3 Health IT Deadline Rules

On Time and Under Budget...

3 Rules to Ensure Your Projects Finish on Time.

Finishing projects on time. Nothing feels better.  In health IT, a typical EHR missed go-live costs $100,000 or more per month – more or less for other areas. 3 Health IT deadline rules can save the day.

As a leader, there are three rules that create terrific team accountability… and can prevent you from being blindsided by missed deadlines. Nothing beats “On Time and On Budget.” I make these rules very clear whenever someone new joins my team.

Rule #1:  “Never Miss a Deadline.”

Nothing erodes your reputation like missing a deadline.  It chips away at your good name – “But you said it would be done (implemented, live) by December 31st?” It implies you haven’t planned or managed well.  More importantly it shouts “permission granted” to miss the next deadline.

I think it’s important to make every deadline… and make the missed deadline the exception – not the rule.

Rule #2:  “If You Think You Aren’t Going to Make the Deadline – ESCALATE!”

There is always someone on the team who is aware (often, before the leader) that the project is going off the rail.  In Florida, we may be shut down for a hurricane… or a critical decision hasn’t been made yet, or a component is overdue.  Yes, there are legitimate reasons that a project is falling behind. Other risks are not so obvious…

Deadline risk should elicit escalation – letting the appropriate leader (project manager, executive sponsor) know that the timeline’s at risk.  The leader should then lead – Do I add resources?  Are there barriers I need to remove? Does the timeline need readjusted?  Remove obstacles - a core responsibility of leadership.

However, without a clear rule in place, some team members may fail to escalate. Something that could have been fixed, gets hidden, and the deadline is missed. You must create an environment where you never “kill the messenger” during the process of escalation.

Rule #3: “Never Conceal a Missed Deadline”

There is a cardinal sin on this topic – Never let the executive leader find out, after the deadline, that the team missed the deadline (without escalation).  If the team understands the two prior rules, breaking rule #3 violates trusts and puts a serious accountability cloud over everyone involved.

Consider the power of communicating the three rules and standing by them… You’re likely to meet more deadlines and enhance you and your team’s reputation for effectiveness. Be known for “On Time and On Budget.” You don’t have to credit the 3 health IT deadline rules. You can have all the credit.

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