A Delicate Operation – Effective Portfolio Management in Health IT

4 minute read

Upland Admin

IT PMOs always face challenging environments, in healthcare that challenge is even greater.  Digital transformation is changing healthcare significantly, there is virtually no project undertaken that doesn’t have a need for IT involvement – either as an IT driven initiative or as IT support for a business project.  IT PMOs are also being called upon to be the drivers on these projects simply due to their experience in project management, something their clinical counterparts may not always have.  Far from being a criticism, it’s simply not a priority – their focus is on patient care and anything that doesn’t directly support that falls outside of their concern.


Eclipse Project Portfolio Management for Healthcare ITThis forces IT PMOs to become de facto managers of all projects, whether IT is driving or supporting, but things get even more complex than that.  Leading edge patient care requires unique applications, services and equipment.  That in turn leads clinical experts to commit to those unique solutions, without realizing the technical inter-dependencies, nor the level of effort needed for integration and support.  As a result, healthcare IT PMOs are called in after commitments have already been made, needing to support these ‘ghost’ projects and lend their IT expertise and overall project experience.

And, all of this must be achieved against the backdrop of shrinking budgets. In an industry where client care drives spending, IT is seen as a support role to boost clinical needs, with the onus of proving organizational value falling directly on the shoulders of the IT PMO.

To be as successful as possible in this environment IT PMOs need a project portfolio management solution that offers all of the following:

Visibility into all project work

The portfolio management solution must capture and centralize all project work, regardless of whether it was initiated by the IT department or was driven by clinical requirements. Doing so provides a single source of truth, regardless of where the project was initiated, or how much IT was involved in the initial planning.

Project transparency

In order to be an effective asset to the key stakeholders, an effective project system must capture not only the portfolio work list, it must also capture the requirements, schedules, financials, and resources for all projects, providing a rich source of information to all stakeholders, whether IT, clinicians or business leaders.

Accurate resource and time tracking

With so many projects, and so many variables, not to mention a highly distributed project delivery environment, the ability to capture and manage resource allocation and time entry is paramount.  There must then be the ability to analyze that data to report on utilization, accurately manage chargebacks on a project and departmental basis, and identify opportunities for adjustments.

Easy to learn, intuitive to use

Regardless of who is working on the project, and their level of experience managing projects, the ideal system should be easy to interact with, so anyone can enter and manage project information. By lowering the barriers to interaction, the data and information held in the system will be more accurate and useful to the overall organization

Business relevant communication

A simple user interface is useless if the tool is full of jargon and ‘project speak’ that means nothing to clinical specialists.  The project portfolio management solution must allow the IT PMO to communicate with business users in language they can relate to, and must allow those users to interact in ways that are simple and straightforward.

Low cost of management

Time spent managing the tool is time away from managing projects, the software must offer consistent and scalable processes, workflows and reporting that allows IT PMOs to focus on the work they are managing and not the platform being used to support that management.

Healthcare environments will always be complex, portfolio management solutions that add to that complexity are simply barriers to progress.  IT PMOs need systems that are powerful enough to manage highly complex, rapidly changing project environments; flexible enough to allow projects to be managed the way IT wants; and easy to use so project teams can interact with business and clinical teams on their own.  With that, IT PMOs can support all the organization’s needs within the tight financial, resource and time constraints they face; without it, they will struggle to stay in control, and that’s not a healthy outcome for anyone.

For more information, listen to our webinar with Agnesian Healthcare and learn how they are using project portfolio management to improve visibility and consistency across all internal projects.

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