Activity Based Reporting

for project accounting and asset creation  

NHS Digital, North East and Yorkshire, Delivery provider



The problem

NHS Digital needed to be able to capture the full cost of delivering each one of our products and services because otherwise we cannot:

  1. accurately assess value for money of our investments and compare the cost of alternatives
  2. accurately assess the costs incurred in building /improving our digital assets that need to be capitalised on our balance sheet
  3. assess cost trajectories over time to monitor for efficiency
  4. demonstrate transparency to our commissioners and stakeholders. Predecessor organisations had concerns raised from Public Accounts Committee hearings and National Audit Office audits regarding poor financial management of the national technology programmes in the NHS.

The challenge

  • How might we develop a charging model so that we can capture an accurate full cost of our products and services and compare them with the cost of alternatives?
  • How might we reconfigure our financial and corporate systems so that they can enable full cost capture and reporting in an organisation of agile, multi-disciplinary teams working in a matrix environment?
  • How might we develop a resource model so that we can analyse and understand how are resources are deployed across the organisation, helping us to answer questions like: How does actual resource usage compare with our plans/ forecasts? And what resources are particularly stretched, or underutilised?

The outputs

  • A central repository for recording and displaying all the projects, programmes, services, and corporate functions (and associated details including cost centre) of our organisational portfolio of delivery.
  • A tool where all resources in the organisation (permanent and temporary) were planned against delivery activities and data on how our resources have been utilised to understand what resources are particularly stretched or under utilised.
  • A standard rate card utilised across the organisation for costing delivery activity.
  • Reporting of actual costs on a full cost basis for each of our delivery activities.
  • Reporting of forecasts and budgets on a full cost basis for each of our delivery activities.
  • Supporting evidence for capitalisation of all our intangible assets.

The outcomes

Activity based reporting continues to be a valuable tool across NHS Digital. Benefits arising from the development are:

  • improved cost segmentation – additional transparency on what we spend our funding on
  • assets being captured on the balance sheet at their true cost
  • billing to commissioners (DHSC, NHSE, UKHSA etc) according to the real time needed for project and service delivery
  • learning from the past. After completing a project, we can see how much time we spent on its execution and utilise this in future investment decisions.

The Innovation

Read the full innovation on activity based reporting for project accounting and asset creation

All the documents and resources relating to this innovation can be found in the downloads section at the bottom of the page.

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Innovation Showcase

Innovation Showcase, 8th July 2022

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What the peer-reviewers said

“This is a significant innovation to resolve a complex challenge and clearly addresses the problem statement. Is fully embedded and has been subject to incremental improvements so is well-proven.”

“The project has ultimately achieved what it set out to do – capture of project related costs – using the existing IT systems in place at the organisation. This information was then used for more accurate accounting records, greater levels of transparency, enhanced invoicing for products/ services and for learning from past projects as an indicator for future project.”

“This is a positive innovation, and one that could be a huge benefit to the rest of the NHS.”

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Innovation L2

Activity Based Reporting for project accounting and asset creation