Client Testimonial – Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Request for Proposals (RFP), Software/Partner Evaluation, Organizational Change Services
The following testimonial is a transcript of a recent conversation between Scott Waters (SW) – Overlake Hospital Medical Center & Clinics’ Chief Information & Technology Officer, and Christopher Gunn (CG) – Approach Consulting’s Founder & Chief Executive Officer.
CG: “Hello everyone! I am Christopher Gunn – Founder & CEO of Approach Consulting.
Today, we’re talking Healthcare & Hospital Transformation, & would like to introduce you to Overlake Hospital Medical Center & Clinics; they are an independent, leading healthcare provider organization located in Bellevue, WA, and predominantly serving Seattle’s East side.
Specifically, today, we’ll discuss their recent phases of organizational transformation as they evaluated, selected, planned & implemented Workday as their new ERP system to drive the back-office functions of their organization.
Our hope with today’s session is that you can learn from others’ experiences, so that you’ll be better informed prior to commencing your own organizational, or even personal, transformation.
Before we jump into our main discussion, a little about Approach Consulting, so that it is clear for our viewers what we do, who we serve, and why we do what we do.
So, for those of you who don’t know us:
- We’re an Advisory and Consulting firm with global experience, focused on enabling client success in Technology, ERP, Digital Transformation, and Organizational Change investments.
- Predominantly focused on the U.S. healthcare sector, we’ve been operating since 2010, when I founded our company that I still have the distinct pleasure of leading today.
- Prior to 2010, I founded and ran a Technology Consulting & Risk Advisory Services firm in the United Kingdom, serving public and private sector clients in the EMEA market.
- And before that, I had the honor to serve the global Military Intelligence Community. It is this 16-year foundation, with a focus on ensuring effective strategic, technology & change outcomes, that I attribute to our current day success. This experience drives the “why” behind what we do; helping our clients to understand, evaluate and select their technology investments, & to help their people embrace and adopt change. More to come on that later.
- We are headquartered in sunny Tampa FL, with a client base ranging from privately held to Fortune 50 companies, and with predominant focus across the United States.
- And finally, perhaps most important given our current pandemic, we’ve been operating with a focus on remote value delivery since 2017 & remain well positioned to serve our clients in this physically contactless fashion.
So, now you’ve gotten to know us a little better, on to today’s topic:
Here with me today is Scott Waters – Chief Information & Technology Officer at Overlake.
Scott, thank you so much for taking some time to chat today, I truly appreciate it indeed. Especially so given how much opportunity 2020 has presented for the healthcare industry to make transformational strides!
Scott, perhaps you’d be so kind as to provide our listeners with a brief overview of Overlake and your role within that organization?”
SW: “Sure, I’m happy to. Thank you, Chris! Overlake Medical Center is a 349-bed hospital, Level 3 Trauma Center, located as Chris stated on the East side of the Seattle metropolitan area. We serve this East side community, it is known as the East side, it is one of fastest growing areas within the Seattle metropolitan area, spanning across cities like Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah, just to name a few. The East side is home to a lot of tech start-ups and has a pretty thriving tech scene. We have organizations like Google and Facebook, Nintendo and obviously Microsoft and Apple with large headquarters or large locations here within the East side.
So, in addition to our Medical Center, we have a thriving Clinical network of primary care, specialty care and urgent care locations that serve the East side all up and down from North to South, and further on East up and down the (Interstate) 405 corridor.
Our organization has about 3,800 employees and we’ve been here for 60 years. We’ve just celebrated our 60-year birthday, on October 16!
So, on the Clinical side, a little bit of background. On the Clinical side, we’ve been very invested in and focused on the implementation of our Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system over the last 4-5 years, and that has been, like I said, one of the primary focuses for the organization.
On the business side, the business applications side, prior to this ERP project that we’re in the midst of, we really had a patchwork of systems, a number of disparate systems, and blending that with manual processes and paper processes to, kind of, keep our back-office operations moving along.
So, prior to this ERP project, the only major organizational change initiative we had taken on in a deliberate manner was our EMR implementation. We did apply deliberate change management tactics to that, but really hadn’t landed on ‘What is our approach to Organizational Change?’ I think this ERP project really opened our eyes a little bit and got us interested in not only the people side, the value side of applying deliberate Organizational Change but there’s a Financial impact with that obviously as well.
Prior to this ERP project, we were looking at, you know, who in our organization could lead this effort. Do we have anyone with this skillset and other expertise to do the change side, to also do the RFP, the evaluation of vendors, the site visits…? There is a lot of work that goes into looking at a large, Enterprise system like an ERP system. So, we didn’t have anyone on staff, within our Executive Team or even our Project Management team with the background, or more importantly, the bandwidth to be able to take this type of work on.”
CG: “Thanks, Scott! And then maybe you could give us 30 seconds on your role itself within the organization and what you are responsible for?”
SW: “Sure! So, I am the Chief Information and Technology Officer. So, I oversee all technology aspects internally, so our user-facing side of the business. And I also oversee our Digital Transformation as it applies to the internal customers and patients, but also our external patients and partners in the community.”
