“But the bigger challenge is around people and change. As human beings we try to avoid change as much as we can. The biggest issues that we grapple with today are people issues,” he said, indicating organisational and institutional behaviour should be key areas of focus.
“Particularly in acute healthcare, what drives conditions and behaviours around IT adoption? In my experience, whether you're leading eHealth Queensland, with 1,300 staff, you should never underestimate the people issues that you’re going to deal with. And when you’re implementing technology into the business, hopefully to deliver value for business change, the people issues are typically the ones that are not well dealt with.”
In the case of the IT disaster that was the Queensland Payroll health system, he said one of the contributing factors was the fact the customer didn’t properly articulate what they wanted as an outcome from the system.
“It is all very easy in traditional IT procurement to be thinking about the functions and the checklist, and you can tender out. Vendors will spend a lot of money trying to comply with that checklist, but it doesn’t really talk to what outcomes - and inputs and outcomes are often quite different.”
Instead, Thatcher said the industry needs to step up and change the way it thinks about IT and business outcomes - and weave it more into the conversation.
“The things I was trying to drive at Queensland Health was a co-design procurement methodology, whereby we didn’t talk in our tender documents so much about what inputs we wanted or what functions we wanted (or capability), but we talked much more about outcomes. What outcomes did we want? And we invited the industry and the vendor community to partner with us to actually design them to actually get those outcomes.”
On the implementation front, Thatcher said it all boils down to ‘proving and delivering’ outcomes.
“When you’re implementing a new piece of technology, whether it is cloud or SaaS or a new ERP system or HR system, you really need to focus on what the new business processes look like from end-to-end. And you have to fully describe those.
"The software is just the enabler on those, and you want the software to be the enabler, but you really have to design what it’s going to look like. What outcomes do we want for our customers or stakeholders? And I don’t think we do enough of that in the industry.”
Asked what executives should make a priority when considering transformational change, Thatcher said complex organisations, entities like Queensland Health, for example, need to do an IT asset risk assessment from the outset that will reveal and unlock current and future asset value.
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