by adgrooms on February 26, 2020

How do you plan and implement a software project in Healthcare? You want to get a project fully implemented in the fastest way possible without cutting corners and overrunning the cost, which is difficult to achieve. Our experience includes many years of consulting on enterprise software projects for a variety of industries. In this time we have seen a technique that is very useful but not widely used. Roadmapping is a can focus a project, capture the cost and duration better, and reduce risk.

Software consulting in any industry typically starts with a bidding process that mostly consists of listening to sales pitches from different companies. It is usually a brief conversation, and discussions include just the broad strokes description of the need to be met. Representing the consulting team, you typically have salespeople, sales engineers, business analysts, and a project manager. The problem with this is they aren't the ones that will be doing the implementation. They may technically understand the solution, but not the details of how to make it happen. Representing the client, you typically have representatives from leadership, but not usually the individuals who participate in the day to day work that is impacted by the project. They understand the goals and direction of the organization but not the details of the work that can make a difference to the success or failure of the project.

After the interview process, the institution settles on a company to implement. The parties may have talked about general goals and milestones, but the real planning only starts after an agreement is made and while implementation is happening. At this point, the people creating the solution meet the people who will be utilizing the solution. Inevitably, the project changes and grows. Planning as you go, with a lack of a complete picture, can lead to the unexpected growth of the project. Multitasking implementation while you're still actively doing discovery often leads to time and cost overruns. Roadmapping can help avoid this slippery slope.

Roadmapping is a discovery process that happens before project bidding. A road-mapping team brings together all of the resources over multiple sessions to plan the project, start to finish. They prepare requirements, timelines, and cost projections that can be thoroughly discussed and refined. At the end of the process, the client has a document in hand that states how the solution will be implemented, with buy-in from all stakeholders. This helps them decide whether the planning team does the implementation or to entertain bids from other companies. If the project merits bidding, all participants have a clear, thorough, and well-vetted plan to create proposals against. If the road mapping team does a poor job, the organization has learned something about the work to be done that can be applied to another, hopefully, better round of road mapping, and has learned not to engage the road mapping team to do the work for a relatively low cost.

It is still possible, even likely that more will be learned during the implementation phase and adjustments will be made. But the scope of these types of changes is much reduced, unlikely to impact the project budget or timeline. Another benefit is that it is a single source of understanding from which all of the resources can work. The result is a more efficiently run project with a better chance of success.

Software projects can be complicated and challenging to implement. Cost and time overruns may seem to be just part of the process. But some upfront investment in planning can pay dividends in the course of a project. Roadmapping is a project planning strategy that provides an end to end vision, reducing risk and guiding the implementation of a successful project.