CG: “That is great! Certainly, a lot on your hands and on your plate right now, especially with 2020. And like most organizations, there is often so much more going on behind the scenes. Perhaps you could tell our viewers some of things that Overlake has been focused on during this time that you’ve been working on your ERP implementation?”
SW: “Wow, it’s been, it’s changed so much. From the beginning of when we started this journey, 2 years ago to now, I think most recently like every other Healthcare organization we’ve been focused on the pandemic. First, our response, then how do we stabilize and prepare for a future wave, or what’s coming down the road for us in terms of pandemic. So that’s really blocked the sun in a lot of ways, but we were able to keep our ERP project moving forward, which was a really important thing for us.
We do have a large campus renewal project that is going on, undergoing right now called Project FutureCare; it is a large, strategic project that we have been running side by side with the ERP project and this campus renewal project, Project FutureCare, is really going to change the way we deliver healthcare for our patients on the East side. As I stated earlier, we’re in the middle of a very tech-savvy, hot bed of innovation here on the East side, and our patients really expect to get their healthcare in a location that is representative of the type of work that they do and the technical skillsets and maturity that they are used to in their work lives. So, this transformation will really bring a lot of that to fruition for our patients, not only in the in-patient setting but also a lot of our clinical and outpatient settings as well.”
CG: “So, without question, a busy time. I think there’s certainly a lot going on there, much the same as many other healthcare providers but being in the middle of an ERP implementation and Organizational Change as well at the same time, and delivering to your community and your patients… much to do and certainly we take our hats off to you and your team; you’ve done an amazing job!
So, let’s get back to Organizational Change & the Digital Transformation journey itself. Perhaps, if you would, walk us through what you engaged us to help you with and why you chose us?”
SW: “Sure, sure. Like I said before, we looked at who we had as far as our bench strength within our Executive Team, our Senior Leadership Team and our Project Management team. Did we have anyone that had the bandwidth and the expertise to effectively really go out and look at RFP, the RFP process, develop a formal Change Management approach to this project and to help us build out the project team and find all the players and put them together. The conclusion we came to is one that I think most organizations, specifically in healthcare, come to and that is while we do have very smart people and a lot of people that have this skillset, or pieces of this skillset, we didn’t have anybody with the whole in one person or two people with the bandwidth to actually focus on it. A project like this has to be done well and it has to have someone that is leading the charge and living this every day who doesn’t have a lot of other operational obligations and other distractions that would deter them from getting the goals achieved for the project.
So, we engaged Approach (Consulting) to do RFP; help us with the RFP, help us put it together, help us send it out; there’s a lot to it, it is a pretty complex process and it is very time intensive. RFP Management and the Governance, rules for the road for the Vendor Selection, how the vendors are going to engage with us. It is easy to overestimate your ability to respond [laughs] to these Requests For Proposals (RFP) and everyone likes to think they can respond and read through these multi-page documents in a timely fashion, but we just couldn’t and so we relied on Approach to go through and vet these things as they came back, help us score, help us organize a scoring methodology. There’s a lot of art and science to everything but there’s a lot of science behind how you evaluate vendors if you want to do it objectively.
So, RFP Management, Governance, then we looked at Software Evaluation and Negotiations. As we started to get these RFPs back from the different vendors, which one or two did we land on that fit best with our philosophy and our application portfolio. Approach (Consulting) helped us figure out, not just the check the box functionality but philosophically, roadmap wise, strategically, which vendor partners really look like they fit with Overlake well. Approach (Consulting) helped us with that.
Then the Change Management, which is probably the most important piece of this and is easily one of the things I think most organizations fall flat on. Once that hard work is done, you’ve done your RFP, sent out your RFPs, they’ve come back, you’ve evaluated, you’ve scored, you’ve met a number of times to evaluate the vendors, you pick a vendor, you negotiate contracts, that takes a long time. And you think, good, let’s just start the project, you get a Project Plan and Project Managers in place and generally the Communications Plan, Organizational Change, Training, all that stuff falls by the wayside and isn’t a highest priority.
We wanted to do this differently. We wanted to do it so that it was successful. We wanted it to look a lot like our implementation of our Electronic Medical Records (EMR) where we really focused on how this is going to impact our clinicians, and our support staff. What it was going to mean to patients, how we communicated, the tone, the frequency, all those things. We wanted to apply that same type of approach to our ERP project and we just didn’t have that skillset in house. So, we looked to Approach (Consulting) to help us bring in a framework, which they did, and they helped us deliver this framework, and we’ve actually adopted it as something that we are going to use going forward for large, Enterprise projects.
I received a lot of coaching & mentoring from Chris and his team at Approach. He also provided the same type of coaching, specific to Change Management, to our Executive Sponsor and Chief Financial Officer as well.
So, really helped us build that change plan out and also, I would say more importantly, helped us build an overall competency within our Leadership Team surrounding the importance of Change Management and that Change Management isn’t just a Communications Plan. It is, the people side of any project is Change Management.”
CG: “Thank you, Scott. That is a lot! I am in total agreement with you that this has to be done right, and without question, I fully believe that (together) we did the right thing.
