Agenda item

Corporate Projects Service (Agenda item 9)

Report of Councillor Paul Hewett, Executive Member for Property, Projects & Procurement.


Councillor Paul Hewett, the Executive Member for Property, Projects & Procurement presented the report.


The report before Members proposed a new function for the Council - to approve the creation of a separate corporate project service.


This Council had fundamentally changed in how it delivered services, how it ran and how it operated. Some of these changes had led to very quick wins and others had longer term aspirations moving forward.  All of these changes reflected a shift in mindset, in terms of running the Council and changing the Council. This mindset required strong project management discipline, a clear understanding of time, resource and budget to continue to deliver services to residents. WorkSmart was a major element of these changes focusing on this Council to be fit for the future. Since, WorkSmart, Members, staff and Teams had got better at thinking projects through, employing project management principles and concepts.  In part, this had been due to the Council employing specialist project management experts.    Ellenor Fenn, Elm Road, Queen Mother’s Garden, temporary accommodation projects, all of these projects had been delivered on time and in full were a testament to the application of project management skills and a stronger project management mindset.


This new corporate project service, would seek to manage, monitor and record the delivery of a number of projects that had been deemed as the most important to the Council where management and resource capacity were required to ensure that these projects were delivered as planned.  By having some of the corporate projects centralised would allow senior management and the Cabinet Members to ensure delivery which in turn would ensure the Council met its Corporate Plan.  


If approved, it would build on project management skills and would move the Council to the next stage to look at the most critical future projects, such as the ambitious 2035 targets, new housing initiatives, and the Serco contract etc.


This new service would also seek to standardise project management within the Council using a system that would be easily adopted and easily applied by everyone.  It would also support other Teams to deliver skills and knowledge of good project management. The necessary budgets had been outlined in the Proforma B attached to the report on page 21 of the agenda pack.


Councillor Duigan seconded the proposal.


Councillor Ashby asked a question in regard to the 60% self-financing (see section 5.5.1 of the report).


Ralph Burton, the Assistant Director Property & Infrastructure explained that as could be seen from the report 40% of the funding was already in the existing budget, the 60% for the first 2 years would be funded initially from Reserves.    However, from day one, what was being established as a principle for the service was that the projects that were commissioned to the service would be requested to provide funding for project management resources.  The reason why this budget had been spread over two years was explained.


As a follow up to the above response, the Executive Member for Property, Projects & Procurement explained that not all projects would have financial outcomes but where there was, he believed that as part of the project management discipline, the project should be able to provide some financial input to the delivery of the benefits as a result.


Councillor Duigan welcomed this development as he felt that a more permanent staff structure in terms of long-term management was needed.


Councillor Ashby asked for the reasons behind the jump in costs from year two to three and three to four .


The Assistant Director Property & Infrastructure explained that there were two years spread across three financial periods.


Referring to page 20 of the agenda pack, Councillor Birt had noticed that there were six managers in this proposed structure and asked what they would all be doing and what qualifications they would have. He felt that it would be better to build a team specific to a project and considering the examples that had been given earlier he believed that a valuable asset in the team would be a qualified quantity surveyor and similarly architectural support. He also felt that the report had lots of words but lacked material detail.


Members were informed that project management was a discipline in its own right, similar to that of a quantity surveyor for example. The Council was looking to establish a set of generic project managers who could carry out a wide majority of projects, examples were provided and the process and approach was explained. Specialist resources would need to be procured depending on the project itself. In terms of what the team would be working on, this would vary as they would be picking up on various activities such as projects from the Council’s Evolve Programme, or Leisure projects as an example.  Project activity would be prioritised accordingly.


Councillor Morton asked who would be deciding on the choice of projects and the decision making involved with that.


Members were informed that the Programme Board, which was part of the internal governance structure would be looking at the total programme of work and prioritising resources according to what was most critical to be delivered.   There would also be some performance indicators from the service that Members would be able to consider at various meetings of the Council. 


The recommendation was proposed and seconded, and following a unanimous vote, it was:


RESOLVED that the establishment of the Corporate Projects Service along with the necessary budgets and staffing as required be approved; and delegated authority be given to the Assistant Director to implement as required.

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