Patients in New England rely on the health care system of highly qualified physicians, specialists, and other providers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. In addition to primary care services at local community practices, Dartmouth-Hitchcock patients have access to specialists in almost every area of medicine, as well as world-class research at the Dartmouth Medical School and centers such as the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. With more than 6,500 employees, a number of locations, and a broad mandate, managers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock are responsible for a steady and diverse stream of thousands of projects at any given time.
The Need for Deeper Insight to Meet Deadlines
Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s web content manager, Ryan Newswanger, understands the challenge of managing multiple projects simultaneously across the entire healthcare system. In his role, Newswanger supervises eight content producers, three full-time developers, and dozens of web projects. Ryan’s group began using a content management system and basic project management software to keep track of the various activities in his group. He used this software to manage people’s task lists; however, he quickly realized deeper insights were needed into the entire scope of the projects.
“I lived in constant fear we would miss deadlines and worried whether we actually had the resources to get the work completed on time,” said Newswanger. “One day I realized we had eight major launches in the pipeline and I knew we risked failure if we didn’t get a better solution in place.”
Newswanger’s team decided to use LiquidPlanner during this critical phase to give them more control over their projects. Within a period of four months, the entire team was using the solution to seamlessly track their time, assign and monitor tasks, and check progress against projects. LiquidPlanner immediately provided Newswanger with the necessary insight to determine which deadlines would be met or missed based on the allocated resources.
“LiquidPlanner allowed me to oversee a project more than four months out and anticipate problems well ahead of time,” Newswanger said. “The foreboding feeling around my projects was gone because I had so much more insight and control. Now, when a deadline was no longer feasible, I would simply adjust the scope or add more staff as needed.”
Fostering a Whole New Way of Working
LiquidPlanner has been essential for resource allocation on Newswanger’s team. Recently, Newswanger put together a proposal for a significant intranet project. Using LiquidPlanner, he laid out the entire project and assigned the tasks to various team members. When he presented the proposal to his managers, he showed the exact project milestones and visually demonstrated that the project could be completed with four employees, but not with two. Because of this insight, his managers provided all the resources required for the project to meet the proposed deadlines. During the course of the project, team members referenced their prioritized list of tasks to ensure they were focused on the right priorities. Newswanger relied heavily on LiquidPlanner’s project tracking features to monitor progress. Although the intranet project was very complicated, there were no unforeseen problems along the way because each contributor knew exactly what they needed to deliver and when each task was due.
Previously, a bottleneck existed where project contributors would need to meet with Newswanger to get the information and relevant documents before they could begin their next assignment. Using LiquidPlanner, all the information to help employees move seamlessly from one task to the next is immediately available to them. In many cases, work is happening to drive the project to completion without Newswanger needing to know all the details. This has reduced the number of meetings in the web content group and changed the tone of the meetings Newswanger has with his direct reports. Now, he can focus on managing his staff and their overall professional development, rather than checking on the status of specific tasks.
The project management process for the web content management team at Dartmouth-Hitchcock has dramatically improved, thanks to LiquidPlanner. Newswanger relies on LiquidPlanner to give him deeper insights into the progress of each project and to make forecasts several months or even years out. Other groups at Dartmouth-Hitchcock have noticed Newswanger’s success, and are exploring using LiquidPlanner to improve the management of other technical projects.
Benefits of LiquidPlanner at Dartmouth-Hitchcock:
- Provides deeper insight into a team’s ability to meet specific deadlines and allows managers to easily make adjustments in resource allocation.
- Allows team members to be more self-sufficient. Task priority makes it clear what they should be working on, while supporting documentation and communications are always at their fingertips on the task’s Edit Panel.
- Creates a rich framework for forecasting major project milestones and necessary resources, making it easier to present project requirements to leadership team.
- Improves ability to manage changes in timing and scope of project, anticipating problems ahead of time.