The healthcare industry is facing unprecedented change creating a generational opportunity to impact the health of over 16.4 million people across the nation over the past five years (hhs.gov). Many health solution companies have since prepared for the known and unknown impacts in an effort to continue to deliver quality care. Over the past 18 months, our Corporate Procurement team has taken on several large transformation projects, primarily in the response to this unprecedented industry change. Strategic Sourcing, Supplier Management or Procurement teams need to understand the overall impact of the changes within their specific industry and how it alters their business processes.
That said, a complete redesign of our process, business alignment, and technology was not only needed, but required. It was crucial for our team to be able to proactively respond to rapid transactional growth, consumerism within healthcare, and new business ventures all while maintaining a keen eye on financial and risk management. It was apparent that we not only needed to launch our new transformation but promote and prove our quantitative and qualitative value to the organization. The following five strategies were key to successfully launching a process redesign, and we continue to keep these strategies at the top of our mind - even after our successful launch.
Align to Corporate Strategy
When faced with uncertainty in the markets and new opportunities presenting themselves almost daily, companies may look to a diversification strategy. Our procurement team was required to adopt a nimble approach in order to satisfy many different needs across the company. We had business partners that required a complete cost reset and we were very aggressively negotiating and looking for alternative solutions. A key part of our company's strategy is to drive innovation to improve the health of our communities. This requires speed and an understanding that the inherent risk of a supplier is appropriate. It became evident that our standard process would no longer be standard and our process required a personalized approach. In these cases, our focus changed to identifying and monitoring risk rather than contractually shifting it. A somewhat strange stance for some of our better negotiators. The key is that what we historically had been very good at; did not work in the "new normal." We needed to listen and understand the company strategy in order to flourish.
Understand Procurement's Value Proposition
Our previous efforts were primarily focused on risk and cost negotiations; however based on the changing environment, we were pushed to reevaluate our value proposition. A large amount of our core functionality was still required, however we were forced to look at a new set of values. As one of our officers had commented, "Procurement had become a processor of documents and memos." Concern that these action only provided marginal value in the future and did not support speed-to-market efforts nor enhance the experience of our partners; we made three fundamental shifts to our process. The first was to provide a one-to-one relationship manager to all of our partners. This allows team members to obtain strong business acumen to support clients as well as building relationships. Second, we enhanced the data and analysis in the beginning of the process. Effectively the team was engaging the business on potential areas of opportunity, not waiting for a request. Last, we enhanced our offerings post-contract. Our engagement and relationship with our partners does not end when a contract is signed. We now have a clear understanding of the business' needs from which we will now act as partners in developing goals and future industry positioning.
Develop Brand Ambassadors
Through an initial discovery session, two common obstacles arose - lack of early engagement of the users, and lack of communication. In an effort to address these issues head on, we first created a focus group of associates that utilizes the procurement tools and process the most. This proved to be most beneficial as we uncovered the concerns as well as the impressions and thoughts of the Procurement structure, process, team, and offerings. We restructured and developed "Ambassadors" to align with business units to promote early engagement and transparent communication.
For additional communication and support, we provided communication avenues and resources such as systems support - phone and email, as well as the creation of an all-encompassing internal web-site highlighting the many offerings of Procurement as well as serving as a central repository of resource and reference items easily accessible to our business partners.
Along with a new communication plan, we needed to improve our image. We took a good look at the focus group feedback and identified the elements that tarnished the image previously. In essence, we had to present a human persona positioning ourselves as partners not obstacles. Whimsical videos were distributed via internal web and direct email addressing some of the common concerns such as speed, transparency, and understanding the business.
And it was important to understand and buy into the change ourselves, and through our excitement it was palpable across the organization, which in turn allowed us to overcome the bumps along the implementation that we were bound to face. The excitement was contagious and reached across the organization.
Continuously Deliver and Prepare for Change
The team had a great deal of success. We continue to explain the results: speed, cost, risk to our partners. Data proved that the perception curve had changed and we were on the right path. Not only did our typical performance measures increase, but you could see the intangibles of a successful launch. Early engagement increased within the business and our team has begun to look past the contract and more at the industry and business need.
We continue to deliver on our promises throughout the transformations and process implementations. An executive uses a common quote, "good enough is not good enough." Coupling a well-thought out transformation with a robust branding and communication plan has positioned our team to react to changes to come and support the overall goal as the best health solutions company.
GuideWell is a not-for-profit mutual holding company that is the parent to a family of forward-thinking companies focused on transforming health care. The GuideWell companies include: Florida Blue (Florida's Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan), GuideWell Health (a health care delivery company), GuideWell Connect (a health care consumer marketing company), and Diversified Service Options (an administrative and claims processing company for state and federal health care programs). For more information, visit www.GuideWell.com.