Situation

This national health care organisation provides home health services to its customers for therapy, nursing and personal services out of 45 sites across Canada. The sites were using a mixture of manual and two COTS applications to support managing requests, resources, scheduling, tracking and billing for the home health services. An application system had been created in-house to replace the current applications. It was developed from a clinician system application that the client had been using successfully for many years.

A pilot roll out of the initial version of the application system had recently been completed. The client’s approach was to update the system to handle any site specific requirements not covered in the base system and to migrate the sites to the new system. The roll out program covered defining the site-specific requirements, updating the system code to meet the requirements, cleaning up and migrating the existing data into the system database, and preparing the site staff for the implementation, including readiness adoption and training programs.

The program was more complex and challenging than had been anticipated, and was experiencing delays and some frustrations. Updates to the application were causing some unexpected side effects and the migration process modules were more difficult to develop than expected.

 

Requirement

Schroeder and Schroeder was engaged to strengthen program coordination and communications activities. The Programme Manager focus was on facilitating and assisting in coordinating program activities.

Specific assigned tasks were to determine and communicate the status, progress and issues of the in-flight site roll out, and to start planning the next 4-5 roll outs and then the full roll out to the remaining sites in the following year.

 

Challenges

The challenges we faced in conducting this project related to:

  • Defining the PM function: the role, accountabilities and authorities and a project charter were not prepared or documented in advance. Suggestions for their content were not agreed upon.
  • Establishing executive governance and decision making.
  • Getting project staff to participate, take action and provide information. There was no direct reporting structure.
  • The focus was fully on the immediate site roll out and not on medium and long term planning.
  • The project participating groups were not formally coordinating their tasks. Each group was working on their own processes and there was only ad hoc as required meetings.
  • Balancing time and effort between helping with the immediate roll out and moving forward with the planning. The consultant was then also asked to chair the weekly site implementation check-in meeting.
  • Project management frameworks or standards were not in place. There was an ongoing initiative to create these. Some status reporting documents were being created, but these were not followed across department boundaries.
  • Interpersonal clashes, conflicts at several organizational levels.
  • Limited PM tools available (MS Project, Visio, Collaboration)

 

Actions

  • Facilitated several ad hoc meetings with project group leads to discuss roll out status and schedules. Encouraged the leads to keep in communication with each other re: the initial roll out.
  • Took over and led the in-flight Sheppard site check in meetings, including creating new agenda, action Items log and meeting results document.
  • Coordinated the collection of weekly status reports from the leads, and prepared an overall status summary report from them.
  • Created a new format for status reporting. Designed a new snapshot status report for IT Dev status.
  • Prepared a high level vision of the site roll outs for 2018 and fro 2019. Identified project streams and activities required.
  • Facilitated several workshops to determine the roll out issues and the opportunities, including reducing the per site duration from +4 months to 9-10 week and how to handle concurrent roll outs.
  • Prepared log templates for project issues, risks and decisions and populated the issues and risks logs.
  • Proposed a governance framework for the program.

 

The Art and Science Difference

The project involved major challenges over and above the technical aspects of system development, which required a delicate balance of art and science skills. We needed and were committed to:

  • Establishing trust and confidence in the PM and the PM role. This was designed to open up channels of communication and understanding. It also enabled a PM leadership role.
  • Developing an integrated team of leads, going through the form, storm, norm and perform phases to create an effective working unit.
  • Encouraged client staff to embrace a project-oriented framework and culture, with a focus on deliverables, estimates and quality.
  • Had leads looking at the future vision and the roll out opportunities and strategies.

 

Results

At the conclusion of the project, there was movement and momentum towards the goals.