Royal Bank of Scotland: Transforming PPM with Lean-Agile Practices


On the heels of a financial industry crisis and the growing demand for digital transformation, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) realized it needed to create a greater degree of transparency and control over the way it implemented change within its strategic portfolio. Multiple methodologies and project portfolio management tools were used in various ways across the bank, making it difficult to get an accurate view of the entire portfolio, while driving up costs and slowing innovation.


RBS selected Planview Portfolios™ to enable a “transparent, controlled, and efficient program and project portfolio,” reducing its technical debt and the number of vendors it managed. The organization integrated Planview Portfolios with its financial and HR systems to create a single source of record for its project and program portfolio management and reporting. More transformative was its focus on applying Lean-Agile practices to truly shift how they managed decisions and investments across their enterprise.

“We had to move from a traditional operating model based on traditional methodologies to thinking more about incremental, iterative value delivery where we could pivot quickly to meet the changing needs of customers.”

– Stephen Marjot, head of Change Center of Excellence at RBS

About RBS

Founded in 1727, the Royal Bank of Scotland is one of the retail banking subsidiaries of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, NatWest, and Ulster Bank. Approximately 71,200 employees currently operate around 700 branches throughout Scotland, England, and Wales. The bank provides a full range of banking and insurance services to personal, business, and commercial customers.

Challenge: Responding to Change with Greater Agility

As past challenges collide with present and future demands, RBS recognized the need to transform how it approached change, innovation, and its project and program portfolio. Layers of oversight mixed with multiple tools, manual operations, and a lack of transparency stunted the bank’s ability to accelerate ideas to deliver value in order to remain competitive.

Solution: Blending Traditional PPM with Lean-Agile Practices and Principles

RBS simplified its PPM toolset by standardizing on Planview Portfolios to deliver portfolio transparency from financial approvals down to the program layer, including risks, issues, dependencies, and outcome delivery status. By configuring Planview Portfolios to support a Lean Portfolio Management (LPM) approach, RBS can now prioritize programs and define dependencies across the organization. Marjot believes real transformation is more than a tool or a methodology; it’s about having an Agile mindset and leveraging Lean-Agile practices, coupled with a platform that supports them, to change how the business thinks about planning and funding priorities.

“We live in a complex world where we have to support both traditional and Agile ways of working,” he says. “We use Planview Portfolios One to ensure the traditional ways of working and the metrics, management, control, and transparency are retained. But it wasn’t until we were able to get our leadership to shift from work-level business cases based on detailed prioritization information to domain-level (value stream) business cases, based on investment outcomes, that we made real headway.”

As RBS expands agility across the organization, it enhances its Planview enterprise portfolio management solution with LPM and Agile practices, so it can respond more rapidly to change. Executives see the status of the portfolio every morning. “It doesn’t matter what programs we are running or how many are traditional or Agile,” explains Marjot. “Leadership gets a transparent view of issues that were raised in the last 24 hours. By having that foundation, they can then determine how Agile practices can improve outcomes.”

Results: Enterprise Agility from The Inside Out

By putting an Agile lens on current processes, RBS went from 400 business cases per year to 25 business cases. The approval process for each business case was managed up front as a first step after investment planning. This removed the need for Programme business cases, simplifying funding drawdown and start-up processes from eight weeks to less than 12 days.

Here’s how:

  • RBS reviewed documentation requirements for a traditional business case and changed it from program level to portfolio level.
  • A decision to move forward with a program is determined by the business funding the program. The Agile lens allows the decision-making power to reside with the person owning the program, making them accountable for the business outcomes with the funding provided.
  • Stakeholders can consume the program, progress, and performance data via near real-time dashboards providing delivery transparency.
  • External governance forums were eliminated and active governance was implemented. Leaders participate by showing up to the PI Planning event to provide context, guidance, and funding; creating a governance forum for the commitment to the next three months of work.

Fifteen months ago, it took RBS eight months to start delivering value-driven work. Now, RBS can start creating value in less than four weeks, a five to six-month improvement in operational efficiency (time and money).

What’s Next: Integration and Continual Improvement

For Marjot, there is no end to the journey to enterprise agility. “The move to Agile is a change inside yourself,” he says. “It’s not just a structure, a process or a method, but a behavior. We can always improve, simplify, and do better for the customer.” Marjot and his team plan to continue expanding the Lean-Agile principles and practices to current processes to slowly shift how the organization runs.

They have plans to integrate the traditional enterprise planning and portfolio management capabilities of Planview Portfolios with Planview LeanKit™ and other Agile tools for the management of teamwork, allowing for full visibility and connection throughout the organization. The integrated architecture will give the company a greater degree of comfort and control around its Agile delivery, as it continues to deliver at a faster pace.

Watch Steve Marjot deliver more detail on RBS’s transformation journey here.

To learn more about what Planview® solutions can do for your organization, visit

“The move to Agile is a change inside yourself. It’s not just a structure, a process or a method, but a behavior. We can always improve, simplify, and do better for a customer”
– Stephen Marjot, head of Change Center of Excellence at RBS