3 Tips for a Successful Healthcare Supply Chain Software Implementation

Any company implementing a new healthcare supply chain software solution needs their go-live to be a success - the first time. The goal of implementing software at a healthcare organization is to put in place reliable IT systems to ensure the continuity of patient care and business operations. You need to guarantee the right product is at the right place at the right time. When patient outcomes are on the line, there is no leeway on the success of your implementation. Here are three tips to ensure the success of your go-live:

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1. Clearly Define Scope & Timeline

A software project can be a huge undertaking, which means it's easy to underestimate the time and resources needed. The best way to determine scope and timeline for your project is through regular communication with your implementation team. We recommend having scoping documents readily available to all project participants, as well as regularly reviewing any updates and changes in project meetings. Additionally, creating a timeline is vital to the success of your implementation project.

Some things to consider as you create your timeline are:

  • Identify a PM: Identify a project management team that will be steering the implementation
  • Documentation is key: As events are planned, make sure the dates and associated needs are documented and communicated
  • Make sure there's space: Book rooms for testing and training
  • Distribute schedules: Make personnel aware of their attendance schedule
  • Have technology ready: Coordinate with your IT team to have the technology available for implementation
  • Have a back-up plan: Consider adding back-up dates alongside your planned date—it is not unusual for project dates to shift due to unforeseen circumstances.

Pro Tip: Testing Events

Testing events are an investment in the success of a project. Make sure your team has ample time to do thorough testing. A rushed testing event results in issues later. Give your team time to reflect on the scenarios they are working through and leave room for testing common interruptions in their current state workflows. Robust testing now will bring to light problems that will otherwise only be identified at go-live.

2. Make Staff Available

It's important to create a direct line of communication between decision makers, operational leaders, and the implementation team. This can be done by setting up a special project email, creating a group on Slack or Teams, or by simply having a clear project leader present at every planning event. Having a decision-maker present allows for processes to be changed and streamlined as impediments are discovered. The greater the disconnect between the executive sponsor and the project team, the more likely inefficient processes may be accepted to satisfy a requirement.

When conducting integration testing, have all the actual end-users executing their area of responsibility instead of a single super user covering for multiple roles. This will give much clearer insight into where points of friction will occur in production. Outside of integration testing, have a mix of super users and end users executing the test scripts. You would be surprised how differently a group of people with the same task go about performing it.

Pro Tip: Include End Users in Decisions

Include end users in decision-making meetings. All too often, the reality of a workflow does not align with how management understands it. These gaps in understanding result in friction and frustration once converted and can grind your team to a halt.

3. User Training/Cutover Planning

One of the leading causes of confusion at go-live is a lack of training. Make it super simple and easy for users to get into the new system (and challenging to find the old system). Have decision makers take the steps of what a user will experience at go-live to predict problems before they occur.

Consider these tips for training:

  • Ensure training is close to go-live. If go-live pushes, have refresher courses.
  • Do not have a single, longer training event, but shorter sessions catering to specific tasks or subject area. Users will be unlikely to retain most of the content from a 6-hour training session.
  • No matter how much training is conducted, some things will be forgotten or missed. Make sure new processes are documented and readily available to staff.

Pro-Tip: Did We Mention Documentation?

Having proper documentation for each step in the implementation is the number one way to ensure you will have a successful go-live. Not only does it allow for preparation, it can also aid in risk management and training in the future.

Ultimately there are dozens of factors that play into a successful implementation, but by assuring these aspects are appropriately addressed, you will avoid some of the biggest and most common pitfalls of a software conversion. At RF-SMART, we have more than 40 years of inventory management experience, and our dedicated healthcare team is ready to help you in your implementation. Ready to learn more? Check out this video from Oracle Cloud Customer CentraCare on their implementation experience with RF-SMART.

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About the Author:

Joseph LaRoche currently serves as the Healthcare Product Owner at RF-SMART in Jacksonville, Florida. In his role, Joey coordinates with our developers to oversee the execution of RF-SMART's Healthcare roadmap. Prior to joining RF-SMART, Joey consulted on and implemented Oracle ERP SCM modules at hospitals while working at Cerner Corporation. Joey is a Certified Materials & Resource Professional as recognized by ARHMM (The Association for Health Care Resource & Materials Management).