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Evidenced Based Project Management

Implementing software in a healthcare environment is complex. A few months ago, I shared some of the key factors for a successful software implementation. In this blog I will focus on another vitally important ingredient – Project Management.

Project management processes come in many flavours, some that have recent popularity with our customers include PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments), PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge), Waterfall, Agile and Scrum. Each of these processes has strengths and weaknesses. They can also be more applicable to one type of project than another, for example, Agile for software development versus PRINCE2 for a consulting engagement.

Methodologies each have their own features.  For example, Waterfall sets well defined outcomes and pathways for achievement but it can be inflexible and overly rigid if those objectives need to shift. In comparison, Agile allows a great amount of flexibility with shifting outcomes, however, it can easily lead to timeline and cost blowouts with an ever-changing endpoint. At Alcidion we do not strictly use these frameworks, rather, we select the best parts of each and adapt them for our own purposes using our evidence-based project management.

What is evidenced based project management?

In this context, evidenced based project management is not theory built on peer reviewed journals. It is a project methodology built on, and by, the collective knowledge and experience of the Alcidion team of project managers. This process is continuously refined and improved based on evidence that arises from successful approaches and data gathered during and after execution of our projects.

We have an internal monthly Project Management Forum where we discuss methods to optimise our project delivery and ensure that our project managers remain current with our best practice. In essence, we have our own internal peer review system that makes sure our methodology maintains a strong focus on successful delivery and provides a framework to monitor project outcomes. Using this approach, we have been able to refine a methodology that aligns with our customers’ requirements and facilitates optimal delivery.

What is the Alcidion Project Management Methodology?

The Alcidion Project Management Methodology is client-focused, process and outcome oriented, scalable and flexible. We recognise that each project may require our approach to be tailored to consider the customer’s individual environment, preferred project management methodology and specific objectives. It is flexible enough to be used on consulting projects through to software implementations where it works in synergy with our implementation approach. At a high level, the project objectives feed into parallel streams, such as, Delivery, Management and Governance. These streams operate together to achieve the desired project outcomes. A diagrammatic view of this is shown in Figure 1 below.

The Delivery component is addressed across four phases:

  • Initiation: This phase sees the project kicked off and the initial project planning completed.
  • Execution: Depending on the project deliverables, this might comprise a series of workshops, the development of bespoke software or the deployment of one of our products.
  • Delivery: This phase finalises the execution which could be a successful go-live or the delivery of a report.
  • Closure: In this phase we would transition to “business as usual”, review the objectives and outcomes and close the project.

The Management component runs for the entire project and encompasses the day-to-day management of tasks like project risks and issues; resource allocation and reporting; and status management. Additionally, there is responsibility for maintenance of a high level of quality throughout the project.

The Governance framework is established during the Initiation Phase. Following its establishment, it operates for the entirety of the project and ensures the controls and processes are in place to achieve the objectives while acknowledging the roles and responsibilities of the various stakeholder groups.

To date we have found this methodology and its earlier iterations to be very effective in the delivery of projects in a healthcare environment. However, as we follow the evidence, don’t be surprised if we keep on optimising this in the future!

Cindy Wills is the Chair of the Project Management Forum at Alcidion