When Standardization Works—and Why
The best standardized processes serve people, not the other way around.
As healthcare providers join forces and form alliances, standardizing their IT systems and workflows to gain operational efficiencies is both an opportunity and a challenge. Our client, a large academic healthcare system, was eager to upgrade key systems across multiple hospitals in its expanding system. Although both entities used McKesson software in their Accounting/Finance, Operating Room and Material Management departments, different groups were working with different versions. Some had not been upgraded for years. Our client’s goal: to bring everyone together around standard workflows and system configuration that would take advantage of a system-wide upgrade to the latest version of the McKesson software. In addition to the typical challenges of implementing new systems and workflows, some stakeholders were resistant to standardizing across the new alliance.
When our client engaged us nine months into the project, it was clear that lack of stakeholder alignment had slowed progress. There was no consistent view of the project objectives among stakeholders. We quickly conducted over 25 stakeholder interviews to identify the problems. Based on what we learned, we developed a project charter that clarified goals and how to address them.
We built stakeholder support from the beginning by engaging and empowering a large team of the right people: the experts who use the system every day to do their work. We discussed and resolved lingering controversies within the first three weeks, focusing the issues and creating the clarity needed to stop revisiting old issues and move forward. We gave the internal team the information and support to talk things out and make decisions. As a result, the final project plan was well vetted and moved into action on a broad base of support, drawing on the best of each user group and incorporating their strengths into common processes that served both entities. This plan quickly became the central document for the project, generating strong stakeholder buy-in and accountability.
With a clear plan and strong internal momentum, we also served as an advocate for our client in managing its relationship with the software vendor. We acted as a strategic partner to our client in helping to define and achieve its goals with the vendor. As project leaders, we instituted strong filters so that very few issues required attention at the project sponsors’ level.
The system upgrade and synchronized workflows were launched on time and under budget across three departments at both entities. Across the Accounting/Finance, Operating Room and Material Management departments, users are sharing the benefits of the latest version of McKesson software, along with standardized workflows that reflect the best of both entities and advance their journey of integrating into a single organization. Staff can work in both places as a productive part of the greater whole.
We also ensured that our client has tools and processes that can be easily and cost-effectively reused as future upgrades are implemented. The result is higher performance and productivity, greater flexibility—and a major advance in achieving our client’s unifying vision.