© Best Practices in IT Leadership, Mosaic Media, Inc.
Today’s healthcare systems demand enhanced productivity, reduced expense, new efficiencies, better data analysis, and a wider scope of services. Virtually all these new services include IT components, which require technical know-how and project coordination skills from IT leaders.
In response to the constant influx of project requests, Bloomington Hospital restructured its IT department to foster professional project management practices. As part of the restructuring, the hospital created several new “Information Manager” positions. These leaders are responsible for managing IT projects according to newly adopted standards, which were emphasized in a series of training workshops.
In identifying the Information Manager’s role, we determined that IT staff needed to:
Assure that tasks common to all projects stop “falling through the cracks”
Get firmer commitments from (and identify clearer roles for) team members
Define a consistent method for managing changes in project scope
• Learn from, don’t repeat mistakes
• Get teams out of “reaction” mode and focused on planned tasks
Address time and cost overruns
Standardize our general project management approach.
To provide everyone with the same foundation in project management principles so
projects would be managed consistently, regardless of who was involved
To create repeatable processes, a means of evaluating success, and a forum for
learning from mistakes
To find efficient ways to track project progress, communicate it clearly, and
meet target dates
To improve our ability to identify and schedule required resources in advance.
first two-day workshop focused on general project management principles. The
participants already understood the classic time-money-scope triad of project
management, but other basic concepts were new and generated excited discussion.
The workshop focused on establishing six best practices for IT project
Document and approve project scope before beginning
Require every project to have a sponsor
Identify risks in advance, and plan for contingencies and mitigations
Identify a definite end for each project
Document and learn from failures
Learn from (and celebrate) accomplishments.
with these best practices, we improved and streamlined several of our processes.
First, we made one staff member responsible for updating all project timelines
in Microsoft Project. Next, we developed a project template, listing as many
commonly recurring tasks as possible. We also made project kickoff meetings a
later: The training continues
first workshop this year was a two-day training session on Microsoft Project
2000, bringing together Information Managers and other IT staff members who
figure prominently in all implementation project teams.
next day, key members met with our workshop coordinator to plan a Case Study
workshop, to be held a few weeks later. We formed three teams and assigned each
a real project scheduled for startup within the next six months. We then
identified in-class goals to help develop a structure for the workshop and
provide a means of evaluation:
To test the effectiveness of using shared resource pools in independent projects
and then rolling the projects together
To identify and produce four reports from Project 2000 that team members felt
would communicate project status most effectively
To share past learning experiences by having each team produce a list of
“Do’s, Don’ts, and Gotcha’s” from a recent project.
final measure of success, we set a goal that 90 percent of the workshop
evaluations should come in with positive feedback that the participants had
grasped a new, significant concept or skill they would use on the job.
often happens, we overestimated what we could achieve within the allotted time.
The major goal we missed, to roll up the three projects and do resource leveling
across the combination, was so important to the staff that it was a perfect
impetus for another workshop in the fall. Some of our key techniques for success
Including a cross-section of staff members, not just the IM staff
Holding sessions away from the main hospital campus to eliminate interruptions
and encourage fun
Focusing on real-life examples and hands-on experiences
Structuring the workshop agenda to meet stated goals
Reinforcing the principles of project management over time with follow-up
planning sessions and workshops.
definition, every project has a beginning and an end. But the development of
sound project management practices is a process without end. It requires
iterative cycles, continuous improvement, repetition, and the committed support
of all participants and stakeholders.