Problem: Aging legacy system and lack of flexibility making backend operations difficult to manage in light of growing demands
Solution: Complete ERP overhaul using Oracle including finance, supply chain and procurement and HR systems
Benefit: Better integration across systems, modern industry-standard practices in place providing opportunities for staff to be able to deliver improved process performance
Public Sector organizations' IT systems can be a thorny issue to address, often large, complex and limited by legacy issues, they usually function in a best-effort manner that leaves users pining for something better. And often if they work, they are best left untouched.
In the case of the Hospital Authority (HA) of Hong Kong, its Chief Executive and key leaders in Finance and IT decided to take the bull by its horns and replace core systems in a complete overhaul of finance, procurement and HR.
"The previous system was simply antiquated and needed replacing," said Nancy Tse, CFO at the Hospital Authority. "The old systems were fragmented, increasingly difficult to manage and problematic in getting quality information flow."
The process actually began in 2005 when the Chief Executive at that time decided a high priority had to be placed on upgrading the core non-clinical systems at HA. This in itself was a bold move as medical systems that directly relate to patient care typically receive the greater priority. But with the help of Gartner who worked with HA to form a strong business case, the project was approved with funding supported by the government.
The HA currently manages a head office, 41 public hospitals and institutions, 47 specialist outpatient clinics and 74 general outpatient clinics. It employs 59,000 full-time equivalent staff and for 2011 to 2012 the HA's recurrent expenditure budget, net of income, was HK$36 billion.
According to Phil Lansley, chief manager (Non-Clinical Systems) who project-managed the implementation at the Hospital Authority, the team went on a global search for possible systems and examples of projects to learn from.
At that time HA had adopted a policy of using packaged software systems for all non-clinical operations and its search ended with the selection of Oracle for the three key modules to be implemented.
Based on an assessment of risks the project was carried out in phases. From 2007 the supply chain and financial modules were implemented in three stages over a 28 month period culminating in the HA Head Office and all seven hospital clusters being placed on the new systems by April 2009. Meanwhile the HR system was implemented in a "big-bang" approach going live in August 2010--as analysis showed that it would be more complex and risky to have the legacy system and new system running at the same time.
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