4 Things To Do Before Jumping Into Your Next Software Build

By Laura Alabed-Olsson, Director of Marketing, PointClear Solutions
Twitter: @PointClearHIT

Digital health tools – from mobile and web-based apps to enterprise solutions – have the power to increase patient engagement, improve clinical outcomes, create operational efficiencies, and so much more. Yet, sadly, many healthcare organizations build (or buy) the tool they think they need, only to discover later that their solution isn’t the right solution – either partially or (gasp!) entirely.

While urgent needs and tight budgets may have you feeling like you need to make a quick decision and just get something “up and running,” approaching your next software build with a well-thought-out strategy will almost certainly save you time, money, and frustration over the long term.

The digital strategy experts at PointClear Solutions suggest beginning with these four steps.

  1. Engage the right people from the beginning. In addition to an executive sponsor to champion your project at the highest level of your organization, you’ll want to designate a project manager (PM) – someone responsible for managing project timelines, budget, needs, resources, communications, and deliverables. You’ll also want an appropriate number of internal subject matter experts (from within IT and beyond) available to provide valuable insight into their respective areas of your business. For example, if you’re developing an app to facilitate payment for or financing of medical care, consider bringing a back-office administrator and patient advocate onto the project team. (Note: If you’re working with a consulting partner to design and develop your software, much of the PM’s work will be off-loaded. In these situations, your PM becomes more of a project owner (PO) – serving as the primary point of contact for your consultant; managing internal stakeholder expectations; and facilitating decision making, as needed.)
  2. Understand what you want to accomplish with your new technology – and your budget and timeline for getting there. Begin by clearly defining the scope of your project – what is in and what is out, what is essential and what would be nice to have, and what needs to be delivered when (and for what cost). All major stakeholders and project team members need to be aligned on this, so as to prevent frustration, disappointment, delays, and costly reworks. It’s also important to take this time to look beyond the build itself and develop a 1-3 year plan for the solution. This includes how it will scale when successful; who will monitor and maintain it; and the total cost of ownership (TCO) as it moves from the “sprint” activities of the build to the “marathon” activities of support and evolution.
  3. Have a clear understanding of your users’ needs. Oftentimes, what we think a user wants is very different from what they actually desire from a software solution. Making user research and the development of user personas a part of your process ensures your users’ goals, behaviors, pain points, and typical tasks are front and center throughout the design and development process. Create a user experience that’s spot on and you’re more likely to get and keep users over the long term. Miss the mark and you’re putting relationships (i.e. business) at risk.
  4. Determine the technology and architecture required to support your product. One of the first things you’ll need to determine is whether you want/need a native app, a web app, or a hybrid app. Your choice will determine how your solution is developed and updated, and how users interact with it. Equally important are decisions made to support security, performance, and the ability to scale your software over time.

Yes, digital health tools can help support your organization’s success in many ways, if they’re designed and built with a strategy first mindset. Do you need help getting your next software project off the ground? We can help.

This article was originally published on PointClear Solutions and is republished here with permission.