Manchester keeps 700-plus projects on time and in line with new system

Manchester City Council has deployed a project management system to help its 700-plus projects meet deadlines and budgets.

Manchester City Council has deployed a project management system to help its 700-plus projects meet  deadlines and budgets.

The local authority wanted a new system because its departments were starting projects using different procedures and greater clarity became an urgent need.

Manchester chose support services company Atkins-Mantix as its partner. Atkins-Mantix developed the application and the council officers supplied the business processes.

The target for the new system, the progress of which was the subject of an in-depth case study in Computer Weekly earlier this year (28 March), is for 65% of projects to be delivered within five percentage points of the original budget. Projects are expected to meet this standard within two years of the system’s launch.

Some 70% of projects are expected to be finished within five percentage points of the original time allocated for the work.

By ensuring that projects run more smoothly, the council expects to reduce its spend on consultants by 10% within two years.

Challenges were encountered during the deployment of the application. The council said, "The issues were extremely diverse delivery cultures, a silo culture in many departments, a resistance to change the status quo, poorly defined responsibility and accountability and reluctant buy in from departmental management teams."

Manchester’s project management working group opted to tailor Prince2 after deciding against adopting the pure standard. "It was obvious from the start and through visits to other local authorities that Prince2 in its purest form was not going to be an acceptable approach. The team included service-delivery elements that would be more acceptable to some departments."

The 700-plus projects cost Manchester £270m a year and cover all 25,500 council employees.

One of the first major projects to be managed using the new system will deliver electronic social care records and a single assessment process for people seeking social care. The Manchester Information and Recording Environment project will both deliver these applications and integrate them with the council’s architecture.

Manchester uses SAP R3 for its customer relationship management, finance and human resources systems.

The Atkins-Mantix application can be updated using Microsoft Project. It also acts as the document management system for the council’s planning service.

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