In 2011, Iconic’s Director of Project Management, Darren Hewitt, was working as Construction Manager for Barclays Bank Plc, leading the delivery team. At the time, the Bank was undergoing a 7 year Branch Network Development programme to increase individual branch productivity, introduce IT to enhance customer service and ultimately increase each branch’s market share. The contract was worth £600m over the course of the programme with a total of 258 branches being remodelled and 1230 being refreshed.
In 2011, the team successfully managed to deliver a truly staggering 350 branch improvements, which also delivered a measurable commercial impact.
The bank’s pre-existing ‘scattergun’ approach of improving the branch network – improving branches in isolation, when needs arose - had not resulted in any significant peak of extra sales. So, Barclays decided on a new strategy, one of breaking the whole network of 4000 retail branches into chunks or micro-markets.
This meant that investment could be targeted to have a demonstrable commercial impact on a local area. Each micro-market had one branch that was designated as ‘flagship’ with one other large branch supporting it and both of these branches were given a full remodel. All other branches in the micro-market were given a refresh. For example, in the Reading micro-market, Reading Broad Street was the flagship, Henley was the supporting branch and both were given a full remodel. All other branches in the area around Reading and Wokingham were refreshed.
With this strategy in place, the Branch Network Development programme suddenly seemed much more manageable. It was still a large a complex plan though and needed a clear process to ensure efficient project delivery. Darren was part of a small team who wrote a new process to manage the delivery of the programme based, first and foremost, on engaging all the stakeholders. He recognised that having the stakeholders on board with the process would make it run as smoothly and efficiently as possible, with minimal disruption to the customer. He also recognised that every great plan needs clear stages with each party involved understanding which stages they were responsible for and at what point they should hand over to the next party.
The process needed to be able to react to and implement the demands of the business. Barclays’s branch portfolio consisted of many kinds of buildings, from the historic building at North Street, Brighton to the more recent constructions in modern shopping centres, each of which needed an individual approach so there needed to be room within the process to incorporate this. Likewise, the different circumstances of each micro-market had to be considered. In order to achieve this, the process had to allow for evolution of the design, value engineering of all components, and the delivery timeline.
As you can imagine, such a large programme can have a great many people involved in it and this was no exception. This can be an advantage as all the different people bring their own ideas and perspectives. However, it is essential that all these individuals are pulling in the same direction. Darren was lucky enough to have a hugely talented and experienced team. It was his job to effectively communicate the process to them to ensure that everyone was committed to following it. It was also his job to ensure that all the right people were involved which led to him removing two under-performing contractors and introducing four new ones. In all, the team were responsible for enabling 14 different supplier partners to achieve the programme’s aims whilst adhering to programme budgets and timelines.
With a clear process and the right people in place, the bank’s ambitious Branch Network Development programme was successfully delivered within the agreed budgets and timescales. Like any large and daunting task, the improvement of 350 retail branches in just one year was made much more feasible by breaking it down, first into manageable geographical chunks and then into clear steps with each step being owned by the right person. Targets for increasing market share in local areas were met, demonstrating that this process had much more commercial impact than the previous scattergun approach.
Director of Marketing at Iconic Project Management Limited. We specialise in retail, leisure and commercial construction.