This Week Health

When you have 120 projects going at any point in time, little changes can free people up to be much more effective. Today we explore a simple approach.

Transcript
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Today in health. It, no story. As with yesterday, I want to talk about a topic that keeps coming up in my discussions with health it leaders, and that is project management. My name is bill Russell. I'm a former CIO for a 16 hospital system and creator of this week and health. It. I channeled dedicated to keeping health it staff current and engaged. I want to thank our sponsor for today's serious healthcare. They reached out about this time last year. And said, we love what you're doing and really appreciate your mission to develop the next generation of health leaders. The rest is history, as they say, if you believe in our mission. And want to support the show as well. Please shoot me a note at partner at this week in health. It. Dot com. All right, so here's today's story. Well, I'm sorry. No story today. Just a discussion, a short discussion, really on projects. The good, the bad and the ugly. One of the things people don't appreciate about healthcare is the number of projects we have going on. At any given time. Before I get there, though, let me define a project. The project has a defined start and end date. It has a specified budget and a business sponsor. Even it projects should be assigned to a business sponsor, but be careful not to have too many projects with the same business owner. That to me is one of the red flags. Now that we have a definition, what are some of the things I've noticed about how projects are handled in healthcare? The first question I would ask is, do you have a project inventory? Do you know all the projects that your team is currently working on? You may have a PMO, but at the end of the day, each it leader should know what projects their team is working on. When a leader loses touch with how many projects or how resource intensive projects are that their team is working on, they are probably not focused on the right things. Sometimes I hear CIO say that they have managers who oversee that. And I always tell Them the same thing. Those managers report to you and the business leaders are going to look to you to ensure that the projects get done. Therefore, no matter how strategic you want your thinking to be a good portion of your week will be spent ensuring your projects are properly resourced. Remove any obstacles the team may face. And make sure projects are launched effectively. For the CIO. This is in addition to the it operation, which is your responsibility as well. In this area. I found that you get this right when you start. Put the right team and leadership in place. And then you only have to check in on it. Periodically projects, take up a majority of my time as a CIO. Since quite frankly, they take up a majority of my budget and encompass a majority of the expectations. Of the organization on the CIO. I find that really makes sense. If you're wondering operations took up about 70% of my time in the first year with 29% being dedicated to projects and about 1% on innovation. After year one operations took up about 10% of my time with projects. It's still eating up about 70% of my time. And 20% was then placed on innovation after that, it becomes about how can you make projects more efficient to free up your time to really move the needle strategically for the health system. The first thing I found was that I had a stable of about 120 projects going on. At any one time. I have people say to me all the time, we handle a lot more projects than that. And I immediately think that this really shouldn't be a badge of honor. It's a representation for governance. I had a $200 million operating budget and in any given year, another a hundred million in capital that we were spending on projects. And we had close to a thousand people between it and clinical informatics. And it's not that we couldn't do more projects. It's that, that really isn't the goal. The goal isn't to do more projects, but the right projects. I realized this is a tangent, but it's a consistent issue that I keep seeing coming up. The moral of the story is. No, what you're trying to accomplish and get that done. Don't stack up projects to show how much work you can do. Here's what I was getting at we're efficient with projects. I had 120 projects and they all reported. On their projects with a little different version of a status report. And when I say a little different, a lot different version of a status report. Somewhere in Excel, somewhere in PowerPoint, some had a dashboard, some didn't. When I got there, they were recommending that we get some sort of project tool. My experience with project tools is that they are a hungry beast. You have to feed them with time and money and training to make them work. The best tool for reporting on projects is the one that everyone knows how to use. We chose Excel and PowerPoint. Uh, Seriously? Yes, seriously. I talked with an executive at GE capital once and asked him how they track their projects. And he looked at me and said, Excel. I asked why. And he said that it's a tool that everybody understood. They didn't have to provide any training on it. And it was easy to customize based on certain projects. But that doesn't create efficiency in and of itself. So how do you do that? And I think the best way to create efficiency is to adopt a single project management methodology and one way of running projects. We partnered with UCI university of California at Irvine. And they taught all of our project managers how to run projects that was people within the organization and people external to the organization before they could run a project for us. They had to go through this training. They created a set of tools, which included a dashboard and risk registers and all the things that, that you see in the PMI, the project management institutes. Approach to doing projects. But one of the things they included was a dashboard that tracked each project. On the critical project success factors. In one page, we could see the risks, the status, the project owner, the next steps. It also had the obstacles that they needed executive support on. I went from having 120 different documents to decipher, to having the same document for each project. I was much more efficient. Our project teams were more efficient. It turns out that the organization was more efficient and the entire organization adopted this reporting and project management methodology across the entire organization. Getting project governance and project management in line allowed me in subsequent years to focus a lot more time on innovation and the gnarly problems facing our health system. I would say to you, this is a way to really take a significant step forward. I consider getting a project management approach buttoned up and getting your project tracking standardized across your health system. That's all for today. If you know someone that might benefit from our channel, please forward them a note. They can subscribe on our website this week, health.com or wherever you listen to podcasts, apple, Google, overcast, Spotify, Stitcher, you get the picture. We are everywhere. We want to thank our channel sponsors who are invested in our mission to develop the next generation of health leaders. VMware Hill-Rom Sturbridge advisors, McAfee and Aruba networks. Thanks for listening. That's all for now.

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