Database Design

Custom-built database helps Whitbread transform budget approvals process


Project: change++ built a new budget approvals database to help Whitbread avoid the difficulties that can jeopardise complex projects.


Services: Database Design.


Results: All new projects are now fully documented and stored in one centralised location prior to budget approval and can be securely viewed by all parties working on them.




The client

Established in 1742, Whitbread is one of the UK's oldest companies. Today it has over 35,000 employees and is the UK’s largest operator of hotels and restaurants.  It owns some of the country’s most successful hospitality brands, including Premier Inn and Beefeater.


Their needs

Whitbread often has over 400 projects waiting for budget approval, each involving many parties and requiring a large amount of documentation. Without rigorous information management, cost increases can be overlooked, changes unrecorded, and relevant team members missed from email circulation lists.


The finance team wanted to avoid these pitfalls, ease the administration of the process and improve communication throughout a project’s lifecycle.



What we did

Whitbread was very happy with a previous database that change++ had built to track its new-build and expansionary projects, and the finance team was keen to have something similar to help the budget approval process for other projects.  


change++ designed and built a new database to manage all Whitbread projects, capital and revenue, from pre-approval of budget through to the point where the project is approved. It is called the Whitbread Approvals Database (WAD).


WAD allows an authorised user to enter a new project on the system at pre-approval stage, categorise it, upload documents and minutes, track all changes and comments, and list all associated stakeholders. Other authorised users can run parameterised standard reports, producing pre-formatted Excel output. It is a password-protected, secure system, ensuring changes can only be made by authorised parties.


When a project is ready for approval, the system automatically sends out a notification form for the project manager to verify. The project manager completes the form using information from the Whitbread Oracle Fusion system. This is then uploaded to WAD, updating the project data. The Finance team has visibility of current and future project spend, an audit trail of actions recorded in the change log and all the documents related to the project.


The results

According to Arfah Malik, Investment Process Lead in the Finance Transformation team at Whitbread, WAD has delivered multiple benefits to the business: “To know that all these projects are recorded, have the appropriate documentation attached and can be viewed by all the parties working on them, is important for effective management of the budgeting process, and for robust governance and control.”


Benefits include:

  • A centralised location for all documentation for new projects, giving separate teams access to one set of accurate, up-to-date information.
  • A unique password for each stakeholder giving them access to the project information relevant to their role – so security is always maintained at the right level.
  • Any changes are automatically logged and communicated to other parties – so no-one is accidentally left out of the loop.
  • Meeting notes can be easily uploaded and circulated to all relevant parties – keeping all stakeholders up to date.
  • A change log provides an easily accessible trail of actions, giving clear visibility for audit and governance.


Arfah Malik concludes: “Before WAD, the Investment Finance and Property teams used the Property Pipeline database to track approvals. Different spreadsheets were maintained by teams that were tracking other spend category approvals such as non-expansionary, information systems and overheads. The WAD database has enabled us to move these teams onto a joint process that works for all capital-related spend that requires Board approval.”