When managing an integration project for healthcare IT (or otherwise), you’re essentially serving as the glue that holds everything together. You’re responsible for client satisfaction and communication, corralling project resources -- including vendors, contractors, developers, and more -- and keeping an eye on both the scope and the budget the ensure no unpleasant surprises upon delivery (or as a barrier to, in some cases). Best practices for project management can somewhat vary by industry, but there are a few key tips for healthcare IT integration efforts that can help a PM stand out from the crowd and encourage future SOWs from a given client.
Let’s dive into a few key areas where integration project managers can optimize and impress even the most challenging health system sponsors.
Tip #1: Communicate With Transparency and Integrity
I almost called this first tip Communicate Until You’re Blue In The Face, but that is frankly bad advice. If you’re sending novel-long emails every other day, that really has no correlation with efficiency nor strong leadership. It simple means you’re verbose. (Pro Tip: No one is reading more than a few paragraphs. Max.) What you want to focus on when it comes to communication as an integration project manager is transparency and integrity.
What does that mean exactly? Glad you asked…
Leading With Transparency In Communication
While we’re not advocating that you abandon loyalty to the company signing your paycheck, it’s important to position yourself as a project manager as an advocate for the client. You’re their checkpoint, their gatekeeper, their BFF in this process because you can help them navigate every aspect of the project, even if just to direct to the appropriate resource.
Transparency in this role means that you’re not sugar coating progress, and you’re not unwilling to raise concerns when progress is halting or resources are failing to show. This is especially important if vendors involved in various ends of the integration efforts aren’t giving the technical team the documentation, response, or even resources needed to build a functioning system. No need to throw folks under the bus -- as that signals an unsavory leadership style in and of itself -- but know when you need to have a Come to Jesus for the sake of scope and timeline. Your client will appreciate your willingness to be the bearer of bad news when necessary, and your team will see firsthand that you’re stepping up to the plate to keep their runway clear.
Leading With Integrity In Communication
Speaking of the importance of your speech, integrity is everything. When you say something (be it in person or virtually), follow through. If you say you’ll get an update by EOD, get an update by EOD. Even if you’re still waiting on information, make that known and don’t drop the ball. This will go a long way in instilling confidence (especially with new clients or those who are coming to the project with baggage from prior projects/vendors) and encouraging this type of follow through from the entire team.
This is also a great way to set the expectation for your whole team, demonstrating that commitments matter and you’re not going to let critical tasks slide or be deprioritized. Scope is your compass, and this is how you establish True North.
Tip #2: Don’t Just Identify Risks -- Mitigate Them
A seasoned IT project manager can spot a risk from a mile away. They see the early tell-tale signs of a lazy vendor or an over-scheduled resource, and they don’t simply make a mental note. Impressive project management for integration means bringing to light those risks before they bite your team in the tail. Be frank but graceful, and cultivate an environment where everyone thrives. This is the difference between acting like a drill instructor or a wimp (as ineffective extremes) versus a confident champion who wants the project to succeed...included everyone on it.
Delegation As The Key To Proper PM Focus
A big piece of this step is delegating properly. It is nearly impossible to stay on alert for looming risks if you’re drowning in meetings and chasing down your team. Set the expectation early on that you trust your team to do what they’ve been tasked to do, and when they say, “Yes” to an ask (especially from a client), it needs to happen. You’re, of course, there to run interference as needed when variables preclude delivering on that Yes, but you can’t babysit from the watchtower. Rally your team accordingly, and stay laser focused on where you’re most strategically contributing to the success of the IT project...including risk mitigation.
Tip #3: Let Your Documentation Speak Volumes
We’re definitely honing in on a theme of communication here, and it’s no accident. The best health IT project managers are faithful to their word and broker information with ease. An extension of this is documentation for the project.
- Budget and SOW Tracking
- JIRA/Project Plan
- Meeting Notes
- Product/Project Requirements
When you’re nailing this aspect of PM work, your notes and documentation will basically speak for themselves. They leave little room for question, folks absent from a given meeting will still feel in the loop, and you save your brain the impossible task of recalling every single detail as you multitask (often between several projects at once). There’s no pride lost in making lists and putting to paper (or the e-version of this action) project-relevant information. This is a critical piece of our jobs at integration project managers, and yet another area where you can really shine for a client, as well as your own team.