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Plymouth City Council: Transparency for Capital Projects

Updated: Jul 8, 2019


At Plymouth City Council, Capital Projects cover a wide range of areas such as

Education, Transport, Housing, Economic, Care and Environmental. All areas are vying for investment, and transparency of decision making is vital. However, given that the Council did not have an enterprise application to support the governance of Capital Projects, providing visibility and transparency was extremely challenging and required significant manual overhead. The Council therefore decided to invest in a Portfolio Governance tool to

  • Align investment

  • Control funding

  • Standardise process and drive compliance

  • Increase visibility

  • Automate reporting

  • Help the council run efficiently and effectively

This was the key vision statement for this initiative:

“Deploy a set of robust tools, systems and processes that enable the impact of decisions by service heads and politicians to be demonstrated. These tools, systems and processes must provide confidence in decisions.”

Our Microsoft PPM Solution:

The Microsoft PPM solution had previously been deployed successfully for the ICT Portfolio (see case study here), and with its strategic portfolio analysis capabilities it was the obvious solution to support Capital Projects.

Project Demand

A key requirement was to support the demand process for capital projects. Program Framework developed a proposal intake configuration that captures the full content of project proposals, categorised as When / How / Where / Benefits / Strategic Impact / Funding / Engagement / Key Milestones / Risks. Within each of these categories information is being captured consistently and completely.

Multiple funding sources can be attached to each project, with budgets attached to each funding source that can be monitored across the portfolio.

Strategic Alignment and Analysis

Strategic drivers with impact statements were configured, creating the score sheet for proposals. The drivers themselves can be prioritized in different ways as the basis for portfolio evaluation.

The Portfolio Analysis function of the tool allows multiple analysis sandboxes to be created, enabling scenario planning with varying budget limits, driver prioritisations, proposals being forced in or out etc.

The investment analysis function evaluates the scenario parameters to suggest those proposals that should be signed off versus those that should be dropped. The portfolio analyst has instant visibility of Efficient Frontier, Value vs, Investment and other statistics.


A comprehensive set of reports was developed to make best use of the data captured.

These included Project Mandates, full Business Case reports, Project Progress Report (list of active capital projects with status information), Mandated Projects report.

The tool provides a host of portfolio views and data sources for ad hoc reporting.


The solution has fully delivered the original vision and the results have been transformative. It serves as the single source of truth across the Capital Programme to supply information to a wide range of stakeholders:

Benefits are manifold:

  • It has led to significant efficiency gains with the Capital Programme Delivery team.

  • Gone are the days of laborious tracking down of information, manual compiling and distributing of reports using disconnected tools.

  • Meetings such as the Programme Board meeting are more efficient as they are supported by better information.

  • Much greater clarity of the funding status across the portfolio at any given time.

  • Facilitating project audits and ensuring compliance.

  • Decision making is supported by rich, consistent data thereby fully delivering the key objective: Confidence in the council's capital project decisions and full transparency.


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