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An ICS solution to support QI project collaboration and delivery

Develop system-wide Project Management capabilities to enable smarter management of Improvement, Change & Technology projects through training and upskilling people which will facilitate culture change and enhanced new ways of working.

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  • Proposal
  • 2022

Meet the team


  • Gero Renker, Program Framework
  • Paul Kennedy, Sadie Male, Robin Dowling, Simon Needham, SFT NHS FT
  • Jackie Lithgow, YDH NHS FT
  • QI, Benefits, Engagement, Evidence leads and others as part of multi-disciplinary team
  • Allison Nation, Somerset CCG
  • Vikki Hearn, Somerset County Council

What is the challenge your project is going to address and how does it connect to the theme?

Project management skills – whilst critical – are not routinely included in quality improvement training. Therefore, Quality improvement and change projects in the NHS often lack robust project management. Whilst most NHS trusts have a Project Management Office (PMO) there is significant variation of the processes, tools and consistency of application.

In parallel NHS organisations are becoming part of new Integrated Care Systems (ICS) which require them to collaborate and work in partnership at a system level.

It is therefore more important than ever that we underpin QI and change projects with standard project management processes, tools and skills.

Our ambition is to enable;

–   a transparent and accurate whole system view of the projects that are taking place across the ICS

–   quicker and improved decision-making (‘one version of the truth’)

–   automated reporting (reduction in duplications, unnecessary effort)

–    awareness of consistent project management practices

–    a greater likelihood that change projects are successful

What does your project aim to achieve?

We aim to build on learning from our previous merger where NHSE/I audit feedback included the observation that as a Trust we had immature or inconsistent levels of project management capabilities. This observation is further evidenced by the increasing demand for project management support for the current merger of our two trusts (100 clinical/corporate workstreams).

Our project aims to improve project management capability at Trust and System level where other external consultants have failed. We will continue to upskill anyone involved in delivering system-wide projects across the ICS.

We will increase understanding of the importance of robust, consistent project management practices to strengthen the delivery of change projects by reporting progress aligned to specific milestones, with risks / issues / benefits logs to inform strategic decision making.

We would also aspire to develop a consistent project management competency framework working with our system partners (County Council, CCG, YDH FT, Primary Care, Voluntary Sector).

How will the project be delivered?

Our Trust has been promoting QI for the last decade. The new focus is to develop an integrated approach where project management methodology is appreciated as integral to successful delivery of system level projects.

The NHS has an agreement to use Microsoft 365 digital tools to facilitate a more connected environment. We have implemented a project portfolio management platform based on Microsoft cloud technology which delivers an app-enabled enterprise-wide solution  (captures scope, strategic themes, plans, RAID logs, benefits & measures and more).

Having piloted this roll-out we are now in a position to deliver the benefits from what has been built to date. Our ambition is to continue to work with System partners to create a suite of training and resource outputs specially tailored to the Health and Social Care environment:

  • common terminology for project management
  • tried and tested tools (others won’t need to rework)
  • Training materials/resources to enable successful user adoption

How is your project going to share learning?

We will share our learning (including experiential learning and what has not worked) at Q events/webinars, the Q website, and by setting up a Q special interest group as a forum to share learning, experience and best practice.

Other team members are building a Somerset Collaboration Hub website (with partners from acute, community, primary, social care and voluntary sector) and we will incorporate the PM materials with existing QI resources sharing materials across to that platform as joint resource.

We are keen to shout out about our experiences and will explore use of social media/blogs/vlogs etc.

We will share our work on and explore interest to publish a journal article.

Another aim is that the cross-system team that work on and are involved in the project will themselves play active roles in coaching others and sharing learning on project management, and act as ambassadors for raising project management capability.

How you can contribute

  • We would welcome input and ideas from people with an interest in, or experience of project or programme management, or who are responsible for project management within their organisation.
  • We would particularly value feedback, insights and learning from Q members who have experience of harmonising ICS processes and systems.
  • We would love to hear from people who have themselves created a ‘common language’ for project management, especially at a system level as this is a recurring theme for us.
  • We will be setting up a Q Special Interest Group as part of this project and we would invite others to express an interest in joining this group, including if they would like to act as co-convenor so that it is collaboratively run and not led solely by the Somerset system.
  • Any person / group to act as a promoter to share our outputs on social media.

Plan timeline

15 Apr 2022 Q Special Interest Group formed for Project Management
14 Jun 2022 Announcement of Q Exchange Winners
21 Jun 2022 Formal Project Launch
14 Jul 2022 'Learn Before' workshop with peer organisations (Date TBD)
16 Oct 2022 Showcase learning at Fab Change Day 2022 (Date TBD)
27 Oct 2022 Share draft resources/ learning to date at QConference 2022 (DateTBD)
17 Jan 2023 Trust-wide communications and awareness campaign (Date TBD)
15 Feb 2023 'Learn During' workshop with peer organisations (Date TBD)
17 May 2023 Trust-wide campaign update (Date TBD)
3 Jul 2023 'Learn After' workshop with peer organisations (Date TBD)


  1. I've had the privilege of reviewing this idea with Kate and her team in Somerset. This is a great initiative to look at how to improve project management capability to support QI projects at a system level. The project is planning to produce materials, resources and training to improve project management capability - which will in turn increase the visibility of change projects, and give them the best possible chance of success. In my research world I read and review most QI related research, and I have to say that in my experience project management is often overlooked, so this is an important gap in how we 'do' QI. Good luck to Kate and the team!

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