Most healthcare organizations support their human resources, payroll, finance, and supply chain (all systems together commonly known as Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP) operations on technology that has been in place for 10, 15 or 20 years. While these legacy systems have effectively served their purposes in the past, the COVID-19 crisis has added new challenges and stressed these on-premise, legacy technologies further, which often results in healthcare providers struggling to keep up with current and future demands in the context of a new operating environment.
As a result, organizations are increasingly embarking on a journey to select a new ERP system, now offered and delivered as Software as a Service (SaaS). Their first realization is this effort is not a technology project but instead a business-led, transformation initiative. Gone are the days of retaining current processes, while molding new, replacement technology to an organization’s “uniqueness.” Now, the greater sustainable value is in adopting industry-leading and proven business processes, while benefiting from their healthcare peers’ collective best practices embedded in new cloud-based solutions.
What does this mean for the various functional areas? It means taking a step back and asking what is the business outcome? What is needed to deliver and accomplish the desired outcomes versus what has always been done?
Here are a few ways an organization can accomplish this transition or transformation.
- Approach the project as a new start – not a “lift and shift.”
- Prepare teams to answer the question “Why not?” and use best practices.
- Focus on the outcome of the process.
- Utilize the technology of the new system to transition overall requirements and remaining manual processes to well-designed, automated workflows.
- Prepare for and rely on change management expertise. Everyone appears to want change until they’re asked to make the change themselves.
- Be ready to think creativity by leaning into the designs and capabilities of these new, emerging technologies.
Next, we’ll dive into some specific expertise and tools that are needed to help your organization succeed.
Start early and keep it front and center through the entire transformation. Include key aspects (such as identifying your champions and resisters); establish effective, targeted communications from inception to production; and provide ample time for team members to navigate through the transition phases in order to understand, accept, and embrace the change. Do not underestimate change management as simply training issues. Change management is the key element to ensure adoption and the success of your transformation.
The new systems are designed to provide industry-leading processes, not only during the initial implementation, but routinely throughout the system’s entire lifecycle. Project teams need to understand and translate what the organization is doing now into what will occur in the future. This effort is greater than how the new system works; this is the translation effort and process of learning new habits. This is the time to build buy-in and adherence to the new system, approach and processes.
Do not underestimate the implementation effort. The project teams will be interdependent, and as such, will be configuring and interacting in the same environment. More than ever, visibility and understanding across each of the operational pillars will be paramount. To oversee and attain a smooth transition, an experienced leader or leaders will need to be identified, assigned full-time, and leading the effort.
Establishing strong governance and executive sponsorship at the onset of the initiative is key for success and smooth decision-making, which is required throughout the implementation. Establishing firm senior leadership and an effective governance structure will be the most important ingredient for your ERP system program. This structure will be critical, as your teams work harmoniously during planning, configuring, testing, training, and go-live of the system. This governance structure requires two key components:
- Decisions are made by prioritizing the best interest of the organization with the goal of optimizing the overall enterprise.
- When decisions are vetted and made, all areas will support and adhere to the decisions.
Impact Advisors is a trusted partner through these journeys and transformations. With decades of experience working with healthcare systems in the planning and implementing of their mission critical and enabling technology such as electronic health record systems (EHR), we have enhanced our proven selection and implementation methodology with market-leading healthcare ERP system knowledge. Impact Advisors partners with our clients, as well as with leading ERP vendors, to bring you a tailored approach for your ERP assessment, selection, and implementation objectives.