That is a nice segue to the next question, the fact that you’re now live with Workday, if you can, share a little bit about where are you at in that digital transformation change journey itself?”
SW: “I mentioned the pandemic changed the way that we looked at business in general, and I think you can either be a fortune teller, lucky or smart, I’ll take lucky [laughs] any day of the week! We were very fortunate to pick a partner in Workday that was forward thinking, and we did that deliberately, and highly leveraged mobile technology (in their solution) to get the work done.
As we were starting to get ready to go-live with Workday, we realized at the same time we were hitting this pandemic situation and we had to move our workforce, primarily remote. Almost all of our business support staff had to work 80-90% remote, and they had been, for quite some time, so we implemented virtual meeting technologies, collaboration, we did a rapid deployment of Microsoft Teams, lots of other things to enable virtual visits for our patients; a lot of these things to try to react to this pandemic, new norm. Workday fit nicely with that and has. Most of our Leadership Team does most of their work from their smart device, whether that be an iPad, a Surface or their phone. They are approving invoices and tracking their finances via the mobile app more than anything. I would say it was a ‘shot in the arm’ for our Digital Transformation journey, and it fit nicely with our application portfolio and our look to the future which is really the proliferation of mobility solutions.”
CG: “Yes, I remember lots of discussion around the mobility side, the philosophy to make sure you are partnering with somebody that for the next 10 or 20 years is going to be somebody that is not only going to invest in you as an organization but invest in healthcare, invest in bettering the solutions that they provide. This isn’t something that is done overnight, and it is certainly something that we were fortunate enough to experience with you. I’m so glad to hear that all of that investment is paying off now that you are live on Workday.”
SW: “Yes, it really is.”
CG “So, in your opinion, what would you say some of the success stories are from this experience?”
SW: “There are a lot of success stories! The few that are near and dear to my heart are the impact, personally, and the value that I was led to, the value proposition of Change Management, in general. So much so that I invested my own time & resources to go out and get certified in a Change Management methodology so that I could build it into our Project Management skillset & toolset. Since then, I’ve sent all of my Project Managers off to get the same training, so that whether we have a separate person running Change Management, like we did with this ERP project, or it is the Project Manager that has to wear the two hats, as we sometimes do, there is a very big focus on the people side of change, the people side of every project. So that was one big success story.
The other piece is the ability for us to build this into a competency for Leadership. Just as most organizations right now are looking at virtual work and the skillset required to effectively lead virtual meetings, and participate and present in virtual meeting settings, that being a core competency necessary for Leadership, at the very least, we have made Change Management and a framework related to Change Management a core competency that we expect out of all of our leaders. So that is another success.”
CG: “That’s fantastic! That is so pleasing to hear that our (mutual) investment decision was the right one, and it is paying off. Now the maturity & the capability of the organization from a change perspective is seen as critically important. Nonetheless with the pandemic, and coronavirus and everything that has come at us this year, you were positioned well to deal with what has come down the pike!
I know that time is precious, I want to start wrapping this up. What I’d like to wrap this up with is your advice to other organizations to consider when they are looking for a consulting & advisory partnership. What would you say they really should look out for if they are going to embark upon something like what you have?”
SW: “Everything is built on trust! You have to trust the organization you are working with. They have to have the same sensibility and mission. They have to understand your mission, your organizational mission, and what the culture is that you have in place at your organization. I think that is critical. Objectivity. You need someone that is objective. You don’t want a consulting group that is tied to a vendor. It is ideal if they are independent, and they are really working for you. You look at them as an extension. It is about relationships in any business, and the more trust that you build into that relationship, the more objectivity, the better.
I would look at someone that really looks at the long-term relationship with you, rather than the short-term cashing of a check, and looks at doing work that helps you further your goals, rather than just those specific to the engagement or project that you are working with them on.
Then the philosophy, on the flip side of that, it is important that they know your philosophy as a leader, your organizational mission, the culture in place at your organization, but you should know that about the consulting group as well. What’s their mission, are they committed to the same things that your organization is committed to, related to philanthropic efforts, things like that. Whatever you feel the alignment criteria may be.
I like to work with folks that admit when they don’t have all the answers but are happy to help you find the answers; I get a little nervous when someone has the answer to everything! Because we don’t, none of us do.
So, when you work with someone that is an organization that is humble but capable and is able to help you find the answers that they don’t have, then that is also very important to me.”
CG: “Absolutely. There is so much more that we could talk about, but I know that your time is precious, as is everyone else in your organization so finally I want to say thank you to you personally and all of the team at Overlake. Working with you all is a blessing. I love every minute of enabling and participating in and watching your success. For everyone one out there, taking the time to do so, I want to thank everybody for their time.
Hopefully, you’ll find this useful & helpful as you embark upon your journeys.
Most importantly, for this year, stay safe and healthy, and do look forward to much more content from us in the future. Scott, any closing remarks?”
SW: “Thank you, Chris. It has been a great journey, and we are not at the end of it yet. I’ve really enjoyed working with you, I’ve enjoyed our conversations and the counsel that you’ve provided.”
CG: “Thank you so much, Scott!”