Dartmouth-Hitchcock: A Case of Curing Project Management Pain

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Jul 13, 2012

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Company: Dartmouth-Hitchcock Healthcare System

Dartmouth-Hitchcock is a national leader in evidence-based and patient-centered healthcare. The system includes hundreds of physicians, specialists, and other providers who work together at different locations to meet the healthcare needs of patients in northern New England. In addition to primary care services at local community practices, Dartmouth-Hitchcock patients have access to specialists in almost every area of medicine, as well as world-class research at the Audrey and Theodor Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and centers of excellence including The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice.

Business Challenge

With more than 6,500 employees, a number of locations, and a broad mandate, managers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock health care system are responsible for a steady and diverse stream of projects at any given time. Dartmouth-Hitchcock's interim director of content and publications, communications and marketing, Ryan Newswanger, supervises a wide range of short and long-term web projects at any given time. His team was using a content management system and basic project management software to keep track of the team's activities, but was struggling to keep projects on track and on time. Newswanger felt his team constantly risked missing deadlines. He decided that deeper insights were needed into the entire scope of the projects he managed in order to better meet deadlines, but also to set realistic goals and project requirements.

Vendor of Choice: LiquidPlanner

Founded in 2006 and headquartered in Bellevue, WA, LiquidPlanner is collaborative online project management software. LiquidPlanner provides a shared framework for goal-setting and the ability to more transparently communicate task and project status, while intelligently and efficiently aggregating information and data for managers. By optimizing employee productivity around prioritized tasks, LiquidPlanner allows companies to more efficiently meet corporate and strategic objectives.


The Problem in Depth

A homegrown system worked "well enough" when he had a team of four to manage periodic website launches and updates, according to Ryan Newswanger, the interim director of content and publications, communications and marketing at Dartmouth-Hitchcock healthcare system. However, when his team was faced with porting 15,000 pages of content from one content management system to another-along with an information architecture overhaul-Newswanger started to lose sleep at night.

While he doesn't come from a project management background, Newswanger had segmented this daunting undertaking into nine discrete "chunks" to organize the project. By the end of the second chunk, he says, "we could see it wasn't going to work." He had problems "coordinating schedules and we had some hairy launches. Some people were upset and we didn't like the feeling of flying by the seat of our pants."

As LiquidPlanner CEO and co-founder Charles Seybold describes it, "they had a lot on their plates and they had no quantitative or analytical piece in their solution so they lived in constant fear of missing deadlines. They were living day-to-day in a high stress environment."

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