Lost in translation: Why complex EDMS projects often miss the mark

Lost in translation: Why complex EDMS projects often miss the mark

by David Yuhas |
May 31, 2019 |
Misalignment of teams and failure to meet project goals and timelines are an all-too-common problem with big technology projects. Many life sciences businesses have gone through this experience when deploying, migrating, and managing Electronic Document Management Systems (EDMS) and the ancillary systems they support.
Typically, teams or committees are created across different business units and geographies, each with different goals and expectations.

The result can be a budget blow-out, failure to harmonize on common processes, and projects that drag on far longer than they should. And in almost every instance, the finger of blame is pointed at the business owner not really knowing what they want. After all, the other teams – Usually IT and Quality – are following well-established processes. They’ve carried out similar projects countless times. The suggestion is that it’s the business owners who hold up their own project.

That’s simply not true. The business owners know what they need from their EDMS and other systems. The problem is that most are engaging in these types of projects for the first time. It’s not that they don’t know what they want; it’s just that they aren’t as experienced in knowing where to start and what is critical at any given time. And so, their goals and objectives can sometimes get lost in translation.

To address or limit these challenges, business owners need to take a step back. Rather than thinking about EDMS as a technology project, they need to start by thinking of it as a business objective. The first step is to gather the knowledge that will be needed to define specific business-focused expectations within the context of detailed milestones. That typically involves reaching out across departmental lines and collaborating with other teams and documenting the expectations and outcomes.

However, given that the business owner has little, if any, experience in such projects, the question is where do they gather the necessary knowledge?

Alignment is key

In the past, this may have been easier. This expertise existed in-house and within the functional units. These complex systems were designed, managed, built, and modified by the people who were using it, meaning the scientists, regulatory staff, and Quality departments utilizing these systems. Each functional unit had its own technology specialists managing those systems.

Since that model no longer exists, business owners need to find a translator to help them define their specific needs, objectives and milestones and provide the necessary tips and techniques to ensure success. Today, that expertise is unlikely to exist in-house. Rather, the expertise required to translate requirements into practical, aligned and harmonized solutions now reside with partner organizations. They’ve implemented and managed these types of projects countless times – internally and externally – and they know what is needed to successfully deploy a system that meets the business need. Further, really good partner organizations have the expertise to help the business implement best-practices into their processes with the least disruption during the transition period. They also supply and help enforce the time-tested processes and implementation tools to ensure the project goes to plan.

It’s evident that the cost to the business of poorly managed EDMS implementation projects is high. So, finding an accomplished partner or “translator” – someone who can ensure that everyone is in sync and proceeding at the same rate and based on the same expectations – is crucial for both the business and the users who depend on EDMS systems and Software tools.

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