Healthcare IT Blog

Keys to Managing a Successful Project

Published on 01/29/2014 by Donna Dean
Category: Healthcare IT, Project Management

I was a little nervous to write my first-ever blog.  I don’t spend a lot of time on social media and what insight would I have to offer to my high tech peers and colleagues?  But then I thought, Project Management doesn’t have any specific boundaries and is an important skill set across all industries and job roles.   In this article, I’ve outlined some tips and tricks to help you successfully manage your IT projects.

I am a certified Project Manager working on the PPI Infrastructure Team.  And what exactly does that mean?  Some would say it is the ‘glorified babysitter’ for the project, others would say ‘it’s the one butt to kick’ if things go wrong.  I describe it as making ‘order out of the chaos’ and ensuring everyone works together in lock step to achieve our common goal – to get MEDITECH running on the new hardware as soon as possible with minimal disruption to the doctors and nurses providing patient care.  (If you have visited a hospital lately either as a patient or advocate for a family member you know how critical it is to keep all systems running so doctors and nurses can do their jobs.)

I like to start a project by laying the foundation for success:

  • Identify the project scope in clear terms so our customers know what the end result will be and our engineers know what it is they need to do.
  • Identify all the infrastructure requirements so our customers know what they need to have in place to allow our engineers to hit the ground running when it is time for them to begin their installation.
  • Lay out the project plan in a format that is easy for our customers to follow.  Identify what needs to be done in the near term as well as further out on the horizon and who is responsible for doing it.

It requires a lot of work to get a project off the ground but the time invested in planning always pays off.  And once the project is underway the Project Manager is responsible for the continual care and feeding of it.

  • Be proactive – Watch for roadblocks and get them out of the way early.
  • Maintain a list of open action items and update it regularly.
  • Communicate early and often with your team.
  • Be organized.
  • Maintain a sense of humor – you’ll need it!

The Project Manager must be methodical in tracking the project details, documenting them in a single location, and making sure everyone knows where to find the information they need.  This can be a Microsoft Project Plan, an Excel Workbook, or a ‘wizzy’ online tool.  It doesn’t matter as long as team members have access to the plan and know how to use it.  It’s also important to keep good notes for the long term.  As memories fade and issues come up, this project tracking tool will hold a wealth of information for those who need to know what was done in the past.  (Anyone who has been stuck trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together after the fact knows how important historical information is to solving future problems.)

An important tool for keeping everyone on the same page is the conference call.  Everyone’s busy and it’s hard to get all the team members in the same place at the same time but it’s important that the team meet regularly to review what we have accomplished, what’s coming next, and preparing for the longer term milestones.  I like to schedule weekly status calls.  Although we can’t all be in the same room together, an old fashioned conference call can be a powerful tool to keep everyone on track.  I send out a detailed agenda prior to each call (no surprises on who’s going to be called on to report on status of an action item) and then I follow up each call with meeting notes, an updated plan, and a list of new action items.

It’s not high tech but it works.  I have delivered many successful MEDITECH infrastructure projects.  Not all of them were without bumps in the road but if I’m paying attention they are only small speed bumps, not a brick wall that causes the project to come to a screeching halt.

Donna Dean has 8 years of experience managing MEDITECH infrastructure projects. In her role at Park Place, Donna is responsible for working with customers to ensure their datacenters are ready for the new hardware, coordinating project schedules to meet MEDITECH software delivery timelines, overseeing the engineers assigned to the project, and engaging 3rd party vendors as needed.

Donna is a certified Project Management Professional  (PMP) through the Project Management Institute (PMI) since 2004 and has successfully managed more than 200 MEDITECH implementations.