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Manufacturing Simulation Game - "LEGO"

Resource Management
Part 2 of 5


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Integrated resource management within health care tends to be multi-layered and The health care industry thrives on the collection of data and process­ing of information. Just reflect on your personal experiences of how often you repeat your medical history as you encounter each different health care provider. Historically, this information has been noninte-grated and decentralized, forcing duplicative information-sharing and expensive acquisition costs within the supply chain. The average cost of cutting a purchase order is benchmarked at around $100, and pro­cessing that order from point of entry to delivery at the patient bedside passes through numerous integration points. Market-driven demands to contain costs and streamline the supply chain are a natural when considering the shrinking reimbursements environment and health care reform initiatives of recent years.
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center (WFUBMC) is no exception to these pressures. WFUBMC is a level I trauma cen­ter located in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. An 880 pa­tient-bed facility, this medical center is a partnership with North Carolina Baptist Hospitals, Inc., and Wake Forest University School of Medicine. The medical center employs approximately 10,000 people. Service operations include a level 1 trauma center, a burn unit, a children's hospital, a coronary care unit, a comprehensive cancer center, a comprehensive epilepsy center, six specialized in­tensive care units, air care helicopters, and dozens of surgical suites. Subsidiaries consist of a skilled nursing facility, a home health agency, an HMO, a primary care network, and pastoral counseling services.
The medical center has recently updated its information systems to meet year 2000 compliance with an enterprisewide system that was purchased to replace the existing mainframe. The project has spanned three years and is slowly being phased in. The implementation of this ERP system has spotlighted several antiquated processes that have been left to thrive because "we've always done it this way."
Enterprisewide information systems such as the one that WFUBMC has acquired promise cost-cutting advantages and rich data centraliza­tion, forcing integration of resources. Realizing the benefit of such sys­tems integration is not a painless process. The end-result, often re­ferred to as "forward thinking, grounded in the past," has profoundly affected the organization's information culture at the root level. Again, one needs to examine the systems perspective, which includes en­trenched organizational compartmentalization, values, beliefs, and tra­ditions in order to understand why long-standing processes are being forced to change. A paradigm shift.
It's a Long Way from the Executive Suites to the Receiving Dock
Implementing an enterprise-wide system that touts efficiencies of inte­grated resource management proves to be an organization-changing event. Senior management may not realize that implementing a multi-million-dollar ERP system forces fundamental changes that totally re­shape organizational behaviors at the grass roots.
A refreshing antidote referred to as the Sock Drawer Syndrome says it all. How many times do kids just pull their socks out of the drawer without a thought about how they got in there in the first place? Not a care or thought passes through their minds as to how their socks were acquired, washed, mended, sorted, folded, or put away. They just open the sock drawer and magically, the socks are there, an ever-ready sup­ply that is well stocked, replenished, and always available on a moment's notice.
Now, take this thought and apply it to business. How many times have you gone to the store and expected that you'd find just what you're looking for, no doubt in your mind, that it would be on the shelf, or on the rack. And—my oh my, the reaction when you're disappointed. Like what happened and who's at fault?
Take this same concept and apply it to ERP systems. Don't you just turn on the switch and there it is—all the integrated information and bottom-line results that you want? Just open that drawer—isn't that supply chain resource integration perfect? What? Nitty-gritty processes? Where did they come from? It must be that the new system's faulty. What happened to the old system? It was much better.
The problem is that we often take processes for granted and expec­tations are not clearly understood. The systems perspective must be considered in order to appreciate what it takes to implement any new system—process or information—changes that require shaping new behaviors. There's no way around it if you do it right. So the message speaks—get familiar with your sock drawer integration points.
Integrated Resource Process Improvements: How Do We Get There?
The WFUBMC ERP project team charged with implementing the new information system has had to retool integration processes as part of the project scope. Often this team has been decentralized, fragmented, and understaffed. System thinking that requires meshing resources, breaking down silos, avoiding duplication, redefining the organization,
and eliminating waste have all been barriers during implementation. Why has this change been so difficult?
Consider accountabilities. We've had to educate and work hard at changing old mindsets. From the top of the management chain to the
hourly worker, we've had to communicate and foster an enterprisewide mindset. Big-picture thinking. Sharing the concept of a process-cen­tered organization rather than a task-oriented department has not been palatable notion, nor has this thinking been highly rewarded. Cause/ effect relationships have had to be defined to clarify and promote pro­cess-centered thinking. The notion of process-linkages—what steps were done before you in this process chain and what steps comes af­ter—have been tough concepts to accept. Interdependencies and the net result of how individual efforts plug into a big picture of success has been a difficult message to convey when well-defined single tasks have been the norm for so long. Trusting the changes takes time. Mea­suring the small successes add up to employee buy-in of streamlining resource integration. Persistence prevails.

To Be Continued


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