Transport for Greater Manchester – Establishing the Portfolio Office2019-03-11T14:38:14+00:00

Project Description

Transport for
Greater Manchester – Establishing the Portfolio Office

Setting up a new structure as part of an internal transformation programme


leadership icon



Transport for Greater Manchester


Nov 14 – Nov 17

The challenge

The introduction of new local powers to Greater Manchester in the latter part of 2014 through the Devolution Deal meant that Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) needed to look at how it operates and delivers services, and how to prepare itself for the future to ensure it remained fit for purpose. This changing landscape resulted in the establishment of two key internal programmes:

  • Devolution Programme – a new set of activities linked to greater control of the Road, Rail and Bus networks
  • Transformation Programme – an internal review looking at how TfGM conducted its business and what its operating model needed to be as a result of the Devolution Programme

Initially blacc, as programme manager, was asked to lead the mobilisation of the TfGM team to deliver the Devolution Programme. This involved identifying the work plans, the deliverables and the required outcomes for this particular programme of work. Following the successful establishment of the Devolution Programme, blacc were asked by the CEO to lead a significant piece of the Transformation Programme – the establishment of an organisation wide Portfolio Office, such that TfGM could understand better all of its projects and programmes and ensure the benefits of those programmes were fully realised.

Manchester traffic photograph

The solution

Through a rigorous process of consultation, in-depth interviews and reference to best practice in other industries (banking; health care;
government; and nuclear) a number of key organisational principles were identified with the senior management team and then established throughout the business:

  • Define the benefits before you buy
  • Start with a proper business case
  • Stop the projects going red
  • The right governance in place resolves the big issues
  • Question why you did it that way and learn from it
  • Make sure the Portfolio Office is visible and supportive – not the Project police
  • Approach all your projects in the same way
  • Put the right people (not just the available ones) in the right role
  • Use your resources wisely and be sophisticated about your project prioritisation

The result

We established a portfolio management office within this agreed framework, built a new team that now allows TfGM to ensure it gets what its paid for in terms of its projects and the outcomes they deliver.

Things we did included

  • Reorganising the leadership team to make the Senior Managers (not just the Executive team) more accountable
  • Rebuilt how TfGM commissions its projects and approves them
  • Created a greater level of internal assurance on all the projects
  • Getting the Operational people to determine the projects they required to make their business perform better – proper Project Sponsorship
  • Writing and publishing, on time for the first time ever, a comprehensive external facing Business Plan
  • Turn the Project Management department into a proper service provider, to service the Operational Clients
  • Creating a better understanding of where TfGM was up to on its “organisational journey” – the big road map

“Martin from blacc has set up the function well, staffed it with the
right people, got them doing the right activities and has made real
inroads into how the organisation think and acts.”
Dr Jon Lamonte, CEO TfGM

“Having seen what you have done and if we had our time again, we would have built our Portfolio Office in the same way you have.”
Tanya Durlen, Head of Portfolio Office, Transport for London