It's all in the planning... what really makes health projects succeed
Recent reports about the challenges of the Addenbrooke's IT migration highlighted yet again the crucial importance of comprehensive planning for safe service migration on complex IT and service changes.
Too often the focus is all about whatever is seen as the key driver: the commercial deal, the year on year savings, the innovation, the new management etc.
Those benefits however, can easily be undermined or overshadowed by insufficient planning or heroic assumptions about service transition timetables, dependencies and mobilisation; especially if new technology and working practices are required.
What is unique about the NHS is that we seem to try to concentrate all these service changes into the period leading up to April in each year. This compounds the challenges of safe service migration because the whole system is working flat out and skilled resources are even scarcer than usual.
On top of this, senior management, who should be helping deliver new service arrangements, is preoccupied by increasingly extreme financial year end pressures.
What can we do about it? Well two ideas could be considered:
- Firstly, by advanced planning you can move contract end dates to a different time in the year say October, which would ease those time and resource pressures. A simple solution, but one so often overlooked
- Secondly, take the testing of mobilisation / service migration and transition more seriously in planning assessing and procuring new services
Yes the deal has to be right, but safe on-time effective service migration is a close second and one has to be conscious that for patients, service continuity is usually their main concern. Whilst there is so much debate about the effectiveness of procurement and a huge focus on new service models, it is essential that whatever new models are, they are implemented seamlessly, otherwise all the hard work can be seriously jeopardised.
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