am with Arden & GEM’s project team; it’s rare to find such a continued positive can-do attitude, matched with technical ability. Without your support I have no doubt that this project would not have been as successful as it was."
Emma Kriehn-Morris, Associate Director of Financial Management at NHS Norfolk and Waveney CCG