In my last blog, I spoke about the changes I’ve seen over the past 20 years – most notably, the differences in client needs and the broader approach now required in archiving and legacy decommissioning. We’ve gone from completing single projects to executing true enterprise archiving programs and from prospective clients asking us, “What is this?” to “How do we get this done?” Over the years, our engagements have become larger and more complex. In this post, I offer some advice to help organizations address their archiving and legacy decommissioning needs:
5 Lessons Learned from 20 years of Legacy Decommissioning and Active Archiving
Start early – Ideally, at the same time you select a new HIS or learn of an upcoming merger. Inventory your applications and decide what should happen with the data after the transition. You won’t keep all of it. Determine what you need to retain and how it needs to be stored to preserve its value.
Consider the costs – This is especially important for mergers or acquisitions. You’ll want to assess your costs so that the true cost of the transaction is dialed into the M&A proformas.
Include the business unit stakeholders – Ask for input from the clinicians and staff who manage your Revenue Cycle, HIM, Finance/HR, IS, Analytics, etc. areas to get a complete picture of your end users’ needs for data accessibility and functional software. Wholistic enterprise planning requires many perspectives.
Manage expectations – Set yourself up for success by treating an archive project as you would any new system implementation. Establish a vision, project plan and budget to keep internal resources and your vendor aligned. Assign a project manager to manage those internal resources as well as timelines and eliminate obstacles to project completion. It’s not unusual for users to assume they’ll get a replica of the legacy system in the archive, so you’ll also want to clearly communicate what your users can expect.
Ask the hard questions – When selecting a vendor, ask about their process, timeline to go-live and experience. If a timeline seems too good to be true, push for information about how they’ll move that quickly. There is no “easy button” that will mysteriously produce great results. Short implementation times – something desired by clients and vendors alike – can be achieved for simple systems with minimal implementation needs. But to do it right, archiving projects involving larger, more complicated legacy applications require more time and a wholistic, enterprise approach. (Truth be told, taking that approach benefits both large and small systems.) You’ll want information about a vendor’s past projects, too. Experience decommissioning only one or two types of legacy applications does not scale, nor does it equal the kind of expertise that a vendor with a true enterprise solution and experience decommissioning multiple applications offers. Look for a well-tested archiving process and enterprise archiving application when assessing a potential vendor.
“Experience decommissioning one or two types of legacy applications does not scale, nor does it equal the kind of expertise that a vendor with a true enterprise solution and experience decommissioning multiple applications offers. ”
While considering these tips, this final thought might be the most important: Accept that you’ll need to rely on the experience, insight and assistance of experts outside of your organization to execute these vital projects.
By doing so with an experienced enterprise archiving vendor, you ensure your legacy data will be accessible, your solutions will offer the functionality your users need and your staff and clinicians will be able to continue to manage the processes that require legacy data.
With the right preparation, tools and partners, healthcare organizations can implement archiving projects – whether small or large, simple or complex – on budget and on time.