When the demos are done and the ink is dry on the contacts, the messy and detailed work of extracting data from client IT systems gets underway in earnest. We have likely already had a meeting or two with IT leadership where we can make a first impression and help them understand the type of data we need, but we’ve yet to dive deep into details.

The unhelpful platitude We need to keep the project on time hides a much more fundamental truth that it’s actually quite challenging to tell if a project is on time or not. This blog series will explore what it means to engage client IT teams on the following three dimensions:

  • Make the data lift as easy as possible for both us and the client
  • Deploy a set of tools and best practices to accurately measure and report project status
  • Engage the team to produce quality work and maintain forward momentum
Read the second blog in Ben Resner’s series on how to best manage IT projects, Hospital Data Management & Preventing Forever-itis in IT Projects

Obstacles to Timely Project Adoption

The effectiveness of this approach was highlighted in an implementation from a major midwestern client about two years ago. The project was about 80% done when we received this email from the team lead:

“We are running into a resource issue. They want to pull these resources for another project and put us on hold for about six (6) weeks. I was reviewing the work of the individuals below and it looks like we are really close to done. I am also looking for talking points as to why this should not be delayed.”

Needless to say, this was alarming. We had been making steady progress, and we all know that a “six-week delay” is a minimum bound, not a maximum. But precisely because we were able to document we were about two weeks from completion, it was decided the thrashing caused by freezing and thawing this project wasn’t worth putting this IT team on the other project.

Had this project been a vague collection of moving requirements, the IT team would have been eager for the excuse to disengage, likely with secret optimism the project would remain dormant long enough to be outright cancelled, or handed over to another team upon resumption.

Keep to a Well-Defined Route

I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say this project was professionally rewarding for both Hospital IQ and the client IT team. It was well-defined and on track. It was important to the clinical users who were increasingly signaling eagerness for the go-live. Crossing the finish line was an accomplishment that would have reflected positively in everyone’s employee review.

We all know that success has many parents, but failure is an orphan. Our goal is to make all IT integrations successful projects that people want to be part of. At another client in Florida, our weekly IT status meetings started with the two core report writers and grew to up to 17 client participants three months later at our go-live. As this project gained a reputation for success, staff wanted to be included.

Next time you’re curious if a given project is a success, ask yourself how many people at the next project meeting are there because it’s their job to be there, or because they want to be there.

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