With 2020 coming to a close (let’s pause for a collective sigh of relief), it is time to consider how your hospital or health system can prepare for the year ahead. With any luck, the anticipated COVID-19 vaccine will help mitigate further disruptions caused by the pandemic and provide line of sight to some form of “normalcy.” However, it’s crucial that healthcare organizations ignore the appeal of business as usual, and instead, turn lessons they’ve learned into actionable insights. For many organizations, this will entail improving the resiliency of their IT infrastructure through adoption of enterprise content management (ECM).
Investing in ECM through the purchase of document management and imaging systems is a decision that needs to be considered at the onset of annual budgeting discussions. Depending on the organization, a formal cost analysis and business proposal may be necessary to take on the scope of such an investment. As your executive team considers their plan for 2021, there’s no better time to build out a business case. Provided below are steps to help you prepare and budget for ECM next year.
- Establish a support network: The credibility and success of a business proposal depends on your ability to develop an effective support network of people who believe in the value of ECM. They should also be able to assist you in assessing risks, determining costs, evaluating benefits, and providing beneficial feedback. Your contacts should possess keen business sense and extensive knowledge of not just their specialization, but the broader healthcare enterprise as well.
- Evaluate the costs: To build the proper foundation, you will need to collect and analyze data to identify financial risks and returns. This includes a close evaluation of start-up and recurring costs. Beyond monetary considerations, be aware of any additional expenditures that an ECM investment may incur, such as additional labor hours or any reassignments of resources.
- Assess the rewards and risks: Even good investments come with some level of risk. To make a valid decision, executives need to be mindful of both the positives and negatives. Articulating rewards and risks does not always require a detailed financial analysis. In fact, you can often validate them through case studies, industry survey reports, and even anecdotal evidence and testimonies provided by similar organizations.
- Calculate the return on investment (ROI): In the simplest of terms, ROI can be expressed as the gain or loss generated on an investment relative to expenditures. While ECM offers numerous benefits and advantages, it should not be considered a source for revenue. Instead, it should be positioned as a low-yield, long-term investment. To convey ROI accurately, it is critical to provide a 5- to 10-year allowable payback period.
- Perform a SWOT analysis: Evaluating the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) can create one of the strongest arguments for any business. By conducting this exercise, you can highlight how ECM plays to your organization’s strengths, while simultaneously filling in any gaps or weaknesses, particularly any issues identified amidst the pandemic response.
- Develop a proposal: Once all the data, financials, and supporting research are gathered, you can construct a formal business proposal for executive leadership. Throughout development, it is critical to maintain a grounded perspective with concrete and measurable information. Do not let lofty ambitions or expectations lacking demonstrable data dilute the project plan. Allow your efforts, research, and the proven benefits of ECM sell themselves.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it should be to never undervalue the resilience of IT systems when it comes to crisis response situations. By taking the initiative to budget and prepare for ECM in 2021, you can ensure that your organization is better equipped for future disruptions.
To learn more about researching and developing a strong ECM business proposal for executive leadership, download our latest white paper, “Developing a Business Proposal for Enterprise Content Management.”