In Part I of our 2-part series, we tackled the key factors that drive a successful IT project. If you have not had a chance to check out Part I, you can do so here. In Part II, we discuss how to develop and execute your project plan and the rippling effects of IT project failures.
Managing a transformative project for an organization is both challenging and rewarding. As consultants, we are frequently asked by clients what our secret is to successful project implementation. Our secret is in the planning.
Companies throughout the healthcare industry, whether small or large, are familiar with project charters and project plans. A project charter is the overall guide to the details of the project and the plan is the backbone of any undertaking.
However, one of the things that we consistently see at client sites is that organizations are using dated tools such as spreadsheets or a program list full of detailed tasks. While these are necessary components, they do not go far enough to ensure that a specific project or groups of projects are fully realized, planned, and meaningful to the organization.
The traditional project plan, that most organizations use, satisfies the who, what, and where of a particular project and aids in tracking and managing tasks, budget, milestones, and deliverables. All of these are crucial factors to the success of any project. However, we use our John Lynch & Associates’ Comprehensive Project Charter which goes beyond the traditional measures to include areas that:
A comprehensive project charter allows your project managers and teams to prepare for every aspect of a transformative project. Furthermore, giving your project leaders the tools and time that they need to proactively manage and mitigate any potential disruptions or roadblocks significantly increases the chances of a successful and effective project. For your convenience, we have provided a simplified version of our project charter below.
Implement a quality documentation system that every project team member is trained in. Team members should know exactly why, when, and how each part of the project is being implemented.
Verify the overall results of the project and that the system functionality performs at the expected level. Testing ensures team members have done their job well and the implementation was successful.
Whether your project is small enough to be handled by one project manager or you have a team of four to five managers working together, there should be a consistent system of biweekly reporting to ensure that enough progress is being made between reports to build momentum and emotional buy-in from the team, while being frequent enough to allow for course corrections as needed.
Finally, the project will come to completion. During this time, you will need to measure your key performance indicators (KPIs) in the context of the baselines that were established at the start of the project.
Also, evaluate the success of your IT project by addressing questions such as:
Identify the strengths, weaknesses, and accurate timelines so that next time your organization needs to execute a similar plan, you will be better equipped to do so. Create an open forum where trust is established, and project participants feel safe in expressing their opinions. The focus of the evaluation process should be a collaboration on improving on mistakes and duplicating successes for future projects.
Lastly, reinforce the strength of your organizational systems by implementing control strategies. For example, set a recurring appointment with your team to evaluate your operations to identify any areas that need to be reinforced. Then, implement training for new skills, re-train employees on existing work requirements, and consistently evaluate workflows, which naturally evolve over time.
The failure rate of healthcare IT projects is staggeringly high. Many contributing factors that lead to healthcare IT project failures include:
Failure to successfully implement a project comes at great cost for a healthcare organization including:
Unfortunately, these negative outcomes often trickle down to the patient in the form of longer patient wait times, dissatisfaction, failure to receive adequate information, and overall inadequate quality of care.
A more prudent strategy would be to keep your valuable internal team in their current positions and bring in external help for the short-term project of implementing a new solution and training staff members on how to use the new system to its fullest potential.
We have seen first-hand how implementing a clinical solution from a strategic, expert level has helped our clients. Some of the most common outcomes include:
One of the most rewarding benefits we help our clients achieve is establishing a system that allows physicians, PAs, and clinicians to practice to the top of their licenses. In other words, we help each staff member work to the top of his or her ability and credentials, which creates greater efficiency within the entire organizational ecosystem.
For example, if a physician is doing work that a PA or administrator can do, then that physician is not making the best use of his or her time. With front office staff working to the top of their credentials, and nurses and PAs doing the same, this takes a significant burden off physicians and frees up valuable time and energy that can be allocated to improved quality of patient care.
While it may be difficult to envision how something as technical as executing an IT clinical solution successfully can affect something as personal as the quality of care patients receive, the connection runs deep.
The IT systems we rely on every day allow us to serve patients better, more efficiently, and with greater dedication, which is precisely why our expert project managers are dedicated to advancing healthcare through consulting excellence.
Implementing a healthcare IT project of any size is challenging and the cost of a project executed successfully the first time far outweighs the cost of a failed one. If you are preparing to start a healthcare IT project, connect with a project manager at 623.980.8018 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
In this featured case study, our project managers partnered with two hospitals and ambulatory practices to develop and deliver a Request for Information (RFI) to prospective vendors, provide guidance during system selection, and deploy project management services throughout each phase of their project.
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