21 August 2012 by Peter Oliver
Getting IT Right for Health
This is the second blog in a short series, building on what was outlined in "'One Size Fits All' is a Myth". It explores some of the first steps of delivering against an IT strategy; specifically sharing the vision and establishing good governance…
So, you have your renewed, refreshed and prioritised IT strategy that is carefully aligned with organisational and national strategic objectives, defines how technology can support your Trust in achieving these objectives and takes in to account current and future technologies? Excellent. Now it’s time to enact the strategy and make sure the right solutions are specified and delivered, whether those solutions are existing systems which may need some optimisation, new systems and newly integrated disparate systems to form a solution.
The first step is to ensure that you’re not working in isolation; begin by sharing the vision. Your IT strategy is something that should be understood by a range of key stakeholders; including Executives, Senior Managers, Clinical Staff and Support Staff. Think about how to communicate the vision – rather than just publishing a detailed strategy. Focus on how the appropriate use of technology will help different staff groups to improve their work environment, deliver efficiencies and ultimately improve patient care. Make it snappy; make it clear; think about how to communicate creatively.
With an IT strategy that is clearly understood by representatives of these groups, it will be much easier to engage them in defining a sensible roadmap for delivering against the strategy. It will also give you a wide cohort from which you can establish your governance, advisory and delivery teams.
Governance is key and hopefully your Trust is able to utilise an existing sub-Committee of the Trust Board to oversee the delivery of an IT strategy; if not, this is something that your Trust Board should be considering – especially given the significance of typical IT investment. This group will be able to champion the strategy and will be empowered to make critical investment decisions and bring senior managers on board.
Advisory Groups are another key component of delivering the strategy and you’re going to need representatives of staff groups (clinical, non-clinical, support services, managerial etc) to work across projects; possibly also including projects outwith the scope of the IT strategy but which support the overall change programme. It’s important that any Advisory Groups are established at a strategic level and called upon as necessary. Members of these groups should understand how the strategy will support the wider organisational strategic objectives, be enthusiastic about achieving them and be willing to act as champions amongst their peers.
A Programme Board is the next key component. Until it becomes necessary to establish Project Boards and to devolve delivery responsibility, a suitably resourced Programme Board should define the benefits-led programme of work to deliver the strategy. It should work with Advisory Groups to define the requirements of any solutions and build the business cases which assess the options against their strategic fit, benefits, affordability and achievability; whilst also beginning to think about procurement.
In our next blog, we’ll explore the development of sound five-case business cases, based on the delivery of an IT strategy that is firmly based on delivering the organisational and national strategic objectives.