A day in the life – Our deployment and implementation team

Article posted on 22nd March 2019

Health and social care

Even with up to 20 projects on the go at once, our deployment and implementation team make sure they go the extra mile to support customers and meet their needs.

To get an idea of how the team manages their more extensive projects, we spoke to senior project manager, Jan Fairhurst, and two project management officers (PMOs) - Zoe Sparling and Steve West. With four project managers and five project management officers in total, the deployment and implementation team can handle a number of projects at the same time – and often do. “Every day is different, we’re all working on multiple projects,” says Zoe.

The right people for the job

The team have a range of experiences and skills between them, and they understand how to use their strengths to benefit both themselves and their customers. “We all bring different talents,” explains Steve, and it’s essential that the team makes the most of these abilities on each project.

Different members of the team have specialist knowledge of certain products, making them ‘product champions’. The team can easily identify who’s best suited to which products or projects and know who the best person to turn to for advice on specific products is. The team also know how important it is to share their knowledge so that everyone understands what’s happening. “We try to cross-skill as much as possible” explains Jan, “that way we can ensure that everyone has experience and knowledge with different products and solutions, which makes the team better-rounded.”

Making deployment as seamless as possible

As a line manager to five PMOs, its Jan’s job to ensure that project delivery runs smoothly. With over 60 products and services to deploy and manage, it’s no easy task, but Jan thrives on it. “We try to make the process as seamless as we can and try to make sure the client does as little as possible, as we know how busy they are,” she explains. With all the different requirements that each customer has, no two projects are the same. There’s no place for a one-size fits all approach. Using her knowledge of the products and the skills of her team, Jan can allocate tasks appropriately to ensure the best outcome.  

“I always enjoy the variety of projects we get. You never know what will come through the door.”

Jan Fairhurst, senior project manager, Egton

Organising the variety

Because the team handle so many projects at once, and because their projects are often very different to one another “we don’t tend to have a set routine,” explains Zoe. Each member of the team has meetings to attend and phone calls to make, so it isn’t possible to do the same things at the same times. But, with weekly meetings to assess workload and project allocation, alongside regular phone calls and meetings with customers, the team can ensure each project runs as planned.

Their weekly debrief on a Friday helps the team assess what stage each project is at. It also creates a chance to look forward to how they can work together to achieve the best deployment results in the following week. It’s by pulling together and continuing their support for each other that they get the job done.  

Working together to support the whole team

When there are so many projects going on it’s important to make sure that everyone is supported so that they can do their job to the best potential. Steve explains that this is one of his favourite things about the team, “The team’s great, and everyone’s really supportive. There’s not a day where someone isn’t tapping on your shoulder to see if you’re alright.”  

“My team’s fantastic. We’re like a little family.”

Zoe Sparling, project management officer, Egton

Working together as a team is a crucial part of every project. Every day starts with working through calendars to identify which tasks need prioritising. New projects are allocated based on each PMOs workload to make sure everyone has an equal amount of work. “We split jobs and keep an eye on each other,” explains Steve, which helps to keep the team working to their best as no individual is working on too much at any one time.

Communication is key

From communicating amongst themselves to keeping up to date with overarching organisations and the individual practices that sit underneath them, everyone needs to be involved for a project to run smoothly. Dealing with such a variety of customers means that communicating is key to understanding what they need and delivering on that.

This is especially true with large projects such as a recent deployment of Patient Check-in screens across Greater Manchester. Not only did our team need to communicate with Greater Manchester Shared Services (GMSS) to implement the project, they had to work closely with the individual practices too. “We had to find out what the individual and bespoke needs of each practice were,” explains Steve. This included organising training on installation day working around practice requirements during the installation.

Keeping disruption at a minimum

The team know that to continue delivering high-quality care to their patients, the practice needs to be up and running as much as possible. That’s why “We work to keep disruption to a minimal level and aim to ensure that everything’s done on time,” explains Jan. This is something which can only be achieved with effective communication between teams.

“As soon as a problem comes in, we react straight away. The customer comes first.” 

Zoe Sparling, project management officer, Egton

Daily catch-ups and regular phone calls and emails mean that both our deployment and implementation team and the customer knows exactly what’s happening, where and when. It’s this constant communication that allows the team to tackle any potential issues before they become problems. For example, during the deployment of our Patient Check-in screens across Manchester, the engineer ran out of brackets. Because of the great communication between the team and the site, we were able to source more brackets from another supplier so that the engineer could continue the fittings the very same day.

Looking back to move forward

As a project comes to an end, the team gets together for a ‘lessons learnt’ session. “We’re constantly recording the lessons we’ve learnt on projects,” explains Jan, “we speak to individual practices and learn from the feedback they give us.” It’s a crucial part of any project and allows the team to continually improve the service they provide to ensure that future customers receive the best support during their projects.

It’s really important that the team signify the end of their role in a project and hand the reins over to the customer and our support teams. “If we feel that the project went really well, we have a little group celebration,” says Steve. It’s just another way of bringing the team closer together, acknowledging and celebrating the work that they do to support customers in the early stages of their digital transformation.

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