Augmenting the IT Department’s Offerings

I think that part of being a productive employee in the 21st century is finding online services and mobile appps to meet your needs that are not met by the IT department’s standard offerings. Since Internet service and a modern browser are typically standard offerings, this opens up a whole world of offerings. Browsing simplespark.com gives you a sense for the IT services that are available.

Using web based services is not the same as asking the IT department to install software on corporate devices. That ultimately creates a support burden on the IT department. People don’t understand why we don’t want to buy and install their $100 application. It isn’t the $100. These are the things that IT managers hate about one-off software installs:

  • we need to reinstall that ap every time we upgrade or fix the user’s PC.
  • the help desk team members need to have knowledge of the applications when they call the user
  • in a short period of time we will get a call telling us the software version is no longer supported and we need to purchase the upgrade, convert the data and train the user

But more importantly, locally installed software is increasingly unneccessary as Software as a Service (SaaS) makes everything accessible from the browser. Our corporate QuickBase account gives our user base a simple but powerful way to meet many of their needs for dabases and basic workflow. This is why our employees have created over 7,000 applications. This is 7,000 times that employees were able to meet their own needs instad of requesting software and services from IT.

One of my favorite web-based services is Toodledo. Toodledo.com is a web based to do list (there are iPhone and iPad apps) to. I like it betther than Outlook tasks. I like the usability and there are some cool features like automatic prioritization based upon due date and prioirty. Mostly I like that I can access it anywhere without launching a Citrix session. This is important becuse I use it to manage my work tasks and my personal life too. I use the paid version because it allows me to store attachments with my tasks. But the free version is impressive.

7 thoughts on “Augmenting the IT Department’s Offerings

  1. Very true. A question for you: What kind of browser policy do you have? With Firefox following Chrome down the route of end-of-life-ing on a 3-6 month cycle (i.e. cutting security updates), are we re-entering a period of IE dominance?

    • Martin, I would say in business the IE era never ended. So many of us got tied to “web” apps that required ActiveX and other Internet Explorer specific technologies we were unable to try new browsers. In fact, upgrading was very difficult. We had to upgrade or jettison many apps before we could upgrade from IE6. At Ministry and Affinity we are just now finishing that work. In the future we need to take a new approach to only allow html5 apps (no ActiveX and no java) so we don’t run into the same problem.

      We still only support one browser, IE8.

      • I agree that HTML5 is the direction for web based applications and even websites. The current problem is IE7, IE8 and IE9 currently do not fully support all the tags in HTML5 but there are ways around that for the vendor creating the tool. I agree that IE will come around sooner then later and is still the corporate leader for browser development. Rule of thumb may be that taking your time to embrace the new technology leaves you space not to be involved when it crashes?

  2. Will,

    I enjoyed this post, and will post on HIStalk about Toodledo, and add it to the next update of TPD’s List of iPhone Apps. I agree that html5 will form the basis for web browsing going forward from here along with semantic applications to really enhance web usages.

    TPD!
    (The PACS Designer)

  3. I like the idea of being able to control my own environment mashing together the tools I need to perform my job. Some are available as SaaS some are downloads both bring richness and productivity to my development environment.

  4. Hey Will!

    It seems like even enterprise HIT will eventually become more web-based. Right now, the innovation in the medical app market is coming from the personal healthcare apps, rather than the apps targeted purely at clinicians. However, if the abundance of vendor “app stores” have anything to say about it, the innovative web apps will likely permeate the clinical practice.

    With that said, do your physicians actively seek out and try new technology (particularly web apps) for their practice? Do you think this will become increasingly important or is my vision for enterprise HIT completely off?

    • I agree that the future for application development is web and mobile. The PC is the albatross around everybody’s neck. I have said on this blog in the past that there is no server in our data center that is more complicated than the average user’s PC. They are a hodge podge of interacting, and often conflicting technologies (java, activex, silver light, blah, blah, blah). We have an army of talented people keeping them running and constantly updating and replacing them. Greater standardization and simplification is needed.

      I can’t say that I see a lot of experimenting within any particular group, including physicians, when it comes to using web apps to meet individual needs.

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