Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Life may not improve with a money tree, but it sure would help

From my home to the workplace to social events, I continue to hear about the need to reduce expenses.

As I discussed in a previous blog, the past 20 years that I have been in healthcare, we have always looked to delivering quality care in a more cost-effective way. I am always interested in wondering what we will discuss next year that we "forgot" to reduce this year. That challenge never seems to end.

In our own organization we have brought in a group that looked at our expense structure compared to similar organizations across the country. Essentially it served as a financial improvement performance initiative. Their focus on costs stayed within the following guiding principles:

· Improve quality, customer service and employee engagement
· Decrease cost, waste and redundancy
· Ensure that reduction initiatives are sustainable and not abandoned over time

The sustainability is always key as anyone could reduce costs short term. But to ensure that the other principles are met, more thought needs to go into the assessment and implementation.
I am very pleased to see that our system has 21 teams looking at ways to achieve these opportunities. While there is never an end point in our professional or personal lives (except as Jane aka #6 in my office states, "Yes, there is. Retirement and death."), it is great to see so many on board (some with encouragement, of course) to advance our organization.

The groups will develop business cases and implementation plans aimed at capturing the identified cost reduction opportunities for the focus area teams. Here is a brief description of the 4 roles involved:

Accountable Leader: (Member of the Steering Committee)
· Accountable for driving each functional area to a plan to achieve outcomes
· Removes barriers to making progress
· Drives acceptance across functions and business units

Team Lead:
· Primary responsibility for designing the business case and implementation plan to achieve the targeted outcome
· Identifies and completes additional analysis as required to identify tactics for improvement
· Drives day-to-day activities for project team
· Monitors the progress of the team and assists in resolving bottlenecks and barriers
· Communicates regularly with the Accountable Leader to ensure buy-in and enlist support

Team Member:
· Represents functional area / business unit; contributes subject matter expertise and/or customer perspective
· Responsible for direct support in the development of the business case and implementation plan

Project Management Office:
· Accountable to Project Sponsor and Steering Committee for supervising activities and progress of each focus area team
· Monitors the progress of the focus area teams and assists in resolving bottlenecks and barriers to achieving desired outcomes
· Communicates regularly with Project Sponsor and Steering Committee on the progress of teams

Back to my home life...there is no question that I try to follow the same principles at home. How many of you have your quarterly "State of the Union" meeting with your spouse or significant other? I know that I am not the only one.

I look forward to hearing some similar initiatives in your professional and personal lives.

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