Keys to success: ERP preflight checklist

ERP processes and systems need to be agile enough to support high-quality, affordable care in this new era of healthcare delivery.
4 minutes

For healthcare organizations that are ready to select and implement a cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform, knowing where to start is key. Prior to engaging an ERP vendor or implementation partner, taking the following actions and making vital preflight decisions can help lay the foundation for a successful journey while avoiding the common pitfalls. 

  • Assess where you are today.
  • Establish organizational objectives and strategy.
  • Create a compelling business case.  
  • Build a realistic roadmap.  
  • Invest the time to pick the right partners. 

Assess where you are today

A gap analysis is the right place to start. Your analysis should include these vital elements: 

  • The state of your supply chain, finance, and human capital management (HCM) system portfolio, along with related niche application systems.
  • The state of your system interoperability. (Do you have the pieces needed to achieve end-to-end visibility and overall data management, including integration with clinical processes?)
  • Your maturity level in process standardization and agility to meet the changing business dynamics across supply chain, finance, and HCM—especially in comparison to industry peers and industry best practices.
  • Your level of process automation, workflow design, and readiness for change.
  • Your internal change management capabilities to reinforce the change.
  • The stability, scalability, and reliability of your enterprise architecture.
  • The effectiveness of your governance model (before, during, and after the transition).
  • The strength of your ERP workforce skill sets, staff development program, and support plans for operations and IT.
  • The state of data and analytics architecture and tools to support data-driven decision-making. 

Establish organizational objectives and strategy 

Once you’ve established your starting point, define your end game: Where do you want to go, and what do you want to achieve? Identifying business goals, strategies, and corresponding high-priority initiatives will provide clarity on the gaps you need to close to achieve the goals you’d like to attain. 

  • Identify operational and financial improvement opportunities at the outset.
  • Align ERP efforts with targeted savings to drive greater focus, speed, and certainty of outcomes.
  • Envision how people’s roles would be structured—how people will work and how the organization will operate.
  • Determine how new vendor functionalities and tools (e.g., artificial intelligence, workforce management, talent science, and EHR interoperability) can enable innovation and efficiencies in the new environment.
  • Elevate the conversation across the organization to galvanize the effort. Consider conducting visioning sessions to review and gain agreement on future direction, and to develop and validate ERP opportunities, scenarios, and priorities. 

Create a compelling business case

Based on your objectives, strategy, and future state, create a compelling business case with measurable return on investment (ROI): 

  • Use a benefits-driven approach to measure expected business and performance improvement objectives against capital and operational costs over time to determine ROI.
  • Focus on a short list of key strategic benefits, and set realistic goals, factoring in a feasible pace of change for the organization. Benefits can include application consolidation, process automation, systems optimization, improved employee retention, productivity improvements, and supplier transaction metrics, to name a few.
  • Establish clear key performance indicators (KPIs) with named benefit owners to ensure accountability for measuring and achieving progress. 

Build a realistic roadmap with the change management competencies required for success 

Develop a plan that will guide the organization toward strategic and operational success. The difference between success and failure is determining the right balance of transformation with progress that will accelerate efforts and quickly get to the target benefits most essential for your organization. 

  • Calculate the risk and determine the total cost of ownership (TCO).
  • Plan out the timeline, phasing, and staff expectations for the key initiatives. Prioritize the implementation around the areas that will move the needle the most, and consider a streamlined timeframe to lock in key gains within a year, with an optimization effort to follow.
  • Define enhancements to the ERP operating models, organizational structure, and governance decision-making processes.
  • Develop a change management plan that includes all levels to achieve the buy-in necessary to foster functional changes and overall business support of the new technology and workflows. Hard decisions will need to be made in order to weed out old processes and habits and change the way teams work. 

Invest the time to pick the right partners

New technologies with functional appeal are emerging all the time. It’s important to choose a system and partners that align with the organizational culture and goals for the new platform. The system also needs to scale and adapt to meet subtle shifts in strategic direction and economic conditions without compromising the integrity of the transformation strategy.

First assess where you are today, establish your priorities, and develop a business case and realistic roadmap. Next, be sure to invest the time in determining the right mix of advisory, software, and implementation partners that can help you accomplish your goals expediently and efficiently.

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