Every organization, at one time or another, goes through some type of system upgrade or implementation. Common practice is to develop a very detailed project plan. These documents are laid out to ensure that all tasks are performed and that all deadlines are met. Meetings are scheduled, milestones are agreed upon, and staff are informed of what to expect. Unfortunately what may look like a well thought out plan on paper may not address the day-to-day issues that can often disrupt a thoughtful plan.
So how do you prevent this kind of interruption? It is good practice to think about possible stumbling blocks that can cause employee angst, reworking of project plans, and/or potential deadline delays. Take a look at the following potential road blocks and how to prevent them.
Potential stumbling blocks:
- Calendar disruptors – Consider outside elements that may cause changes to the calendar. For example, are there holidays which need to be taken into account during the timeline development? A long three day weekend, like Memorial Day, typically means a reduced staff for testing and training. In the northeast, is it wise to plan for a winter go-live? In Florida, which of the months could impact a successful project during hurricane season? Weather conditions can have the potential to wreak havoc on a well thought out project plan.
- Business office constraints – Take a look at potential business office constraints. If the expectation is to have business office staff training during month end close it is unlikely that those training sessions will be well attended. Are there any other upgrades or implementations that may be going on at the same time? If so, there may be a limited resource pool to pull from. Keep in mind that employees may already be concerned if they are currently spread too thin.
- Training and testing limitations – Depending on the size of the office that is scheduled to attend training or provide testing assistance take all schedules and workloads into consideration. If it is a small office, where each provider has a heavy schedule, how likely will it be that staff can attend training classes or testing assistance while ensuring that patient care is not being compromised? Look at additional resources or supplemental staff to fill in so staff can leave the office and attend training sessions.
- Inadequate go-live support – Another component worthy of evaluation and consideration is go-live support. Most organizations incorporate a “help line” to aid the staff after a go-live. But what happens to that large practice that has a long line of patients, phones ringing, providers requiring attention, and employee anxiety? There needs to be a plan in place to circle back with those practices and make sure they are getting the necessary support.
To ensure your system implementation goes smoothly, consider the following steps:
- Develop a well thought out project plan.
- Make sure the objectives are clear.
- Coordinate training schedule with business office needs.
- Allocate resources and back-up plans early in the planning process.
- Provide consistent and clear communication.
It is important to understand that little changes may impact well intentioned go-live of a system implementation. A well thought out project plan that accounts for these stumbling blocks and has contingencies built in will help to ensure a successful go-live. You can then focus on ensuring employee and patient satisfaction, which helps everyone in the long run.