Electronic Health Record (EHR) and Electronic Medical Record (EMR) implementations, upgrades, and workflow redesigns are complex. Project management provides the tools you need for success. Here are ten project management tips for non-project managers to help you achieve your goals.
1. Identify a Strong Project ManagerA Project Manager keeps your project on time, on budget, and within scope. They are your single point of contact for project structures, plans, timelines, and budgets. An ideal Project Manager will have a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. You should identify an experienced, organized Project Manager who your team trusts to keep them on track. If you work with TempDev, they will assign you a dedicated, PMP-certified Project Manager for your NextGen EHR implementation, upgrade, or workflow redesign.
2. Gather the Right TeamImplementing an EHR, upgrading an EHR, and redesigning workflows are all big undertakings. Successful completion takes an organized team. Besides to a Project Manager, your EHR project team will likely include consultants like TempDev, high-level decision-makers in your organization, trainers, superusers, and staff representatives. Superusers receive extensive training and serve as in-house resources and champions for the new system. Both clinicians and non-clinical staff should serve in the superuser and representative roles.
3. Create a Project StructureA project structure is the organization chart specific to your EHR project. It clarifies the team's decision-making processes, escalation paths, and lines of communication. The project structure also describes how the team relates to the rest of the organization, and the role of vendors and consultants. A clear project structure helps the team and the rest of your organization see who needs to be involved in project-related decision-making and how to escalate issues. By clarifying roles and responsibilities, a project structure can help prevent confusion about decision-making authority and ensure coordination across the team's work.
4. Make a Project PlanA project plan is your blueprint for your EHR implementation, upgrade, or workflow redesign. It should break down the tasks that need to be completed during the life of the project, place them in a logical sequence, and assign timelines, budgets, and personnel. A project plan organizes the work of the team and ensures that all team members know what tasks need to be completed, when, and by whom. A project plan should identify key milestones. These are major project deadlines with multiple interdependencies. Missing a key milestone could jeopardize your entire project. Your Project Manager will keep careful track of progress toward these key milestones, and your project plan should identify risks and mitigation plans should the team not meet these milestones.
5. Establish Communication ChannelsClear, consistent communication is the key to successful project management. The team, your broader organization, and any vendors or consultants need to know when and how to communicate with each other. Large, complex projects like EHR implementation or upgrades require open communication channels that encourage honest reporting of both successes and challenges. Here are some fundamental communication approaches to consider implementing:
- Regular meetings to ease collaboration between team members.
- Status reports, dashboards, or updates to ensure leadership and staff are aware of progress.
- Regular updates to the project plan to help the team adjust to new realities and stay on track.
- Clear lines of authority and communication with outside vendors and consultants to ease coordination across organizations.
6. Set Realistic TimelinesGood project management requires balancing speed, quality, and price. Generally speaking, a fast project will have to sacrifice either quality or price to ensure a quick timeline. By setting realistic timelines at the outset, you increase your chance of success. Setting and meeting realistic timelines can also save your organization money and improve satisfaction with your EHR system.
7. Fight Scope CreepEHR systems are increasingly powerful, offering a wide array of tools that could increase your efficiency and productivity. As the possibilities of your EHR become clear, they may tempt you to increase your project scope to broaden the impact of your EHR. This is scope creep, and it can imperil your focus, timeline, and budget. Your organization's leadership should empower the Project Manager to set aside requests that fall outside of the original project scope. If time and budget permit after the team successfully complete the initial project, you can consider additional tasks.
8. Know Your RisksA risk is any event or occurrence that can negatively affect your project's timeline, budget, or quality. Risks can range from everyday occurrences like a staff member's absence to rare events like unexpected office closures or data breaches. The Project Manager should be vigilant about identifying and assessing risks. They should also empower the team to identify potential risks and escalate emerging problems. A professional Project Manager with EHR implementation experience, like those at TempDev, will be more adept at identifying and categorizing risks than those with less specialized knowledge.
9. Plan for the UnexpectedAs noted above, the project team should regularly scan the horizon for risks. They should categorize identified risks by their likelihood of occurring and their negative effects should they appear. The Project Manager should develop a mitigation plan for risks that are highly likely to occur and risks would have a large negative impact on the project. Where possible, building slack into your timelines and/or budget can also protect your EHR project against unexpected risks. The Project Manager can allocate this time and budget slack as needed to keep key milestones on track.
10. Watch Your BudgetProject management requires constant attention to resources, including both time and money. Good budget management starts with the project plan, where you will estimate a budget for each task. As tasks get underway, your Project Manager should regularly assess task budgets, identify overruns and savings, and realign resources to keep the project on budget. By keeping careful track of your budget, you can save money without sacrificing quality.
How TempDev Can HelpTempDev's team of PMP-certified Project Managers are here to help with your NextGen EHR project needs. Call us at 888.TEMP.DEV, or contact us here to get started.
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