Why do we continually throw our competitive advantage away??
By Darcey Trescone
Competitive advantage is what any organization in any industry strives for. There are numerous articles and hundreds of books written about “How to gain a competitive advantage”. In the homecare and hospice industry we continue to ignore that a solid Electronic Health Record implementation becomes irrelevant once the initial purchase is made.
Competitive advantage is gained when there is a cost advantage (we provide the same service as a competitor at a lower cost) and a differentiation advantage (we provide same service as a competitor, but our services are considered superior or preferable to our competitors by our customers). When the decision is made to purchase a new software system most executives are looking for operational efficiencies and a high staff satisfaction, but this is not carried forward during the implementation of the new system. Does your organization fall into this population?
Why software implementations fail and the most commonly heard responses from executives.
- Lack of executive commitment
- Executive response: I made the final decision and signed the contract now my team and the vendor need to make this work.
- Unrealistic expectations
- Executive response: This new system is going to solve most of our problems and give me the executive reporting I need to make business decisions…just need to get the system in place and we will be all good.
- Poor requirements definition
- Executive response: My team participated in the demo and they signed off that the system will work for us. Also, every organization functions the same and the vendor has lots of experience implementing other organizations like us.
- Inadequate resources
- Executive response: This is the vendor’s job and we were assured that our resources would not need to spend much time during the initial conversations with the vendor.
- Unrealistic budgets and schedules
- Executive response: We need this system implemented before the new regulations go into place next month. There should be no reason we can’t get this system in place in the next 30 days. How hard could it be?
- Lack of Project Management oversight
- Executive response: This is the vendors responsibility not mine.
- Underestimating the impact of change
- Executive response: Well no one likes “change”. They will just have to get used to it.
- Poor communication
- Executive response: The team knew this new software was going to be implemented…what else really needs to be communicated?
Gaining competitive advantage could be as simple as project oversight responsibility on your team while maintaining your executive involvement in the implementation. Building the value proposition from top leadership down to the individual employee is key in achieving total stakeholder buy in across your organization and achieving implementation success.
Project Oversight High Level:
- Identify the real issues – interview each functional area, understand the workflow and figure out exactly what you want to improve and what will make your teams satisfied with the new tool.
- Stakeholder engagement – involve people who may be affected or can influence the implementation of decisions.
- Create Shared Value – why do your stakeholders including your patients want or need this project to be successful.
- Set realistic timeframes – consider vacations and employee hours worked…requiring people to work their regular 10-hour day plus another 1-2 hours or more a day to support your implementation is just craziness.
- Align the work flow/teams – how do your business operations flow and ensuring you have the right people from each functional area working together to ensure efficient handoff of information.
- Manage the expectations through regular meetings, good communication and supporting timely business decisions about how you will function with the new HER software.
Seeking objectivity from an outside source is very valuable in guiding this whole process. An outsider view on what is going well, what is going wrong and potential risks to watch out for as the project progresses can help uncover areas both the vendor and your team may miss.
If you presently have a competitive advantage without a solid software implementation than you are lucky. This may change in 3-5 years as your market grows and new competitors are after the same business and competitive advantage in your space.