Having been at the forefront of technology implementations at a number of hospitals and health care systems, I’ve seen the incredible things technology can do help care teams do their jobs at a whole new level. Unfortunately, I’ve also seen projects backfire and create more problems than solutions. But with the right mindset and these helpful tips, your next IT project can be a painless experience that leads to success.

1. Define your shared vision, and keep it front and center throughout the project.

Technology projects, particularly software implementations, can be a bit intangible as far as features, functionality, and what an organization hopes to achieve with them. It’s important to maintain sharp focus on why you’ve chosen to implement the technology. You can even literally post it on a sign in a conference room if it helps your group stay focused on what you hope to achieve. An implementation can be a long journey with twists and turns, and you want to make sure you end up in the right place.

2. Get the right stakeholder group on board.

Leadership is key in terms of supporting the group’s vision/charter. Selecting the stakeholder group is an integral process. Leaders need to be open and honest communicators. When key team members are excluded because leaders withhold information, their part of the puzzle will be missing (if not in the beginning, certainly in the end). Cross-functional team members are all trained differently and see problems and arrive at solutions in a different way. Having a group where the dialog is transparent helps the work get done seamlessly and efficiently. When stakeholders withhold information, you may find you have to vary your process as the more information reveals itself. That can single handedly halt a project. Using a standard model for process improvement can also help keep the team focused and on track. It may take some initial investment, but it creates vital common ground for all disciplines and serves as the focal point for operationalizing the work and monitoring for potential barriers and probable outcomes.

3. Expect the unexpected. Things change.

The whole project team, and especially the team leader should remain cognizant that the dynamic of the group may change and different players may be needed on an ad hoc basis. Sometimes this happens because you need to bring in new subject matter experts. Sometimes it happens because people leave the organization. There are lots of reasons the dynamic can change, and the longer a project takes, the more likely it is there will be personnel changes. Don’t let these changes rattle you. Expect that they’ll happen, and be prepared by sharing knowledge amongst teammates.

More tips to come! Check back soon for Part 2 of Get Your IT Project Right the First Time.