How to Plan for a Successful Go Live
After many months of hard work, you turn on your new system. All goes well—patient care picks up where it left off, new registrations start flowing, bills drop, meds are charted, and you find yourself standing amidst a large group of happy colleagues. It’s the dream of every project manager. Unfortunately, on the flip side, if things don’t go so well, you may find yourself standing alone. While it may not have been your decision alone to go live, it may seem like it’s your sole responsibility, especially if you failed to implement a formal Go/No-Go meeting.
EMR projects are group efforts. They don’t belong to any one person alone, whether an IT lead or the project manager in charge. The success belongs to everyone—each department, each liaison, each analyst, each vendor rep, each director. If everyone is willing to share in the success, they must also all be willing to share in the responsibility of a no-go. We frequently see a team divided at the first sign of a post-activation problem. It doesn’t have to be that way—provided you implement a good Project Readiness Signoff document from the very beginning.
The Two Most Critical Meetings for a “Go”
One of the first things you can do is set the expectation that all essential team members will take part in the Go/No-Go meetings. Prepare a project readiness document that involves all teams, then immediately schedule two meetings. The first—a mock signing one week prior to the onset of training—is very important. It is critical that everyone listed on the project readiness document should attend this first meeting. The question to ask at that mock signing is, “If this were the day for signing, would you be ready? If not, what do you need in order to be ready in six weeks?” This gives the PM a clear understanding of everyone’s comfort level. It allows the PM to focus on any troubled areas so the real Go/No-Go meeting can take place without a problem. Should you uncover a serious issue at the mock signing, you have the option to cancel the expensive effort of training before it begins. The second meeting will be approximately one week prior to the go-live. If everyone took the mock meeting seriously, this meeting should go smoothly. The Go/No-Go signing should be a literal passing off of the signoff document around the room. Everyone should have the chance to sign among their colleagues.
The second meeting will be approximately one week prior to go-live. If everyone took the mock meeting seriously, this meeting should go smoothly. The Go / No-Go signing should be a literal passing of the signoff document around the room. Everyone should have the chance to sign among their colleagues.
Three Major Steps for a Successful Go/No-Go Meeting
- – Make sure the right people sign off. You must have the appropriate people at the table sign their respective sections. An IT member should not sign off for any department—only the Department Liaison and/or Director should.
- – Take record of key details regarding signoff. The document must address each signoff area very thoroughly and clearly. Don’t simply state that “Pharmacy is ready for activation.” Instead, word the statement, “Pharmacy has been thoroughly involved in all decisions made, validated that the compendium is built properly, all meds have been tested and can generate charges, pass to charting, and cross the interface. Pharmacy agrees that the system is ready for activation; all Pharmacy personnel are familiar with the system and deem it safe for use.”
- – Involve all appropriate personnel during signoff. Include all appropriate personnel of the project (your extended project team, if you will) in the signoff process—those in charge of each involved department, the interface and conversion leader, equipment manager, help desk supervisor, training leader, activation planning crew, finance, etc.
The Value Behind Proper Planning
When your extended team signs off and provides their blessing to proceed toward activation, they take ownership in the outcome. Now, in the event that something goes wrong, the “team” is more likely to stay together and fix the problem collaboratively, rather than point blame at any one person.
The final benefit to having a quality signoff is that each person, knowing they are expected to sign, will put a little more priority on a review of the system prior to go-live. They become accountable. That extra little bit of validation and responsibility may help you uncover any remaining bugs before activation.
If you would like to discuss your Go / No-Go meeting, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be happy to share samples of material we use and discuss other challenges you will face during this critical time.