An organisation set up by Sheffield City Council is using project management software to help it manage a £1bn investment programme in 55,000 council-owned houses.
Sheffield Homes was established by Sheffield City Council as an "arm's length management organisation" in response to the challenge set by the government to meet the Decent Homes target for council houses by 2010.
The building contractors working on Decent Homes are due to replace 45,000 bathrooms, 300,000 kitchen units, 80,000 doors and 35,000 central heating systems, along with 250,000 windows.
With a building project of this scale and only a small team, Sheffield Homes turned to project management software from Delcam, integrated with a Microsoft Office electronic project management system.
The roll-out cost less than £100,000 including software, implementation, hosting, administration, data import and user training. The system supports approximately 100 users in 10 organisations.
According to Richard Whittaker, investment manager at Sheffield Homes, the Delcam system provided Sheffield Homes, and its five partner organisations with better visibility of the work going on at any time. The system also supplied an audit trail to cover any changes or deviations from the plan.
"Without such a system it was feared that it would be necessary to go to several different places to obtain status information, and that agreements made, for example, through e-mail messages or attached documents would be difficult to manage," Whittaker said.
The system allowed Sheffield Homes to offer better management reporting and exception reporting, leading to a more efficient operation, Whittaker said. It also cut the time spent compiling and producing reports, as more accurate visibility of changes led to reduced errors and better quality.
Any problems with the home improvement programme could be better tracked and dealt with because the system assigned responsibility to individuals.
Whittaker said the system also allowed better compliance with audit requirements because there was an audit trail of who did what when and all documents had proper version control.
With the Decent Homes budget climbing from £14m to £132m in three years, the system has been invaluable, Whittaker said. "Having the system meant that our small team could effectively run this major project."