Actionable information requires many cooks

Many different cooks in the kitchen

In my last post I talked about the three main diners in any healthcare organization, the healthcare leaders, the CIO and the Business Intelligence (BI) team.  Pulling all of the pieces together to create an adaptive, learning organization that turns massive amounts of data into actionable evidenced-based decisions is a complex undertaking with many different moving parts.  It’s much like the complexities of running a restaurant.

The demands of picky eaters

Much like the changing tastes of diners, strategic initiatives in healthcare organizations evolve and change often.   BI teams work hard to pull all of the pieces together every day to meet the changing needs of strategic priorities, but are often a step behind due to the complex inner workings of data, computer systems and team members.

Anticipating and reacting to the changing needs of strategic priorities is difficult and requires great communication between all parts of an organization.  Understanding this complex infrastructure helps everyone from leaders to developers evolve the environment to meet new challenges.

Many different cooks in the kitchen

Different cooks have different jobs.  There are grill cooks, sauciers, line cooks, pastry chefs, prep cooks, dishwashers and expeditors.  They all perform different roles and are generally not interchangeable.  The same is true in a business intelligence team.  Many different roles are required including database administrators, report writers, data analysts, ETL developers, data modelers and architects.  Every role plays a unique part and is staffed by people with different skills; ETL developers don’t write reports and data analysts don’t architect overall solutions.  The roles are not interchangeable.

The Pantry

Cooks transform raw ingredients into exquisite meals.  They have dry, wet, cold and frozen ingredients.  Each needs to be cared for in its own unique way to assure a great meal.   In a BI organization, there are also ingredients, but the ingredients are data; many different types from many exotic places.  HR data from Lawson, clinical data from Cerner, billing data from Epic, quality data from special tools and vendors.  The BI developers and architects know which pieces of data can be combined and which can’t.  As there is a supply chain to ensure fresh ingredients in a kitchen, there is a supply chain to ensure fresh data.  It needs to be shipped in, categorized, stored, and transformed into relevant, timely actionable information.    The data needs to be held in flexible ways to ensure the needs of special requests can be accommodated.

The Kitchen

Many organizations have a full range of tools and equipment that could include products like, Microsoft BI, Business Objects, Crystal Reports, Tableau and others.  Different BI team members know how to use and maintain each of these different tools to convert data into information.  Complex tools require experienced developers and administrators to ensure they are always in top working order to ensure data analysts can use the tools to answer strategic business questions.

The BI Chef

A chef’s job is to bring together the ingredients, cooks, and equipment to make a great meal, the leader of a BI organization fills the same role.   The BI teams needs to talk with healthcare leaders to better understand their needs and future requirements.  Needs will change over time and the BI team needs to be in the best position to support their changing tastes.  Educating leadership about the complexities of running a BI organization, the complex interworking of data, tools and people, ensures a level of mutual respect for long-term success.  Getting invited early into conversations about new needs helps ensure needs can be met in the future.  The BI team can ensure the data is available, tools are budgeted for and staff are trained appropriately.

Of course there will always be new urgent cravings and a rush of orders, but by everyone gaining a better understanding of how a BI team works leaders are more pleased and start to call ahead to make reservations.

Ted

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