A Rapid Project Online Deployment Supporting Strategic Change at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Kensington and Chelsea (K&C) is the smallest borough in London but is one of the most densely populated boroughs in the UK. In 2023, K&C separated its Digital, Data and Technology (DD&T) function from that of their bi-borough partner with whom it had been in a shared service arrangement for a number of years.  The bi-borough IT service had been supported since 2019 by a Microsoft Project Online configuration provided by Microsoft Gold Partner, Wellingtone. The disaggregation from their bi-borough partner was a major transformation initiative for The Project Management Office (PMO) at K&C, which included the need for a new instance of Project Online to replace the previous bi-borough IT configuration shared with the bi-borough partner.

Kensington and Chelsea Case Study | Wellingtone

Overview

Customer

Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Products and Services

Microsoft Project Online

Microsoft Power BI

Country

United Kingdom

Industry

Local Government

Key Benefits

  • A rapid deployment, from requirements to user adoption in just 12 weeks.
  • An iterative approach, focusing on prioritised, manageable delivery.
  • Portfolio visibility, status reporting, and resource capacity planning are in place to support change programmes.
  • A mutually flexible customer/consultant relationship to support speedy delivery.

Meeting a Challenging Delivery Deadline as Part of a Wider Transformation Landscape

The DD&T Project Manager Office (PMO) Manager at K&C, Andrew Homan, was previously part of the PMO team that worked with Wellingtone to deliver the original bi-borough Project Online configuration in 2019 and now led K&C’s structure of its own Project Online environment in 2023, again supported by Wellingtone’s Portfolio and Project Management (PPM) and technical expertise. “It was clear that the separation of K&C’s IT services from the bi-borough partner was going to be a disruptive transformational period,” he recalls, “and deploying a new instance of Project Online was a key deliverable in the K&C disaggregation programme.”

Prior to the separation, the bi-borough IT PMO team had established a resource capacity planning capability into Project Online with Wellingtone’s help. “We rolled out that capability for the bi-borough partner in July and December 2022 to enable the leadership team to identify resource shortfalls ahead of the separation of the two councils”. Meanwhile, K&C was preparing for the full disaggregation. “At that point, I stepped over to K&C’s PMO. We had a hard deadline of 31 March 2023 to have the K&C version of Project Online up and running. As part of the disaggregation, we also had a new set of project managers who needed Project Online familiarisation and training during that period. Looking back, our established relationship with Wellingtone and their in-depth understanding of our environment played a key role in meeting that deadline.”

There is no doubt that Wellingtone’s expertise, process, and knowledge of us as an organisation played a pivotal role in getting us to this point so rapidly.

Andrew Homan, PMO Manager

An Iterative Approach to Configuration Priorities

K&C was also moving towards a more agile working approach, Andrew adds. “In fact, that shift in mindset was well aligned to how we handled the Project Online work,” says Andrew. “To make the tight turnaround feasible, we needed to break the project down into pragmatic, manageable milestones. The immediate priority was visibility so that K&C’s new PMO could begin RAG-based status reporting to a Portfolio Review Group that met every two weeks.

Because Wellingtone’s implementation consultant already knew us from the bi-borough period, the requirement-gathering and configuration phase could be accelerated, and our consultant added a lot of value from the beginning. They walked us through a checklist of decisions and kept things as simple as possible. That made it possible for us to take quick decisions so that Wellingtone could go all-out to complete the technical build in just a few weeks (based on their existing client schedule and availability), deploy and test the solution, and then move straight to user training with the minimum of delay.”

For both Wellingtone and K&C, there were capacity challenges, Andrew explains. “The Lead PPM Consultant showed flexibility and goodwill to accommodate the time scales from Wellingtone’s perspective. From our side, we agreed to handle the data migration ourselves manually rather than wait for an available slot in Wellingtone’s schedule. We launched and onboarded the core configuration on time, and our existing relationship with Wellingtone enabled both parties to work collaboratively to get that done.”

Serving Leadership Priorities with Resource Capacity Planning

Wellingtone’s previous work with Andrew on the bi-borough resource capacity planning laid the foundations to introduce a similar capability into K&C’s configuration. “That was a strategic consideration,” Andrew says. “With wider change initiatives ahead, our leadership needed fast visibility across the resourcing pipeline. In the bi-borough environment, we had portfolio visibility and status reporting but no insight into the new K&C project pipeline. We adapted the old bi-borough framework to create K&C’s initial capability and we worked closely with Wellingtone to develop the required system configuration. We didn’t expect resource and capacity planning to yield immediate results – not least because it takes time to fully engage people with the processes behind the data. But, from a standing start, we are building up sound resourcing data and can broadly pinpoint future capacity shortfalls. In my experience, that’s pretty much where we should be at this point after about four months.

Wellingtone provided high-quality training for project managers as well as for our Project Online administrators. Our PMO team are now coaching system users on an ongoing basis to make sure our project managers can use Project Online consistently and confidently. We are also developing a PMO team member to become our central resourcing expert. They will support project managers in using the resource capacity planning module, as well as using Project Online and Power BI more generally. It’s all part of the continuous improvement approach that the PMO is championing.”

By July 2023, K&C’s Project Online configuration had only been live for four months. But, Andrew says, “We’re up and running with the right toolkit. Status reporting is embedded, we’re making progress with resource and capacity planning, and we’re ready to scale up and use the tools to support a big transformational programme that’s about to start. We’re also starting to think about future development, in terms of project financial reporting, agile projects and BAU capacity. We are, in a nutshell, where I would hope to be at this point. I would say to anyone considering implementing a PPM tool like this, it’s important to get the basic configuration deployed as quickly as possible. Full adoption takes longer but, once the fundamentals are in place, you can start to add value straight away. Plus, you’ll have the foundations in place to build your PPM capabilities in manageable steps. There is no doubt that Wellingtone’s expertise, process, and knowledge of us as an organisation played a pivotal role in getting us to this point so rapidly.”