RFP fun

We have just received the responses to our Electronic Health Record RFP. As I had mentioned before, I don’t find a lot of value in the boilerplate RFPs that you would typically get from a consulting organization. Ours only had 56 questions in the functional section (there was a technical section too).

It appears that providing minimal answers to a response is a common vendor tactic. Most of the responses really lacked the depth that I desired. For example, we had some open ended questions regarding disease and health management capabilites. Some vendors had two sentence responses. That should be 8 paragraphs.

I think this is a tactic. I think vendors know that there is a human tendency to fill in the blanks with the answers that the reader wants.

We did try to keep the vendors entertained. In the middle of the RFP we asked: What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow? All of the vendors had a witty response and seemed to appreciate the spirit in which it was asked.

We also asked: Please demonstate how your HER (don’t you just hate it when Microsoft Spell Checker changes EHR to HER) will help us to achieve…

Only one vendor acknowledged our parenthetical observation. They wrote: Our solucion too the Microsoft Word EHR/HER conflikt is to turn off spellcheque.

I would love to reveal that witty responder, but they were the only ones that made us sign a non-disclosre agreement.

One quick sidebar…I took Amicas to task a while back regarding their lack of a web-based tool for tracking service issues. they now have one, and it works very well.

Criteria for Launch

After a project has been budgeted, we ask the business champion to develop a charter. There are a lot of elements in a good charter and the larger the project the more complex the charter requirements.

All project charters must address a few key elements in order to be approved for launch:

  • A detailed project plan (each task must have a duration, successors, predecessors and a description of the deliverable)
  • An eloquent description of the expected benefits
  • Success metrics with actual baselines and targets

This first bullet is important. Luckily Ministry Health Care as a world class project management office that are experts at creating business plans. But most organizations aren’t good at developing plans. They just right down a series of phases with a start date and a stop date. Whenever I see one of those plans (they usually come in an Excel file) I send the user back to develop a real project plan, with a little help. The real plan is always 50% longer (in duration) than the original attempt.