November 12, 2020

Healthcare IT Project Managers in Our New Virtual World

Jenn Krebs

So, we are on the 9th month of work from home, and it looks like it’s going to stay the new normal for some time.

Thankfully, we are still working, and the healthcare IT projects (new implementations and optimizations) are ramping back up again. If you need to bring on extra help for your projects, what do you need to think about when hiring a project manager (either FTE or consultant)? 

Working in this virtual world requires a slightly expanded skill set from your typical onsite consultant or employee. You need all the regular project manager attributes, as well as to look for some special characteristics or past experiences. 

IT Project Management Skill Set 

This is my standard list of experiences/traits I counsel my clients to look for: 

  • Facilitation – A good project manager must be able to run any meeting, at any time, with any audience. Doesn’t matter if its an executive level steering committee or an end user acceptance testing session, you want someone who can guide the conversation smoothly, bring attendees back to topic if needed, and clearly state goals/decisions/follow-up. No level of project manager should be above taking notes/sending out follow-up, but it’s also good to know when you should designate such duties as a learning opportunity for others.  
  • Liaison between IT/Operations – In healthcare IT, you especially want someone with experience working with developers, architects, and technical support staff. The right person can work with those individuals in IT & translate system capabilities to the business. And vice versa – work with the business and translate their needs to the IT staff. Bonus if you can work with the two groups & come up with creative solutions after understanding the capabilities & needs.  
  • Lead by Example – If you think of your best consultants or employees, they showcase the behaviors you want all employees to embrace. Whether that’s dedication, flexibility, being able to think outside the box of your organization’s longtime culture or simply learning new skills (note-taking, follow-up, meeting facilitation, etc.), you want someone who will mentor your FTE’s & leave your organization better than they found it. 

What else do you need to look for now? After 8 years of working remotely at least 50% and now with virtual being the new normal for everyone, I’ve noted a couple attributes to add to the list.  

  • Listen More, Talk LessI don’t think anyone wants every meeting to be on video. While video meetings are important to maintain culture and closeness of the team, they should be used sparingly. If people are on many conference calls even with just screen sharing every day, there’s definitely a sense of fatigue & it’s easy for those not facilitating to not participate. It’s important that your project manager doesn’t just talk at people during meetings. You want someone who is going to encourage others to participate, even singling thought leaders/lead subject matters out to ask specific, thoughtful questions. If you are having the meeting in the first place, you obviously want multiple people’s thoughts, opinions and consensus. 
  • Succinct Communication – With everything being online, people are getting more email than ever before. When executives/project leadership need fast answers/decision documents, you want to ensure that you have someone who can lead the group of experts to produce concise, easy to understand documentation.  

 

How can we help? At The Wilshire Group, we employ project managers who can help with every kind of healthcare IT project. We would love to talk to you about the above skillsets or any project management needs you may have.  

Jenn Krebs

Senior Strategic Advisor

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