With investment in frontline patient care as the primary objective for NHS Property Services, a change in mind-set was necessary, and executing a robust digital transformation strategy was vital to improve services and accelerate business growth.
The initial challenge was to implement new business initiatives without increasing employee headcount and operational costs.
To execute at pace and ensure solutions were designed to be future-proof, NHS Property Services adopted a cloud approach using the Microsoft Azure platform, using the QuickConnect Integration-Platform-As-A-Service (iPaaS) accelerator to design, develop, implement and manage the solution.
The QuickConnect iPaaS, comprised of: Azure Service Bus, API Management, Azure Functions, Azure Logic Apps, Azure Storage, Azure Redis Cache, Azure Event Hubs, Azure App Service.
NHS Property Services was formed in 2013 following the merger of property services departments from 161 NHS Primary Care Trusts across England. Today, the NHS Property Services portfolio consists of 3,500 buildings worth over £3 billion. The primary objective is to reduce cost, create a fit for purpose property estate and generate vital revenue for reinvestment in frontline patient care.
Like any complex business merger, progress hadn’t always been easy. In particular, NHS Property Services had to face the considerable challenge of managing and integrating technology systems from hundreds of different organisations.
‘We had a large number of disparate, unconnected applications and no ‘master’ of data for areas like finance, e-billing, capital works, facilities management or credit control,’ says Kevin Canning, Solutions Architect for Technical Services in NHS Property Services. ‘It was difficult to perform even basic functions. For example, we couldn’t invoice for rented properties consistently, and we couldn’t take on more properties into our portfolio. We were losing revenue as a result.’
Many of the systems were provided by Commissioning Support Units within different areas across the NHS estate, which meant that NHS Property Services had no control over how systems were managed or interfaced with each other. NHS Property Services decided to change strategic direction. Break away from legacy vendor relationships and run independently from all NHS systems.
NHS property Services decided to solve its technology and business challenges through executing a digital transformation strategy using Microsoft Azure
Cluster Reply enabled NHS Property Services to realise the vision through the implementation of an iPaaS built on Microsoft Azure
The key to success has been the partnership between NHS Property Services and Cluster Reply
Cluster Reply continue to provide a 24 X 7 Managed Service and manage all major incidents on behalf of NHS Property services and suppliers of the service
NHS property Services decided to solve its technology and business challenges through executing a digital transformation strategy using Microsoft Azure.
‘Our vision was to replace legacy systems with best of breed SaaS based applications,’ says Kevin. ‘We knew this would be the best way to unify the technology we use across all our sites, offices and services. We also wanted cloud apps to help us replace manual processes and achieve consistency and efficiency in the way we operate.’
However, Kevin and his team knew that it wasn’t going to be enough to simply roll out a new set of line of business applications. They needed to ensure that the applications could work seamlessly together.
‘We wanted to create central control and put an end to the messy, point to point integration we had in the past. We wanted to understand where our data was coming from at all times and use it to operate more efficiently and profitably,’ says Kevin.
Cluster Reply enabled NHS Property Services to realise the vision through the implementation of an iPaaS built on Microsoft Azure.
Cluster Reply, in partnership with NHS Property Services delivered a flexible, high-performance architecture allowing the new SaaS applications to share data freely and seamlessly via one centralised master data source.
As a result, applications such as e-billing, credit control, purchasing and facilities management can all work together seamlessly. In just 4 weeks the integration 103,370 data transactions between these systems via 17 distinct data exchanges not ever deemed possible. Ultimately, enabling NHS Property Services to generate increased revenue to be reinvested to support services to enhance patient care.
‘The beauty of what we have achieved with Cluster Reply is that we can decouple and recouple applications as we choose,’ says Kevin. ‘That’s going to be very beneficial as we move forward. We can now add and remove applications without serious knock on effects and keep innovating with freedom.’
According to Kevin, the key to success has been the partnership between NHS Property Services and Cluster Reply.
‘We were making a transformational shift, so our choice had to be right,’ he says. ‘We needed a partner, not just a solution provider, and that’s exactly what Cluster Reply has proven to be.’
‘Cluster Reply explained to us how the journey would map out, and, along the way, have never been content to simply do what we have asked them to. They have thought deeply about what we are trying to achieve both now and in the long term and have suggested where we can improve our thinking wherever appropriate. That’s what being in a true partnership is about.’
Ongoing customer satisfaction is imperative for a partnership to thrive and it was key to ensure that NHS Property Services had the appropriate level of support for current and future services. Cluster Reply continue to provide a 24 X 7 Managed Service and manage all major incidents on behalf of NHS Property services and suppliers of the service.
‘My advice to any organisation in a similar situation to ours is that you can’t assume integration is something you can complete and put to one side. You need to keep refining and continually improving. Working with Cluster Reply and the ongoing service and advice they provide gives us complete confidence we can do that.’
NHS Property Services is a private company that provides property and facilities management services to 10% of the NHS estate. Formed in 2013, NHS Property Services is tasked with both modernising and generating income from NHS property to improve frontline patient care.