There is a lot of conversation about optimization and performance improvement, everyone recognizing that these are two good focal points in a time of tight budgets. Efforts in either optimization or PI are generally aimed at seeking reduced expense or improved efficiency. There is likely no greater return on your time and money than improving your utilization of things you’ve already invested in.
The tendency is to implement a new system and, once it is relatively stable, move on to the next project. This is entirely subjective, but I would estimate that most well executed go-lives result in plus or minus 60 percent utilization of the capabilities of the product. Given the cost and resource demands of HIT systems today, particularly analytics and major modules such as imaging, that leaves a lot of underutilized functionality that you are paying for but getting no benefit from.
Plan of Attack
Start with a needs assessment. This should include all needs, not just the unmet ones. Collect a listing of all hardware and software. Use your maintenance contracts as a means to identify them all. Align the needs assessment with the systems.
Minimize the number of products in the portfolio. Find duplicate functionality and consolidate that function onto one platform (document imaging is often an opportunity). This will likely reduce your maintenance expense and improve your ability to provide support since your resources will not be spread across as many products.
Expand capabilities that enable change. Many organizations still have workflows that include faxes on every unit. They can typically be replaced with network faxing, something that you probably already have in place.
Look at your project portfolio and see what portion of your resources are dedicated to utility, operations, or frontier. I’ll bet most of your effort is expended on new initiatives. One of the best ways to stem this tide is to institute a strong IT governance program. This will require support at the upper levels of the organization and will result in the return on new ventures being vetted against the benefits of extracting more from existing platforms. A reduction in the flood of new requests will let you zero in on maximizing previous investments.
Explore reporting and dashboards and other means of getting information into people’s hands without forcing them to make a service request. Institute self-service where possible. These measures will help IT and the business units be more efficient and productive.
Assess modules and features that have been purchased but not implemented. Maintenance agreements are good places to look for things you are paying but are not using.
For most customers, the answer to every problem is to buy a new system. When addressing new needs, always be sure to look to already-owned products first. Often buying a new module is cheaper than a whole new product, and it’s easier to support.
Make optimization and PI part of your DNA. You might not go as far as having a full-time person dedicated to it, but optimization needs to hard-wired into your culture. Provide incentives to employees who exemplify the behavior. Make it a standing talking point in your department meetings.
Engage the business units in the process. After all, they are the ones who benefit from it most. As you continually improve things for them, they will increasingly come to you with ideas rather than waiting for you to seek them out.
This is by no means an exhaustive discussion. I rarely look for opportunities for optimization or PI and come up empty. Always be vigilant in seeking them out. In my opinion, there is no better way to provide value to your organization.