Bridging the Expectation Gap in Health IT Outsourcing

Shouldn’t healthcare IT outsourcing make your job easier, not harder? Aren’t IT partners supposed to help you deliver software on time, on budget, and in line with client expectations?

Yes, and yes—in theory. In practice, it’s a different story.

Whether you’re an IT manager or a leader at an independent software vendor (ISV), you’ve probably struggled with the reality of IT outsourcing partners that didn’t deliver on the expectations you had when you went into the project.

It’s not that they misrepresented themselves. It’s not that they cheated you. It’s not that they were incompetent. But the fact remains, they didn’t meet expectations.

Why Outsourcing Agreements Often Fail

When an IT development partnership works well, it’s like a dream come true. You start off with the skills and knowledge of your current development team. You mix in the skills and knowledge of your IT partner. You stir vigorously and bake. It’s a recipe for success.

But it’s just as likely that reaching out to an outsourcing development company to provide additional technical skills and resources will introduce more problems than it solves.

Why? Because of something we call the “expectation gap.” We can illustrate this concept with a simple diagram:


As you can see, the typical outsourcing development company provides a core solution, or set of technical services. But your firm or department will probably enter into an outsourcing agreement expecting more than that—even if it wasn’t explicitly promised by your partner. This creates an expectation gap. Far beyond the solution you expect is the ideal solution—the solution you really need, whether you realize it or not.

Let’s take a look at what IT partners typically offer in their core solution and compare it to what you and your peers most commonly expect.

The “Core” Healthcare IT Outsourcing Solution

Your ISV or healthcare product team will begin every project by outlining a black-and-white set of deliverables and placing them in your Statement of Work. This is a key step in any software development project.

Unfortunately, many IT outsourcing partners will take one look at those requirements and say, “Ah—they’re writing Java software, so they need Java developers to help crank out code.” They will then offer you a core solution that’s basically a Java development team tasked with contributing technical skills and expertise to your project.

Well, extra developers are a good thing—and talented extra developers are a great thing. But for most projects, you need more than just extra bodies who can code.

Finding the Solution You Expect—and Deserve

If you had your way, you’d only hire extra developers who have experience in the healthcare industry, a deep understanding of regulatory requirements, and a working knowledge of industry-specific data management. That way, you wouldn’t have to burn precious time bringing your partners up to speed on the way your industry works.

It’s entirely possible that you’ve headed into previous outsourcing agreements expecting your new partner to deliver this level of expertise—and come away sorely disappointed. Don’t settle for extra coders. Keep looking for a partner who has a track record of helping organizations like yours.

In our next article, we’ll talk about the consequences of a “poor-fit” IT partner—and how you can avoid them. To get the full story, download a free article from Vicert.

Digital Health Team

Author: Digital Health Team

Developers and Management united represent our DH Team.
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