Vistry Group PLC is a top five UK housebuilder by volume and was awarded Large Housebuilder of the Year at the Housebuilder Awards 2021. The group’s purpose as a responsible developer is to work in partnership to deliver sustainable homes, communities, and social value, leaving a lasting legacy of places people love.

In November 2022, Vistry Group announced the completion of its combination with Countryside Partnerships, creating a leading capability across all housing tenures at a time when there is an acute need for affordable housing.

Vistry Group Purple Logo

Overview

Customer

Vistry Group

Products and Services

Microsoft Project for the web

Accelerator+ Power App

Country

United Kingdom

Industry

Construction

Key Benefits

  • Enhancing the core platform with Wellingtone’s Accelerator+ Power App.
  • Standardising project planning, delivery, and governance for a consistent approach.
  • Saving workhours with intuitive usability and reporting for both accidental and professional project managers.
  • Driving lessons learned and repeatable success with a central data repository and insights.

Supporting Vistry Group’s growth agenda and change portfolio from within the IT Team is Tim Bayes, Head of Business Change, who joined Vistry Group in January 2022. He has been working with Microsoft Gold Partner, Wellingtone, to implement a Microsoft Project for the web configuration designed to improve project visibility and consistency, and to support professional practitioners and ‘accidental project managers’ alike. Wellingtone’s Accelerator+ Power App for Project for the web was selected for its combination of light touch usability and powerful Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) capabilities. But, Tim says, the impact has been about much more than simply streamlining project delivery. Project for the web already supports a central repository of meaningful data, generating valuable portfolio insights, lessons learned, and repeatable success opportunities for the business.

Accelerator+: A Project Power App with Value-Adding Capabilities

“Like many other companies, we had a history of running our projects using Excel,” Tim explains.  “We needed to bring our PPM data into one single source of truth, standardise our project approach, and build in appropriate guardrails. But the overarching aim was to create a central repository that would provide a valuable audit trail – from portfolio prioritisation through to delivery and lessons learned – to inform future decisions.”

Tim had used Project for the web extensively in a previous role – an implementation also delivered by Wellingtone. “I was very familiar with its capabilities in that environment,” he says. “But, having not been involved in the implementation within that organisation, I didn’t query what was ‘out-of-the-box’ versus what Wellingtone had specifically configured. When I joined Vistry Group, I looked at several off-the-shelf demos. It was then that I realised how much value Wellingtone’s configuration adds to the core platform. We have fantastic people at Vistry Group doing amazing work, but many are not formally trained project practitioners. Project for the web’s intuitive interface is ideal for their needs, but it also delivers the deeper dive insights and functionality that professional project practitioners want. Our decision to work with Wellingtone was based on their proven capabilities. I knew, from my previous experience of their configured product and way of working, that we could trust them to deliver what we needed.”

They are also PPM experts. They understood what we were trying to achieve. They offered healthy challenges, where appropriate, to encourage us to think strategically and operationally about our decisions.
Tim Bayes, Head of Business Change

Driving the Roadmap to Continuous Project and Portfolio Improvement

The project began in January 2023 with requirements gathering facilitated by one of Wellingtone’s senior consultants. “We wanted to take an iterative approach,” Tim recalls. “We started by ensuring that the fundamentals were in place, with guardrails and templates to guide our people through consistent project submission, governance, and delivery. Wellingtone built-in helpful automated reminders to prompt people on stage gates and critical inputs such as project initiation templates, business case approvals, actions, risks, issues, etc. It gives people a structure to work within confidently. But it has also enabled us to start building a central database of all projects. That is crucial because it generates the insight and visibility we need to improve continuously. In reality, a project lesson entered on a spreadsheet is simply a lesson logged. Project for the web has enabled us to turn lessons logged into lessons learned via the specifically configured dashboard tab. In time, the power of that data will not only drive project excellence and consistency. It will also feed into business-critical decisions – for example, considering potential risks and economies of scale across projects associated with future acquisitions.”

The ‘Lessons Learned’ tab is just one example of how Wellingtone harnessed its own project management expertise to maximise Project for the web’s benefits. Other notable functionalities included ‘Success Criteria’ and ‘Business Readiness’ to ensure that the right projects are being selected, assessed, and prioritised. “Wellingtone’s input added value from the start,” says Tim. “They are not simply software developers who write down a list of requirements and then configure them. They are also PPM experts. They understood what we were trying to achieve. They offered healthy challenges, where appropriate, to encourage us to think strategically and operationally about our decisions. Their approach was flexible, too. For example, they were happy to adopt a cascade training approach, training our core team of two so that we can train internally in the future and adapt that content to our approach, methodology and priorities. We also wanted to roll out at a manageable pace, and Wellingtone were happy to accommodate that. Initially, we have kept Project for the web to IT projects, but we are already receiving indications of interest from other departments who see the advantages of what we are doing.”

Deployment was completed in July 2023. The impact, Tim explains, is already significant. “Because we are big Microsoft Dynamics users, our people find the interface familiar, which has made adoption smoother. Power BI reporting has been a game changer. It saves significant workhours and makes our everyday work more straightforward. But it also generates data that our SteerCos can easily recognise and interrogate because the format is consistent.  Ultimately though, the biggest benefit is the central data repository. It provides the insights we need to continuously improve and generate repeatable success. Wellingtone’s guidance ensured that we were thinking about that from day one, and we have aligned everything to achieving that aim.”

I would absolutely recommend Wellingtone to anyone considering Project for the Web. They are experts in the technology’s capabilities. But, first and foremost, they are project management experts. It is that experience that has helped us integrate a first-class project management platform that provides exactly what we need.
Tim Bayes, Head of Business Change