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  • Susan Snedaker

Boost IT Operational Excellence with IT Improvement Projects

So, we've just kicked off a new year and if you're like most in healthcare IT, you already have a full calendar through June. Upgrades, new initiatives, new projects all come alive like magical beings at the stroke of midnight in the new year. And it's so tempting to jump right into those new initiatives and projects, many of which are employing automation, machine learning, or artificial intelligence. It's intriguing, it's innovative, it's...progress. It's also a bit insidious as these shiny new projects take up more IT resources leaving fewer to oversee daily operations. If this describes your IT department, keep reading.

Operational Excellence is Your Key to Success

While it will never be exciting, it is incredibly energizing to improve operations within the IT department. Improving your internal workflows, optimizing the IT tools you use from your ticketing system to your network monitoring tools and everything in between. It removes the roadblocks and time-consuming non-value-added tasks that annoy everyone. It reduces the time spent on operational tasks, it improves the quality of work and the speed at which work is delivered. To boost operational capabilities, you need to develop internal projects to drive improvement.

Prioritize Operational Work

You're reading this and thinking, "yes, but...." because you already have a long to-do list tee'd up for 2024. There is a solution to this. Create an IT project plan to optimize your operations. Add it to your IT project list, prioritize the tasks within the project as you would any other organizational project. Add it to your project reporting process. Report out on your project, both to your IT teams and to your senior leadership teams. Make it official to make it stick.

Decide What to Work On

If you're not sure where to start, start by making an inventory of every element in IT. If you need some ideas or guidance on this, pick up a copy of my latest book, Renovating Healthcare IT - Building the Foundation for Digital Transformation. In it, you'll find a comprehensive set of elements for an IT optimization plan along with methods to inventory and assess current state.

Once you determine your current state, you can take a look at the other projects on your plate this year and determine where you'd gain the most ground through an IT renovation project. For example, maybe you have several project coming on line this year that leverage new cloud solutions. Perhaps your first step would be to assess you team's skills in this technology and get training underway now while you create new career path roadmaps for key positions. Write new job descriptions that reflect future state, get the compensation reviewed by an expert firm and ensure your compensation is competitive and aligned with the new duties.

Or perhaps you see a new cloud initiative coming that you can piggyback on and migrate some of your remaining on-premise infrastructure onto. Create the plan now so you're ready to leverage the opportunity when that new project fires up.

There are a myriad of ways you can improve your IT infrastructure - people, processes, and technology - all while working on new projects. In fact, if you don't, you will reach a point in the not too distant future where you will lack the IT capabilities required by the organization to support and sustain the projects you're working on for operations.

Reserve Ten Percent of Your Capacity

Reserve at least ten percent of your departmental capacity for this important operational work. Prioritize it as you would any other project and ferociously protect the project work from the emergency-of-the-week. There may be times you need to pause or flex, but if you don't fight for the time and resources to improve the IT function, no one will. And, without a strong, capable, and resilient IT function, no healthcare organization will survive long-term.

Check out my latest book, Renovating Healthcare IT and feel free to reach out if you have questions.


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