3 Quick Tips to Smoother Software Implementation

Over the last 3 years, I’ve helped new HealthEdge clients implement our software. During that time, I’ve learned countless tips and tricks to improve the implementation experience.

There’s the technical software implementation, but today we’ll be looking at the people side of implementation. The team members who will be sunsetting the old software, implementing the new software, and linking it into the ecosystem.

These are my top 3 tips for a smoother software implementation:

1. Create a shared vision of the future

Even with the best possible outcome – change is hard. The people on your team are grappling with all the balls they’re currently juggling plus trying to learn this new system and get it plugged into your ecosystem. It’s natural to resist change and cling to the status quo.

The key is to create a vision of the future that’s so exciting and engaging your team can’t help but get pulled into the possibility of this amazing future state. Make the vision so compelling your team can’t help but be intrigued by the new software – even with the imminent growing pains.

For example, a health plan that implemented our product Source, achieved an amazing ROI after implementation:

  • Decrease of 800,000 erroneous claims per year for an estimated savings of $4M/year
  • Automated claims process saving approximately $6-12 per claim
  • Reduced IT overhead, saving $350-500K annually

By getting your team excited about the possibilities and demonstrating how amazing the future can be AFTER the change, you get them engaged at the onset of the implementation.

2. Begin with the end in mind: workflow & operating procedures

It’s so easy to take a new piece of software and try to adapt it to the old way of doing things. This leads to recreating old systems, riddled with workarounds, and partial functionality. It’s a surefire way to get your team feeling frustrated and disappointed with the new software.

One of the things we focus on in HealthEdge’s Education Services is analyzing business scenarios. And then, we optimize workflow and operating procedures for those scenarios.

Encourage blank space, white board thinking – how can we leverage this innovative technology to optimize and enhance our way of work?

3. Customize training and onboarding

Each of our customers has a different business need for their implementation, and their team members have different roles and responsibilities. Custom instruction that is tailored to your needs is vital to engaging your team because each person who will be interacting with the new software wants to know, What’s in it for me? What do I need to know to be able to do my job well in this new environment? We don’t want to bore experienced analysts or overwhelm team members with less experience.

Unsurprisingly, the confidence gap is a huge barrier to software acceptance. Providing customized training and onboarding helps employees feel confident using the new software. There’s a direct correlation between new software training and new software optimization and acceptance.

HealthEdge Education Services

HealthEdge has a team dedicated to education and implementation success. I’m proud to be a part of our Education Services and help our new customers successfully implement our suite of products. Learn more about our Implementation Services here.

Want to Transform? Start with People, Process and Technology

When it comes to business transformation, the biggest roadblock is often resistance to change.

In a former role, prior to working at HealthEdge, I was among 30 consultants hired to tackle a company’s backlog of work. The client did not ask about our individual experience that they could tap into or recommendations for improving the process. The project was incredibly inefficient. We all had different skills and knowledge to help move their project along faster, but we faced resistance. The client wanted to keep the process as it was, having all 30 consultants working on the exact same tasks.

It was clear that everyone was working at different speeds. Some people were fast but had a few errors, while others were slower yet analytical. I recommended that we push to have a tiered system― the tier 1 people would quickly work through the backlog, tier 2 people audit the work, catch any mistakes, and tier 3 people focus on any complex issues that arose. Leveraging our talent in a different capacity, this process would allow our team to meet the production schedule, reduce errors and ultimately boost morale.

I finally convinced the client to let us try something new. We assigned people to the tiers where they would perform best and set up a model so that the process wouldn’t get caught in a bottleneck. As a result, we took care of the backlog that had been accumulating for months in less than 30 days.

With a fresh perspective, we implemented a new process that capitalized on the strengths and expertise of our people and allowed the company to transform and gain productivity moving forward.

That’s just one example; not every project is the same. To transform your business, it’s always key to revisit and improve processes, leverage the vast experiences of your people and find the right technology partner.

When it comes to software, it’s important for the company’s technical side and business side to work together and collaborate. When IT and business join forces, they can achieve so much more and faster.

Smooth Implementations Require Collaboration

A health plan’s internal culture can make or break an implementation.

As a business consultant, I have worked on several different implementations throughout my career. Every internal culture is so vastly different from one project to the next.

My role requires me to ask the right questions to understand the company culture and quickly adapt to ensure a successful implementation. Whether a customer is switching to an entirely new system or performing an upgrade, the project will shift how the company operates to some degree.

When it comes to change, there will always be natural pushback, so it is an important step at the beginning of the project to understand why there may be hesitancy. Some clients are ecstatic; they’re ready for a better solution that will take care of the pain points they’re experiencing. On the other hand, some people are comfortable with their routine and not ready to change from the status quo.

In a recent Accenture Research global survey of business and IT leaders worldwide, 77% of executives said that their technology architecture is becoming critical to the organization’s overall success.

When it comes to significant initiatives to transform a health plan’s business, like a system migration, it requires buy-in from the executive level down to the teammates who will work on the new platform. Without buy-in and collaboration, the implementation process is always much more challenging.

I understand when plans are mindful of time and resources and say, for example, “I don’t think we need a technical person to join this part of the process.” However, if a project is understaffed from the onset, customers will spend more time and resources doing catch-up. Ramping down is always easier than ramping up mid-project. The entire process goes much smoother someone at the table can quickly solve an issue or answer a question to keep the project moving forward. Otherwise, clients will spend valuable time scrambling to find the right people and getting them up to speed.

The most successful projects I’ve worked on are those where the team includes expertise from all facets of the project. When health plans have everyone aligned―project managers, account executives, consultants, financial analysts, IT, etc.―from the beginning, they will achieve the best result.

Sharing Experiences, Recognizing Unique Perspectives, Building a More Inclusive Workplace

Sometimes, issues people face might not even cross someone’s mind until they are in the same situation and feel the impact. It’s helpful to have ongoing conversations to share our experiences, and in turn, recognize someone else’s experiences. Even if their reality is not your reality, it’s essential to come from a place of understanding. Recognizing that everyone has a unique perspective is when real change will happen.

George Floyd’s murder last summer was a catalyst for change across the country, including HealthEdge. Our Human Resources team initiated individual and group conversations with the African American employees to share our experiences, feelings, and how the company could do better. These were raw conversations. Everyone listened. Similar to what was happening across the country, these conversations led to a broader, thoughtful dialogue that could focus on how a company can influence societal change.

We needed a safe forum to create more conversations about diversity and inclusion and sharing our experiences. It was clear that the HealthEdge leadership cared and did not want diversity and inclusion to just be a moment or hot topic. They were invested in taking steps to make a change and do it the right way.

HealthEdge signed the Mass TLC Compact for Social Justice aimed at increasing diversity programming and training, self-reporting demographic information, and expanding their talent acquisition pipeline resulting in more diverse hires.

After a few meetings, we decided to add more structure to these discussions and open them up to everyone. This sparked the idea for IBelongHE, an internal group that has regular, open conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion. I serve as the employee champion of IBelongHE to ensure our employees feel heard and have a voice in charting our path forward to real change.

We’re making progress with the monthly IBelongHE meetings and recently launched a speaker series bringing in outside experts to guide our company in tackling such topics as unconscious bias that help us think of others’ perspectives and experiences.

Our work is not yet done.  The first step is acknowledgement followed by making a plan to do better. We’re best served by being thoughtful and purposeful in what we’re doing. We will continue to have conversations, learn from each other, and move toward being a more diverse and inclusive workplace.