Legacy support engagements can be either disruptive or seamless to a hospital from a clinician’s perspective. The characteristics that determine one or the other fall solely on capabilities of the legacy support vendor and the quality of communication and legwork hospitals undergo before they start an engagement with their selected legacy support vendor. If the vendor and the hospital communicate poorly or have separate goals, the execution and completion of a project can be damaging to a clinician’s ability to perform their job.
Part of the vendor selection process involves understanding whether the two sets of objectives match. Compatibility and communication matter in a vendor relationship to ensure the project's completion is less prone to errors and to protect it from suffering with unmet or mismatched expectations. Three key areas can help to avoid vendor selection issues.
It helps if the hospital forms a project team to help shepherd the vendor selection process, and to define what they are looking for in a legacy vendor. This includes exploring current and past vendors with which the hospital has enjoyed working. At this phase, the team can also begin to define service level requirements that would go into a service level agreement.
Organizations should perform a pros-and-cons analysis for prospective vendors and seek a partner who understands the organization. This includes ensuring matching cultures for the client and vendor. It’s also vital that the contractor demonstrates an understanding of the volumes and routines behind day-to-day operations. This level of analysis can help the organization choose a vendor who can provide long-term support if needed.
Finding the right vendor is about identifying the expertise and the skills being brought to the table. Staffing, technical and process issues can still arise, but by following these steps, you can make sure the legacy support vendor you choose can be trusted to solve problems and provide collaborative solutions.
Pre-planning ways to streamline the negotiation and contract phase can help produce efficiencies during this step that can have a lasting effect throughout the project. One of the first decisions to be made in negotiations is whether you want your contractor to sign your Master Services Agreement (MSA), or whether you will sign the vendor’s MSA. Either way, having an agreement ready to go can speed up contact negotiations.
It is necessary for the organization’s representatives to understand their level of authority for approving requirements and budgets. Some changes and additions can require the approval of the Board of Directors. Clear lines of authority for signing contracts are also needed. Legal teams should review and approve items as early as possible, and all internal decision-making groups should meet regularly as negotiations move forward.
Legacy support engagements don’t have to be disruptive. By having a kick-off and requirements gathering phase, performing the due diligence work, and looking for process improvements, hospitals can go a long way in successfully navigating the vendor selection phase for legacy support professionals. At the very least, these steps will help hospitals save time and money during the search for a vendor who they can trust will take the extra effort to learn their culture and adopt their legacy system for the duration of the legacy support.