IT Project Implementation Failure

Introduction

The health industry is very dynamic and constantly under pressure to deliver excellent services. Community demand for quality health care services is increasing and so is the cost of providing these services. Resources are also extremely scarce and governments, insurers, and owners are demanding value for money. Rapid advances in medical technology and information technology have magnified the expectations of both consumers and health professionals (Harris, 2005). Traditional structures that once seemed sufficient are now outdated and must be replaced with modern information systems.

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According to Glaser (2002), Information Technology (IT) can be a very critical contributor to strategic plans of health care providers to reduce operational costs, efficiently respond to managed health care and improve the quality of service delivery to patients as well as physicians. Unfortunately, the leaders of health care organizations struggle with their organization’s use of and commitment to IT (Glaser, 2002). The implementation of most health care information systems ends up failing either partially or totally. Failed systems include those that have been abandoned because of being over budgeted or those that are not used as intended (Harris, 2005). Even though health care executives believe that information system will provide some form of competitive advantage and will be a great boost to organizational strategies and plans, it is almost impossible for most executives to point out prior information system implementations that have led to significant returns and competitive performance of the organization. On the other hand, however, it is never difficult to spot examples of failed implementations of information systems (Glaser, 2002).

Indicators of Project Failure Manifested in the Case Study

There are many reasons why IT project implementations crush. Among them are; having a poorly defined project scope, unclear accountability, marginally skilled project participants, underestimating the magnitude of the task, neglecting to anticipate short-term operational disruptions, and users feeling like victims rather than participants in the implementation process (Wager, Lee & Glaser, 2009). Other factors include; lack of honesty, lack of belief in the project, insufficient leadership support, project complexity, insufficient budget allocations, invisible progress, organizational inertia, and lack of technological stability and maturity.

A number of these factors are manifested in the Memorial Health System Clinician Provider Order Entry (CPOE) implementation case study. Although users were opposed to the acquisition of the suggested system right from the start, the top management in the organization chose to ignore their concerns and went on to commission the implementation of the system. Another factor that manifests itself in the case study is organizational inertia. The health system’s physicians were already overwhelmed by other responsibilities and expressed fears that the proposed system would increase workload. Instead of taking verbal orders, the CPOE system would require doctors to directly enter the orders into a computer system. There is also a lack of honesty between Dr. Melvin Sparks and Sally Martin, the executive project manager. Because of Sparks’ unwillingness to accept bad news, Sally decided to keep all negative aspects of the project from him and resolved to only present good-looking statistics that gave a false impression of the project progress. Subsequently, she refused to speak up even when she knew that things were not going right. In planning, the implementers also failed to factor in short-term operational disruptions. Time and again, Sally had to divert resources meant for the CPOE project to other pressing needs. The other major cause of the failed implementation was the complexity of the project. Upon successful completion, the CPOE system would affect users, communication between different branches, and several organizational processes.

Strategies to Eliminate or Minimize the Effect of the Indicators

To ensure that users do not feel like victims rather than participants, I will do my best to involve everyone at every stage of the project. According to Harris (2005), the level of involvement of users and other stakeholders determines the success or failure of the health information system. The IT system must meet the needs of the users. The involvement of users at all stages of the process of information system acquisition and implementation is very critical for success to be realized (Harris, 2005). To deal with the problem of organizational inertia, I will work closely with the affected parties and seek to get their views. The idea of implementing a health information system is to improve efficiency. A system that will increase workload is not at all favorable. To tackle the problem of lack of openness, I will create an environment that encourages sincerity between all those involved. Operating based on an open policy will persuade everyone in the organization to freely express their concerns. I will also put in place mechanisms to deal with any disruptions that may arise in the process of implementation. A clear plan of action will help to minimize unexpected incidences that may derail the progress. Finally, I will plan the implementation of the project in phases to reduce the level of complexity and lessen the chances of failure associated with project size.

Conclusion

Achieving value from IT investments requires great efforts from management effort (Wager et al., 2009). One way to guarantee success is to require all major IT projects to be presented as proposals and subjected to strict evaluation before approval rather than being discussed and agreed on informally. It must be clear to everyone how the project will advance the organization’s strategy, reduce operational costs, and improve health care services. Investment risks must also be identified (Wager et al., 2009).

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References

Glaser, J. P. (2002). The Strategic Application of Information Technology in Health Care Organizations. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Harris, M. G. (2005). Managing Health Services: Concepts and Practice. Australia: Elsevier.

Wager, K. A., Lee, F. W. & Glaser, J. P. (2009). Health Care Information Systems: A Practical Approach for Health Care Management. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

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