Going Live on a Healthcare ERP During COVID

A new ERP implementation is a monumental task for any organization, but for healthcare providers going live over the last 12 months, this came in the face of a significant headwind: a global pandemic. While faced with record patient volumes, limited supplies, and endless days and nights of work, most healthcare organizations also saw a significant impact to their financial position. 

Tips for Healthcare ERP implementation

The American Hospital Association estimates that in just the first 4 months of the pandemic, US hospitals and health systems lost over $200 billion. The thought of taking on an ERP implementation, one of the most significant changes an organization can undergo, can seem daunting. How have Oracle Cloud customers managed to press on to go live during the pandemic?

The Realities of Pushing an ERP Go-Live

2020 was a year like no other for the healthcare industry. As Incident Command teams were set up to work through soaring patient intakes, shortages of PPE, and limited staffing, those that were closely involved in an ERP project quickly discovered that their time was instead being spent on the emerging and evolving pandemic situation. Most supply chain teams were working around the clock just trying to keep up with the procurement and distribution of critical supplies. As many non-patient care employees were asked to work from home, the tasks at hand became even more difficult to sustain. When key ERP milestones were missed due to the crisis at hand, many organizations had to push their ERP go-live dates. 

For some, pushing out a go-live seems like a natural solution. However, there are certain realities to pushing projects to consider, and many of these can come at a significant cost. When weighing the decision to delay going live, there are three things you must keep in mind:

  • LEGACY SYSTEMS: The decision to terminate legacy systems are often made years in advance, and changes to those agreements can result in added cost of keeping the outdated systems longer or with overlap of new systems.
  • COST OF RESOURCES: Every ERP implementation project comes with multiple professional/consulting services and any push of the timeline extends the need for these resources to remain engaged and often at a high additional cost.
  • TIMING: Timing of the go live is frequently aligned with quarter or year-end dates to line up with financial close cycles, making it difficult to simply move dates by weeks or months.

Watch Now: COVID and the Healthcare Supply Chain

Moving Forward and Finding Success with Oracle Cloud

Late last year, Oracle Cloud customer CentraCare went live in the midst of the pandemic. Recently, the RF-SMART team had the chance to go onsite with CentraCare to see their supply chain logistics operations. They faced many of the traditional challenges of any ERP implementation such as change management, testing, and the overall need for cross-functional coordination. COVID made performing these activities even more difficult than normal.

What the pandemic did for many healthcare providers is expose the shortcomings of outdated systems, especially in supply chain. When faced with the decision to push or move forward, refocusing on the fact that a new ERP has the opportunity to drastically improve operations after the dust of a go-live has settled must remain at the forefront of the decision-making process. At CentraCare, their supply chain is stronger now because they decided to stick to their decision to implement. Now, they are better positioned to meet the challenges ahead. The choice to move to a new ERP stems from the general belief that migrating to best-in-class technology move an organization forward and sustain it for years to come; this is the goal we cannot forget.

Success also came at the hands of dedicating resources to focus on keeping the project moving forward despite the pandemic. As the chaos of the initial phase of the pandemic eased into more of a routine, organizations like CentraCare were able to refocus on the project and continue with their efforts. This also meant adjustments to the implementation approach, such as virtual training and remote project team coordination. Ultimately, what helped these organizations prevail was a recognition that the benefits and value of a new best-in-class ERP outweigh the risks.

How do You Know You're Ready?

Going live on your ERP might parallel that age-old question that many couples go through about when to have their first child: "Are we ready?" The reality is, waiting until everything is perfectly aligned and ready can be a seemingly elusive goal, and at some point, you just make the decision to move forward. For many of those healthcare organizations that faced this decision relative to their ERP go-live, it largely came down to simply needing to push forward and not delay further. Despite all the setbacks and challenges, at some point you just must rip off the bandage and go live.

Want to learn more? Read COVID-19 and the Healthcare Supply Chain:

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About the Author: Bill Brewer currently serves as Healthcare Product Manager at RF-SMART in Jacksonville, Florida. In this role Bill is responsible for overseeing RF-SMART’s healthcare supply chain strategy and roadmap. Prior to his appointment at RF-SMART, Bill served as Regional Director, Materials Management at USPI/Tenet Healthcare. He has also served in supply chain leadership roles at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, UFHealth, and University of Missouri Healthcare. Brewer holds a Master of Health Administration and a Master of Science in Health in Health Informatics from the University of Missouri. Read his other posts on The Delivery Chain Blackhole and COVID and The Supply Chain.