Monday, September 29, 2003

Long and Winding Road

June marked the five-year anniversary of my starting at Sutter Health. It has been an interesting journey. I have started this note on several occasions over the last three months, but have always got sidetracked. I promised myself I would finish it and get it sent out.

Shortly after I started, a number of people asked me what it was like working for Sutter Health. I described the situation with the following analogy.

Imagine that you were given the keys to the car. When you were taken to the car, you found that someone had taken the car and ran it off the road into the middle of a cornfield. The hood of the car was still warm so apparently the previous owner had not been gone long. The car looked good, but there were two flat tires. The gas gauge was just above empty. When the previous owners had left the car, they had left the lights on so now the battery was run down, but not dead. The corn is tall enough that you cannot see the road. There are a number of people milling around the car and there is some disagreement amongst the group about which way to go to get back to the road. Working to get people back into the car, you fail with some people (Nafees Coleman and Karl Danielson). Oh, and by the way, the car is supposed to be somewhere far from there in a very short time; there was a go-live scheduled in less than a month at SMCS, essentially two very large hospitals.

Eventually, we got the car back on the road and had the first major Lawson implementation at SMCS and SHSS in November of 1998. (Finance and procurement for VNA had actually been implemented in May of 1998.) This implementation was followed by the long dark winter of 1998 and 1999. While the team struggled to resolve post-implementation issues from the SMCS go-live, we worked successfully to get a number of Y2K implementations started. Everyone involved in the project demonstrated a remarkable amount of perseverance during 1999.

Through 2000, 2001 and 2002, the team picked up speed. At this point, there are so many cars with different drivers spread across Northern California that I could not keep track of them even if I tried. The Lawson implementations have grown to include 82 separate companies within Sutter Health using different parts of the finance, procurement, workflow, payroll, benefits and human resources applications. One of the most telling statistics is that now more than 30,000 Sutter Health employees receive their paycheck off Lawson.

I believe strongly in the importance of the individual functional teams. Each of your teams and your team lead are the foundation for everything we have done. I am extremely proud of your accomplishments of the last five years and the particularly satisfied with the growth of the managers and team leads.

Your success and the growth of the management team have given me an opportunity to do some other things within Sutter Health. I got an chance to participate in what John Hummel has termed “a once in a lifetime experience of moving a major data center.” As part of this, I have gotten the opportunity to work with and get to know Rudy Jugoz and return to some of my data center, operations and systems roots. It has also given some of you a chance to work on other applications, such as Kronos and Authoria.

This year, I have had a chance to start to get to know Mark Dynes, Kelli Hunt and Laurie Lock and work with them in areas of automation, desktop and help desk.

All of these accomplishments and opportunities are the result of your hard work.

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