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How project management best practices drive the ROI of one EHR system

CIO Jamie Gianna drove big revenue increases by carefully applying project management best practices to a formerly DOA EHR system project.

Our IT Leadership Awards recognize the contributions and innovations of IT professionals in midmarket companies. We sent out a call for individuals to be nominated who have excelled in six categories, one of which is business harmonization. The Business Harmonization Award recognizes a leader whose initiative has promoted business goals and automation efficiency, who shows exceptional business savvy, and who works toward increasing revenue and maintaining or improving customer satisfaction.

When CIO Jamie Gianna joined COMHAR (Community Organization for Mental Health and Retardation) Inc. in 2008, he came face-to-face with an electronic health record (EHR) system project that had been stalled for two years. By breaking down silos and revitalizing internal groups, he brought the EHR system implementation project back from the dead in just 15 months. Through the use of formal project management methods and project management best practices, he increased on-time delivery to 100% and slashed over-budget and out-of-scope requests. Most importantly, he was able to rally COMHAR's strategic leaders to support these common goals and project management best practices.

Jamie GiannaJamie Gianna

With the EHR system in place, COMHAR increased billings by 25%, which resulted in a cash flow increase of $6 million per month from Gianna's innovative revenue and pay-cycle management practices. His contribution with the EHR system led to "one of COMHAR's best-performing years ever," according to his nomination. His stellar leadership, consistent team mentoring and ability to build internal partner relationships around project management best practices have earned him a place as a finalist in the 2012 IT Leadership Awards.

Official job title: CIO

Revenue: $75 million and growing

Number of employees: We are a workforce of 750-plus.

Great combination of business and technical leadership. Focus on business value -- revenue generation in addition to cost savings. Changed the way technology is perceived. IT Leadership Awards judges

Number of years in IT: More than 27 years -- back when Lincoln used punch cards and COBOL

Educational background: MBA, University of Maryland University College; M.S., Health Care Administration, University of Maryland University College; B.S., Leadership, Northeastern University; MIS, Pace University

First job: I was an inventory control supervisor at a high-end specialty retailer.

What's the best advice you've ever received?
I was living in New York City many years ago, and someone on the subway told me, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Then he got off at Times Square. I never saw him again, so I'll attribute the quote to its author, Lao-tzu.

What is your alter-ego career?
If I weren't a CIO, I would be a national park ranger at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. And I'd do it for free. I've been to Yellowstone several times, and it still amazes me.

An excerpt from Gianna's nomination

As a leader, Jamie is as authentic as they come. He was able to produce exceptional results with vigor, tenacity, self-confidence, and an ethical, compliance-based stance that nurtures respect and supports healthy growth and profit.

He serves as "the missing link," where the CIO must simultaneously steer operations, workforce, and technology to better achieve customer/client satisfaction. He blends a unique set of executive competencies that focus on the organizational mission, vision and values challenging the "we have always done it this way" mentality.

What are you currently reading?
I read multiple books at a time; my reading list currently contains two books: The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho; and Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy, by Joan Magretta.

Describe the best technology decision you ever made.
Giving my wife the remote. Seriously, moving one of our Tier 1 mission-critical applications from the data center and into the cloud as Software as a Service. We reaped a huge cost savings, and gained better efficiencies across the organization.

What's the biggest challenge you face in IT today?
Hiring qualified staff that has the right stuff: technology and business acumen.

What's your prediction for the next big technology?
Start preparing for the disruptive trifecta of mobility, cloud and social media technologies. What we're experiencing now is just the tip of the iceberg.

What was your best career move?
My best career move was moving into the health care field. It's a very powerful feeling, knowing that at the end of every day I'm helping to solve some of humanity's problems.

Describe your biggest career influence.
Coffee and my wife -- she keeps me going strong and makes me want to be the best I can be, while the coffee just tastes good.

What is the biggest problem you see with corporate cultures today?
Two challenges affect corporate cultures: first, lost leadership, and second, not having the correct strategy in place. Leadership is no longer unidirectional or "top down"; it should flow across the organization wherever needed. Second, you must not only have a sound strategy in place but also be able to execute it flawlessly. These are the linchpins to being successful and staying competitive.

What's your advice for IT pros coming up the ranks?
Here are the three pieces of advice I give all the time:

  1. Get a business degree. Technology has become so consumerized and ubiquitous in the workplace that you need to speak the language of business to find those opportunities which allow technology to deliver value.
  2. Become as well-rounded as possible. You'll need to be able to speak with anyone about anything at anytime. And you never know who that anyone will be. People aren't one-dimensional.
  3. Keep a sense of humor.

Twitter Handle: @jamiegianna

LinkedIn account link:


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