Life in the Fast Lane
Nowadays, it’s hard to find anyone who’s not multi-tasking or has a few minutes to spare. Life is passing by at warp speed both at work and at home. I am constantly asking myself: ”where did the time go?” As a Project Manager working in Healthcare IT, I need to be cognizant that my customer’s time is at a premium and take this into account when leading large infrastructure refresh projects for busy hospitals. It helps to have lots of experience under my belt in traversing this speedway.
· Set Expectations Early:
o Review the project deliverables with the team at the start of the project. This includes what’s in scope and what’s out of scope. It’s also good to review the existing environment; often times those involved in project execution are not the same folks involved in scoping out the project. Try to vet any unexpected additions to the project so they can be planned for early.
· Identify the Project Course and Provide a Roadmap:
o Put together a project plan using a tool everyone is comfortable with and can access. Team members may not always read the plan but the information is available if they want it or need it.
o Put as much detail as possible into the plan (project tasks, owners, and timeline for completion). It helps me to steer the project and keep everyone on track. As we drill into project tasks and more details become available, I add them to the plan. At the end of the road, this becomes a great historical tool for looking back on work accomplished and who participated in the work. The plan should be archived for future reference.
o Solid plans based on experience give the entire team confidence that they will arrive at their destination on time and intact.
· Plan for Detours Along the Way:
o We all know that change is inevitable and life is what happens when we are busy making plans. If a change is required to the plan, document the change (including impact to scope, schedule, and budget), and get sign off from all required parties. A formal process for change helps to minimize scope creep which in turn can help prevent the project from coming off the rails.
· Identify What’s On the Horizon:
o Executives and senior project stakeholders don’t always care about the implementation details. They just want to know that the project is on track and here’s what’s coming next.
o During every status call I review the next set of milestones the team is working towards. As the landscape of the project changes I try to paint the picture of what lies ahead. This helps customers plan their day to day workloads along with the project tasks as very few team members have the luxury of only focusing on one thing….and most people don’t like work related surprises.
o This is also a great way to gauge if it’s ok to continue at our high rate of speed or if we need to step on the brakes for a bit.
· Anticipate the Next Speed Bump:
o The road is never smooth and no matter how good a plan is, there will be speed bumps or possibly road blocks along the way. Always keep your eyes on the road so you can anticipate these and plan for them in advance. Having a good relationship with your customers, vendor partners, and own team members helps a good Project Manager to feel the undercurrent and decipher road noise from engine trouble.
· Call in the Experts for Breakdowns:
o It’s helpful to have a team with depth. When dealing with new technology, there’s a likelihood that questions will arise requiring additional expertise. An experienced team and a seasoned Project Manager will know where to turn to for answers.
· Estimate Time of Arrival:
o ‘Are we there yet?’ should not be a question the team has to ask the Project Manager. A good plan clearly identifies the key deliverable milestones and helps everyone to keep marching toward the end goal and final destination.
· Deliver the Goods:
o Although arriving at the destination on time, within scope, and within budget is the ultimate goal, it is also important to tie up all the loose ends before everyone jumps off the bus. Schedule a project close out call with key team members to confirm all the deliverables have been met and/or come up with an action plan for any lingering tasks.
o Deliver the project documentation to the team and provide a knowledge transfer on the new technology and/or infrastructure to those who will be maintaining the systems moving forward.
o Lastly, conduct a “Lessons Learned.” Identify what worked well, what could have been done better, and what pitfalls to avoid the next time you head down this path.
Having an experienced Project Manager in the driver’s seat, in charge and in control, is invaluable.
Donna Dean has 10 years of experience managing MEDITECH infrastructure projects. In her role at CloudWave, 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.