A day in the life - Steve Sprange, project management officer

Article posted on 27th November 2017

Health and social care Corporate services

Five CCGs with up to 80 practices each, all needing Wi-Fi installed at once. For most people that’s a pretty daunting task. But when you’re our project management officer, Steve Sprange, it’s something to get excited about.

A bit of a self-confessed geek, this excitement comes when Steve can get stuck in to something he enjoys. Whether he’s attending conventions that feature his favourite films (he’s a big movie buff) or emailing practices with answers to their queries, if he’s passionate about it, he goes all out.

It’s a pretty handy attitude to have when your role involves working with such large numbers of organisations, each with their own individual requirements. Helping to “get what the project managers need done, done,” Steve’s part of a team that fully manages the entire rollout and organisation of Wi-Fi installations. Essentially there to help take the stress of handling a project away from CCGs and their practices, it means that Steve’s “constantly working and constantly busy.” But luckily enough it’s, as he puts it, “one of the things that I really, really love about this job.”

Kicking off the day with a kick-off meeting

Just how large each project can be is seen in Steve’s first task for the day: leading a kick-off meeting. Arranged after a project manager has already spoken with the CCG to “get an idea of what their requirements are,” these meetings pull everyone together so that timelines, deadlines and next steps can be fully scoped out.

“Steve is a very approachable contact and well organised with regards to the project work that he is doing with ourselves. I would be happy to work with Steve on future projects for Egton.”

Mike Byron, primary care GP IT manager, NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Groups Partnership

First on the agenda is to “see what engineers are available for what areas.” Needed for “carrying out surveys and installs,” Steve and the engineering resource team are finding it tricky to get dates sorted for everything. That’s because some of the practices require a passive survey, since they don’t have readily available floor plans. With the Wi-Fi rollout needed by a certain date, the team decide that they’ll contact some of the external agencies they work with so that the project can meet its deadline.

Next up is checking on when public telephone switched network (PTSN) lines may be able to be set up. Installed by BT, the team will have to keep constant tabs on when this can be completed as the final Wi-Fi installation can’t happen without a line in. With no potential roadblocks or conflicts noted, the meeting’s over and Steve heads off to contact the practices involved.

Setting up support

“It’s a bit of a well-known saying but it’s a true one: communication is key,” notes Steve. “As long as you communicate with everyone, you can overcome problems.”

Armed with the practices’ details, the first contact Steve sits down to make this morning is important. Allowing him to introduce himself to those he’ll be working with, it means he can not only outline what the project will involve, but can also establish himself as a line of support throughout the coming weeks.

The priority Steve places on communication is something that Tara Moylan, head of projects at South Cheshire and Vale Royal GP Alliance, has seen in action. Working with Steve recently on the Alliance’s patient call and digital signage rollout – Steve occasionally works on non-Wi-Fi installations too – Tara explains how “Steve brought a fresh pair of eyes to the project”:

“Steve provided weekly progress reports and if there were any issues, he contacted the alliance to seek guidance and resolution.”

Tara Moylan, head of projects, South Cheshire and Vale Royal GP Alliance

It’s a concern that Steve has for all of those he works with. As he explains, “Everyone is just as important, whether they’re a practice manager or someone high up within a health trust.”

Tackling tasks as a team

It’s just after one and Steve’s finished both his introductions and his lunch. Happily full from a fairly healthy serving of noodles – it’s two for one at the local takeout, an offer the whole team has taken full advantage of – Steve scrolls through the “daily tasks centralised in Seneca that everyone works from” and spots something a colleague could use a hand with.

Involving confirming that practices have received the equipment that’s needed for their final install, it’s a task that’s evolved during Steve’s time in the role. Initially requiring practices to “check through multiple boxes for every individual item,” now everything is stored on our site before being delivered in one package. It’s developments like these that “make life easier for practices and us,” notes Steve. “There are a lot of time savings.”

“Everyone in our team has a passion for what they do and it shows.”

Steve Sprange

Newly created at the beginning of 2017, the Wi-Fi projects team have always understood the importance of working collaboratively and adaptively. Formed after the demand and scale of installations grew, everyone continues to pull together to “help alleviate each other’s workload.” It’s also meant that together they’ve “created new systems and have formed new processes – which is fantastic.”

The right role for the right person

While this way of working helped Steve when he first started the role, it doesn’t mean that he wasn’t presented with a “huge learning curve.” Starting out in our sales department, he got involved with projects after helping to acquire floorplans. However, the challenge was something that suited him well. As Steve notes, “I love jumping in at the deep end. Once I’m shown something, I get it. If I didn’t do projects, I’d love to train people.”

That doesn’t mean he’s ready to move though. Aspiring to do his PRINCE 2 qualification and become a project manager, Steve looks forward to being able to “add more strings to my bow and to learn about other products.” As he explains, “Career-wise, everything fell into place for me. I’ve never looked back.”

Tailoring projects around practices’ needs

It’s mid-afternoon and Steve’s got round to reviewing the surveys that took place yesterday, his final task for the day. Completed once floorplans have been confirmed, our engineers carry these out to pick out what equipment is needed and where it should go.

Tailored around the individual needs of each practice, one of the surveys has highlighted the requirement for additional access points, as well as different coloured cables so that the practice can “distinguish what cables are for which services.” With this information to hand, Steve gets in touch with the CCG “to revise the quote for them and let them know what updates there are.” He also adds the details to Intradoc247 so both the CCG and our team can easily see what’s been requested.

Providing a tailored service is something that Steve likes about his role, particularly since he “enjoys problem solving”. Whether he’s creating “mock ups” of how a bespoke quote might work so that a practice manager can “visualise the set up” or is working to ensure that the equipment for the final install is at a practice’s site for the next working day, he likes to be able to provide practices with what they need.

A bit of time to unwind

With the day finally done and the tailored requests sent off, Steve heads off home. Sitting down to relax, he watches a movie with his wife (she’s admittedly not as much of a film fan as him) and reads a good book. It’s how he gets “a bit of downtime that takes you away from everything,” he notes.


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