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Is a traditional ERP really what you need?

October 14, 2019 By Chuck Whinney

What functionality should you look for in an ERP?

It’s time to buy yet another piece of technology to support your health system's ever-growing ecosystem. Yet, buying technology is not always easy, whether it’s the smart home device to make your personal life easier or a team-oriented technology to improve communications. Something that’s supposed to simplify life and make it more straightforward becomes a Melville-like journey with no white whale on the horizon.

You’re in healthcare, so your work life couldn’t be more complex. The question is: What is your approach to the complexity you face when purchasing new technology? There are many critical areas that have tremendous impact on your business and mission. Are you evaluating technology based on those precarious factors? How are you addressing clinical integration? Are you planning on integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI), considering the Internet of Things (IoT), and how data will or will not be used?

The list goes on and on, not to mention the people aspect of it all. Are you evaluating and questioning if your solutions impact clinical staff or if they can enable your clinicians to improve performance and patient care?

It always helps to have a checklist of shorts when identifying potential industry partners for your health system. For a traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, you’re concerned with how it will impact supply chain, human resources (HR), and finance, right? Well, what about everything in-between? Are the technologies you’re considering focused on making patient care better? Are those potential partners creating healthcare focused solutions that will evolve as the industry evolves?

At the end of the day, is it really an ERP that you want, or do you want a clinically connected healthcare operations platform on which to build your ever-changing patient-centered network? Below are important questions you should ask when you’re identifying the needs you have and how a traditional ERP can help—or not.


As your business grows and your footprint expands, the movement of materials becomes more crucial. How will you deal with inventory control and optimization? What about vital recall management details? Here are key questions to ask about supply chain functionality:

Mobile Par and Cycle, Receiving and Delivery
How many customers are live and using this functionality? Is full functionality available on the hand-held device compared to functionality in the application?

Inventory Control
Do you have the functionality to track consignment and if so, at what level?

Inventory Optimization
Do you have a science-driven inventory optimization engine with proven success in health systems to reduce inventory expenses, reduce stockouts, reduce par locations costs, and support supply chain staff to more efficiently manage inventory?

Contract Management
Do you have functionality to manage tiers, rebates, and other healthcare specific needs?

Recall Management
Do you have the functionality to manage, track, and report on product and equipment recalls?

Supplier Portal
Do you have the functionality to interact with vendors and supplier through a portal?

Enterprise Asset Management
Do you have the functionality to manage and track equipment, maintain PM’s and work orders and report on all assets?

Item Lifecycle Management
Do you have the functionality to support and automate product conversions?


Healthcare finance is a role that changes daily. Your focus as a finance executive is supporting and embedding finance in more and more areas across the health system. The systems and solutions you choose have never been more important. From expenses, revenues, savings, billing, payments, and more—is your team empowered to improve results across the board?

Following are vital questions that impact finance:

Cost Accounting
Do you have delivered and fully managed integration with EHR patient revenue and patient refunds? Do you have an embedded activity-based cost accounting within your core finance solution?

Global Ledger
Do you have the functionality to write a journal entry and modify a department hierarchy and see the results on a P/L in real time?

Grants and Projects
How does your grant solution help principle investigators manage the research process?

Finance Analytics
Can you formally define the metadata of your dimensions or attributes for data governance purposes? Does that categorization flow through into all sub-ledgers including the supply chain?


As a modern HR professional, you need innovative technology and software solutions to support your daily grind. Are you able to streamline workforce processes and elevate experiences? Are your nurses happy and engaged? Are the clinicians, driving patient experiences, empowered to make decisions?

Consider the below questions as you think about the tools you need to follow through on daily tasks:

Human Resources-Core
Do you have competency checklists available for preceptors or mentors to track an employee’s completion of competencies and track development activities, skills, and career plans?

Workforce Management
How does your workforce management software utilize clinical and employee data to ensure scheduling is best aligned to caregiver skill set and patient need?

Talent Management
What type of proven behavioral predictive analytics tools are available to ensure position and culture fit with the employee and then used to determine future fit positions as part of career development and succession planning, with suggested learning based on behavioral gaps?

How does payroll functionality handle special pay practices healthcare is notorious for? For example, a night nurse on ICU hired before 1999 that is part of a bargaining union and every other Tuesday gets an additional $100 per shift.

Human Resources-Core
Do you manage non-employee resources like employee resources? Volunteers, contractors, service dogs, and similar? Can you maintain their credentials, required vaccinations, and recruiting—and create a separate onboarding process with required forms and activities specific to their resource type? Do you have a scientist that works with the client to determine flight risk based on indicators specific to their client’s organization and using science and data, or is it an out of the box solution? If an employee is determined to be a flight risk is the manager given suggested activities? How are those suggested activities created?

Don’t let the conventional definition of ERP limit you. It’s time to break the mold on traditional ERP and demand more from your operational and administrative systems.

As you decide on a technology partner, think about what industries they’re focused on—are they creating healthcare-specific solutions? Are they creating a platform that connects the business of healthcare with the mission of healthcare? Do they have the same desire to make patient care better? Are they positioned to handle the complexities of your health system?

– Chuck Whinney, Sr. Director, Infor Healthcare

Filed Under
  • Healthcare
  • Healthcare
  • CloudSuite Healthcare
  • Cloverleaf Integration Suite for clinical interoperability
  • Worldwide
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