Maverick TV / NHS Local – Lean PMO Service


  • Assignment: Programme Management / Agile PMO
  • Date(s): February 2010 – December 2012

Following a successful bid to deliver a digital healthcare service for the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority (WMSHA), Maverick Television commenced a 5 year programme in 2010 called NHS local. Its initial aim was to be an interactive information service, but following an independent review in summer 2011, the strategy quickly shifted to the delivery of digital products and services to transform the way in which patients and staff use and manage healthcare services and to drive better, more efficient healthcare on behalf of the NHS. Magic Milestones were drafted in at this point.

The main NHS local team was a consortium of partners from Maverick Television and Clever Together in Birmingham, and Illumina Digital in London which later merged to create Digital Life Sciences.

The challenge

Following the strategic service review in summer 2011, a more comprehensive governance and communications structure was mandated. Taking effect in late Q1 2012, the new top-level board was keen to make its mark on the service; decisions were taken and priorities set that made certain aspects of the programme planning exercise from earlier that year redundant.

The consortium nature of the service also meant that suppliers were keen to be seen as partners, but they often had conflicting commercial obligations which resulted in a disjoint in overall priorities and direction.

Combined with the changing face of the NHS local service and the requirement to balance the desire for agile delivery with the governance requirements of a national public sector institution, these resulted in the need to evolve the role and function of the agile programme management office to ensure the continued delivery of quality digital products against the backdrop of an ever-changing strategic landscape.

The solution

While there was, and remained, a need for the programme function to provide strategic direction and governance to the projects and products within the NHS local portfolio, the Magic Milestones consultants took an active decision to be more hands on across the programme, instigating, amongst other things, the following to keep the programme moving and achieving the right results:

  • Quarterly and monthly planning of change management activity – without a clear owner this area was disjointed and had been making erratic progress;
  • Virtual and physical kanban boards to manage and provide visibility of the change management tasks, reduce resource bottlenecks and empower team to self-manage delivery against monthly goals;
  • Daily virtual stand-up (using Skype) to update and align focus for staff across disparate locations;
  • Bridging the perceived “us and them” gap through regular, effective communication, mentoring and co-location wherever possible;
  • Task swarming for research, testing and similar work to ensure tight delivery timescales could still be met;
  • General resourcing where required resource was either unavailable or prioritised to other work.

The benefits

The key benefit resulting from this engagement was the continued focus on, and delivery of, quality digital projects and services during a period of reasonable upheaval (often-changing priorities, WMSHA dissolution). This provided a solid basis for, and greatly facilitated, the discussion around contract novation towards the end of 2012.

The following secondary benefits were also driven out from the above action points:

  • Contractual obligations to the client continued to be met, thus providing assurance to Maverick Television as the main service supplier;
  • Process adherence and improvement continued throughout;
  • Prominence and effectiveness of deployment planning and delivery were raised;
  • Programme remained on budget;
  • Intra-consortium relationships and daily working practices were bridged and improved;
  • Excellent client relationships were maintained across the various governing WMSHA groups.

What the NHS local team said…

“… a very methodical and analytical approach to programme management …”
“… challenging when required to be so but maintains a focus on goals rather than problems …”

“In a programme with so many stakeholders and so many conflicting priorities, … a knack of being able to get past through the noise, articulate requirements and tasks, prioritise them and find the right people to complete them”

“… also contributed a lot of good ideas and value to the programme”

Damien Hampton, Head of Technology

 “Very good at keeping people to task …”

“…diplomatic in approach and good client management skills.”

“…very good with clients especially where there is a need to explain thoughts and concepts articulately and simply, and generally put people at ease.”

Dharmesh Patel, Change Manager

“… brought in a lot of positive changes across the programme, ensuring that the whole team are on track delivering quality products”

“… helped to ensure that the whole team are well integrated …”

“…aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and muck in…”