On-screen garbage: a cautionary tale — part 2 of 3
In last week’s post, Enterprise Health president, Jeff Donnell, and CTO, Dave Juntgen, shared their experiences from a site visit with a new client who is replacing a legacy system. This week, we’ll shed light on how to face some of the challenges that come with transitioning to a new occupational health IT solution.
You’re aware of your predicament. Your company purchased an occupational health IT system that didn’t live up to its promises. Maybe you’re angry, because you feel like you’re stuck with a solution someone else selected long ago. Understandable.
Unfortunately, in this situation, too many organizations and their occupational health and safety teams go silent. They create a culture of accommodation around the poor functionality of their occ health solution — which is ironic, since these same people are often responsible for managing work accommodations — and tread through obvious dysfunction for years, because “divorce” is too painful (or so they think).
Moving on from a flawed occupational health IT system — and the broken relationship surrounding it — to the right occupational health IT solution can be transformational. Even evolutionary. We have found that following five key considerations will help you get where you want to be.
1. Recognize your situation — You’re in a spot that’s not working. Be open about it.
When companies make the decision to leave their current occupational health IT solution, it’s often because something isn’t working. More often than not, it’s because their occ health IT provider has failed them from a client support perspective. The software simply won’t deliver what they need, the provider says the software is what it is, and that’s that.
If you’re tethered to a vendor — and a system — who leaves you hanging in any way, and your organization is wasting time, money, energy, sanity, or brainpower trying to make up for shortcomings, admit it. Start conversations about other options — and hold on loosely. The workflows and workarounds you have become used to may, in fact, be symptomatic of a larger issue.
2. Align top to bottom — Talk with your users. Get to know their frustrations. Share yours.
Have meaningful discussions with your day-to-day users. For that matter, be open to hearing from everyone who either uses or has exposure to your current occ health software (your employees, for example).
Understanding the situation top to bottom is key to developing a plan for replacing it, because people in different roles are probably unhappy for different reasons. The people who work with your insufficient system today are the same ones who had to come up with workarounds and fixes to make up for its shortcomings. Find out what their pain points are, and that can help inform your search for a replacement solution.
Besides, replacing a system before you achieve alignment puts you at risk for a repeat performance.
3. Document your objectives — Define what success looks like for your organization.
This is where you step back, hit the reset button, and remember you know how your operation should function. That “culture of accommodation” can haunt you thanks to the vendor who sweet talked you into a solution that fell way short. (Or went “splat!”)
Instead of progress and efficiency, their experience was the opposite. More effort, more frustration, more time — no payoff. Case in point: If it takes 12 clicks to print a health surveillance encounter, you have a problem. Actually, if you’re printing a health surveillance encounter, you have an even larger problem. But this client had become used to this sort of thing, and it was easier for them to normalize the laborious workflows associated with sub-par functionality than to try to get any resolution from their vendor.
We offered them the same direction we’re sharing here:
Put your objectives on paper and document what success looks like. A worthy HIT partner will use this “come to center” document as a starting point for getting you back where you need to be.
4. Recognize the “The Valley of Despair” — You will go through it.
It’s not as foreboding as it sounds. But it is very real. In this case, “The Valley of Despair” refers to the period of time between implementation and “go live” where productivity decreases as old habits are unlearned and new, better ones are formed.
What’s more, moving from “go live” to “go forward” brings yet another challenge, because this is where the real adjustment begins.
Any time you shift from what employees know (even if it’s what you want to leave behind) to your desired outcome, frustration will rear its ugly head. This will be temporarily uncomfortable, but fight the urge to throw in the towel and live with your unacceptable status quo.
A solid partner will come equipped with a plan, a training program, and the support you’ve been lacking. They will walk shoulder-to-shoulder with you to make sure you don’t fall into any traps. And if you trip along the way, they’ll help you up and push you to stay determined as you climb toward success.
Prepare, plan — and keep one eye on the path and the other on the destination.
5. Communicate relentlessly — About everything. No matter what. If you don’t, you will hit boulders in the road.
Are you starting to see a theme? A good relationship in the world of occupational health solutions is akin to a good marriage. And what do most happy couples say the reason for their blissful union is? Communication. Same is true with any upstanding partnership.
Communication is key. But while it’s easy to say, it’s hard to do over time. Best practices for achieving it include:
Set expectations up front — Be clear on what your goal is and even clearer with how you describe it to your vendor of choice.
Document, document, document — Talking about your goal is great, but documenting it will solidify your intent to achieve it.
Speak often, especially when the road is difficult — Like a good marriage, a successful vendor relationship will weather the storm of hardship if you treat it with respect and stay true to your shared vision.
Have a plan for tracking, controlling, and communicating progress — In our experience, leveraging a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) is a best practice.
Celebrate milestone achievements with your partner, even if they’re small — Let’s face it, change is hard. If it weren’t, everyone would be doing it. That being said, take a moment to acknowledge your achievements along this path. It will drastically improve your view.
People often say success is defined by the journey and not the destination. We agree. But when you finally arrive at the place you want to be, you’ll wonder why you didn’t go sooner.