"The aim was to be able to collect some information about a project through an online form, press a button and there was your online support environment immediately," developer Andrew Brooks told a recent BCS Project Management Specialist Group meeting. "We were being asked to create project support environments several times a month and we were often reinventing the wheel."
Brooks, business services director at Barclays Solutions, the bank's internal consultancy, said his team looked at external and internal project management methods and standards, and created a single best practice environment that incorporated all the key components that project and programme managers needed.
The tSpace (transformation space) approach was created as a different way of looking at project and programme support.
"The intention was to move away from the traditional planning tool and resource-centric focus and move towards an emphasis on collaboration," Brooks said.
"We built tSpace using emerging standard software tools, in particular Microsoft's Sharepoint Portal Server. It is accessed by a browser, so there is no user software to install. TSpace offers collaboration tools, such as diaries and team news facilities. You can track and manage deliverables and milestones. Status reports are created online 90% automatically from tSpace content.
"There is risk and issue management, including triggers, alerts and approval management. You can analyse the risk structure across a portfolio or programme in different ways. There is support for standards and techniques, including online manuals and templates. A benefits management module covers ownership and benefits realisation.
"TSpace is underpinned by document and knowledge management, part of Sharepoint. That is very important: one aim has been to improve corporate knowledge about programmes and projects. People move on but the knowledge is still there: how long did it take last time, did we get benefit from that type of project, and other lessons.
"Through tSpace we are collecting all this knowledge from different projects in one repository, and it is easily accessible and searchable. The information is created at source, by project and programme managers.
"Executives and project owners can click on programmes and projects at any time, look at status reports, check the status against key indicators, and drill down to individual risks and issues."
Benefits from using the approach have emerged quickly. Brooks said, "People can start collaborating, sharing knowledge and focusing on project delivery very quickly.
"There have been cost savings. Previously, business units implemented their own solutions, but a common solution eliminates duplication. It used to take time to set up infrastructure and processes for a project office, now it is done in seconds."
TSpace was developed in four months. "We went live in June 2002 and now have more than 300 projects using it," Brooks said.