British Heart Foundation - Corporate Project Solutions

British Heart Foundation

England, United Kingdom
Products & Services
Microsoft Project Online, PS+ (Project Server) & Enterprise Portfolio Hub
The challenge
With a complex infrastructure and an ambitious strategy, quality project management information was crucial for the British Heart Foundation (BHF). Gathering the information was a very manual process with little consistent use of project plans. There were three key issues to solve: project management, reporting and standardisation.
This solution will enable us to better plan our road map for the future – and deliver on it.
Suky Sehmbi
Project Manager

About British Heart Foundation

Each day, around 440 people in the UK lose their lives to cardiovascular disease (CVD). More than 100 of them will be under 75, while 7 million people across the nation are living with the effects of the disease. It’s because of these shocking statistics that the British Heart Foundation exists.

As the nation’s leading independent funder of CVD research, the BHF has been leading the fight against heart disease since 1961. The BHF is aiming to invest £100m in new research each year. Through funding pioneering research, the BHF is helping to transform the lives of people living with CVD.


In addition to the usual fundraising and back-office operations, the BHF has an extensive retail environment with more than 730 stores. This creates a significant requirement for technology projects within the charity, covering retail systems, CRM, websites, digital communications, social media, sophisticated grant management systems and HR and Finance systems.

In 2014 the BHF published an ambitious Strategy to 2020 to fight for every heartbeat. Suky who leads the charity’s Enterprise Portfolio Hub project explains:

We are a research-based charity, and most of our funds go towards helping provide grants for research into CVD and how to prevent it. In terms of retail, we are definitely Europe’s biggest charity retailer, probably the biggest in the world. We also have an eBay presence. Most of the products that we sell are donated to us, but we do have new products that we sell like cycling shirts or products from our events as well as Christmas cards.

BHF’s IT department currently numbers around 50 staff, a figure that’s growing to meet the charity’s ambition to beat heart disease. The IT function is split between London and their retail offices in Claygate.

Suky explains;

It’s a very competitive and challenging time for the sector, so you have to stand out. We have to make sure our systems are well-maintained and look after the security aspect of things and make sure our systems are as efficient as possible. We had many manual processes and were running a large number of projects with minimal standard processes across them. Much of the reporting was manual, with the documentation in different places. It was hard to know exactly where you were across the portfolio.

The Solution

Initially, the BHF looked at what processes and governance was needed to put in place. With that resolved, the charity looked at what tools it needed to support the processes. Being a Microsoft house, the best solution was Project Online. Suky explains;

We chose Online rather than OnPremise because it’s a much lighter tool that required less work to implement. We then looked at suppliers who could help us. We started with four, narrowed it down to two and finally chose CPS based on its ability to provide the right solution at the right price. It felt more like CPS were giving us a product whereas most of the other suppliers were giving us the services to implement a product.

Suky was convinced that CPS’s PS+ solution, coupled with Project Online, had the suitable suite of tools and the speed of implementation to help the BHF achieve its goals. As a result, the Enterprise Portfolio Hub project was started. The BHF decided to launch a pilot within the IT department.

IT has now adopted the solution, but, as Suky explains, there’s still a long way to go. Suky says;

We’ve got to the end of a six-month trial period and are now looking at ways in which we can take this solution forward. There’s more work to do in terms of resourcing, but the goal is to roll out some of the functionality to a wider audience within BHF and then followed by the whole system.


Implementation of the new solution took just a few months, from finalising the contract to going live. Suky says the pilot has been a success, and the charity now has much better visibility of its portfolio.

We have a single place to go to see information about our projects; everyone can see it with no manual collection required. CPS has been very responsive in making some changes to the PS+ application. It’s been really good to see some of our enhancement requests implemented in the base PS+ product. What we’ve found harder than we thought has been getting everyone to buy into the governance and processes we wanted. That internal change is always harder than expected. However, the tool is giving us visibility of where we need to improve.

Next Steps

BHF plans to roll out the PS+ solution across its entire estate, although that’s still some way off. Suky explains;

We probably need to spend more time using it within IT, focusing on resourcing and the roadmap. The most significant benefit has been the visibility of our data, and we can use that to drive good governance and delivery of our projects.

Andy Fenton, CIO at the BHF, says

We recognised the need to gain greater control over the large number and wide variety of projects and programmes the BHF is undertaking to fight heart disease. PS+ was fast to implement and provided the functionality to move from just project management to IT portfolio management. It will help the BHF make better decisions in our fight for every heartbeat.

The Results

CPS’s solution has given BHF quantifiable goals in key areas such as project management, reporting, standardisation, quality of delivery and budget and time management. And the charity is now significantly better placed to deliver its plans for the next three to five years.

A word from the team...

Before engaging CPS, we knew the key deliverables we wanted to be implemented, particularly in terms of stage gates and the approval processes. CPS was able to implement these and provide support whenever it was needed. Our next steps are to engage with CPS further in order to drive the solution further.

Suky Sehmbi, Project Manager at British Heart Foundation

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