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Is North Lincolnshire and Gould NHS FT's business intelligence fit for purpose?

To overcome a lack of information on Business Intelligence (BI), we looked at an organisation-wide strategy for North Lincolnshire and Gould NHS FT. They needed to ensure that their BI was aligned to the business and meeting the strategic goals for the hospital both for today and for tomorrow.


Finding a lack of information on the Business Intelligence function in her handover notes raised a red flag for the new CIO of North Lincolnshire and Gould NHS FT. Anecdotal evidence confirmed that the service was struggling.

Knowing who might be able to help her to understand the challenges, she approached SCW. A thorough investigation was needed into her new hospital’s approach to BI, and whether it was fit for purpose.

Our approach

To explore the problems fully, the SCW team took a wide approach digging into the areas that were impacting BI, its infrastructure, technology, data warehouse, and staffing structure. This expanded to people, processes, structure, and culture. It culminated with a look at organisation-wide strategy and whether BI was aligned to the business and meeting the strategic goals for the hospital both for today and for tomorrow.

Our delivery approach combined consultancy, considering people, strategy and structures, and the technology requirement, looking at both elements.

The project involved:

  • scoping and setting expectations
  • conducting an industry best practice review
  • internal evidence review -  for this full BI review this included strategy, objectives, design documents, staffing reports, compliance documents, and work take on process review
  • stakeholder engagement – 2 models
    • A bottom-up approach to track how the analytics and BI program serves its users-  ranked against Timeliness, Relevance, Accuracy, Consistency, Completeness, Knowledge at an operational level
    • A strategic top-down IT score for data analytics – providing a pack of evidence measures and advice on how to improve
  • review and analysis 
  • consolidated final report

We consulted a wide range of stakeholders. This was important to see how the reports were landing with their intended customers. This avoided a ‘marking their own homework’ scenario.


We found that the information team was well regarded, but the service was unable to meet the users’ needs. And where they were meeting requirements this was at a great cost in terms of staff effort. 

Even so, they were only producing basic descriptive reports. Inefficient processes and systems reduced the capacity for the team to contribute to more strategic planning and predictions that could make a difference. They were treading water, meeting the day-to-day aims but the water was getting deeper and they were drifting further out to sea.

They were so focused on keeping their head above water in delivering BAU services during the pandemic that they hadn’t realised that there were wider problems than just BI and that they were all connected.

We worked with NLaG from August – December 2020 to deliver an honest but quite critical report. Holding a mirror to their problems supported their need for more funding for their departments.

We found an inherent problem with engagement where people expressed problems with the information received but didn’t engage as to how to make it better.

Everybody in the hospital knew how under pressure the information team was and nobody wanted to rock the boat. Excuses were made but we felt, from our review, it wouldn’t have made a difference.


NLaG saw this as an innovative approach. Looking across the organisation rather than just at the BI department we could show how the information was landing with the customers they served.

Linking the report to the organisational strategy and the Board’s eight priorities was unique. It also served to highlight that the strategy had not really been cascaded down through the organisation.

Data showed that people still thought operationally and not about the part they played in achieving the organisational strategy. The result was that the consumers of data didn’t have the right information to respond to the strategy and this was a weakness.

We highlighted problematic areas and provided evidence for them to evaluate them themselves. Our open and honest dialogue on the feedback enabled them to see the cause and effect. And we provided evidence to support all our conclusions including comprehensive feedback from staff at all levels.

We emphasised a common thread to enable them to see they needed a system approach rather than trying to solve individual problems

We produced short, medium, and long term-plans with estimated costs which gave a roadmap out of the current position they were in. We also provided stretch goals to strive for if they successfully achieved the initial building blocks.

NLaG was able to use our report for their data warehouse planning and modernisation. And have taken almost every recommendation including our financial proposal.

We’ve given them a path out of the current problem that doesn’t disrupt BAU or massively stress staff already close to breaking point. They will finally be able to stop treading water.

Following the completion of this project, NLaG is keen to work with SCW again and we have been asked to bid for further work.

To find out more, contact Tom Counsell, Associate Director of Consultancy, Analytics Strategy and Transformation - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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