If you are an IT manager, director, or even a CIO, an interesting exercise is to see who meets with the hospital departmental directors and VPs, and how often? Another interesting question is what do they discuss?
While business relationship management is an old technique virtual roundtables of other industries, it is new to health care. Business relationship managers are often referred to as IT liaisons. In order to bring the role of an IT liaison to your organization, one must follow the old mantra of form then structure. The IT liaisons need to be placed at the organizations location. For example, they should not be offsite away from the customers. These individuals can be given prestigious titles – I personally like Site Directors. The role needs to report IT, but should have a dotted line to the business executive. The role should also be fully aware of all project activity concerning their location and be able to advocate for project work within IT Governance. The key item here is that this role owns the business relationship – this fact needs to be understood within IT. The individual in this role should be approved by both the business executive and the CIO. This person should be a great communicator – skilled at listening, understanding, and negotiating. They should be comfortable with technology and the health care business.
Here are some sure fire flags that you may need to consider formalizing the role of IT Liaison:
We are too busy to meet – When polling your leadership team, if you see the response we are just too busy to meet with our customers. It is time to make customer service a priority, and find out why it is not.
A Staff member meets with the CXO – If you uncover that your clinical strategy is being communicated by a staff member, you have a problem. A staff member is not able to remove the same obstacles as a director, and also not given the same authority to act. This situation is not setting the staff member up for success, or giving the relationship the proper amount of respect.
The liaison meetings occur quarterly – These meeting should be at most a monthly meeting. My personal experience is that weekly when necessary, but bi-weekly seems sufficient. For yearly and quarterly meetings, there is too much lost ground.
An IT leader meets with a business staff member – Here the problem is that the staff member is not set up for success, and the business doesn’t give the relationship the proper amount of respect. This structure is too far in the weeds and needs to be reviewed.
Business Executives don’t know who their liaison – This problem is identified in the search until you hear what you want. If you see that occurring, then it is time for a liaison structure. Another key sign if business executives mention they don’t know who to work with from IT.