epic upgrade project

Managing the 2017 Epic Upgrade Project for Group Health Cooperative [Guest Post]

April 6, 2017 by

As a Project manager, have you ever managed a project where you find yourself a bit out of your comfort zone due to your lack of subject matter knowledge?

As most of the projects I manage are focused on the Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin (GHC) business, I find this happening to me more often than not. Managing projects that are specific to Supply Chain Management, Financial Systems or GHC’s electronic medical record software (Epic) are not business areas that I have previously had career experience in.

As such, it has been critical for me to use a tool that is both flexible and customizable so that projects can be built out in ways where team members can participate in a meaningful way to ensure that the project documentation is accurate and tells the true story of a project from start to finish.


What is the GHC Epic Upgrade Project?

For those of you that may not be aware, 190 million patients have a current electronic health record in Epic. The Epic electronic medical record software is used in; hospitals, retail clinics, skilled nursing centers, rehab centers, hospices and many other types of organizations across the globe.

GHC has a team of 12 Epic Analysts, many of whom were former Epic employees, whose specialization is primarily Epic module specific. Each analyst focuses on the maintenance, changes and new feature development of their specific module within Epic. Some of these modules include:

  • EpicCare Ambulatory – Clinical documentation module, order entry, and e-prescribing
  • Cadence – Scheduling and tracking patient appointments
  • Prelude – Patient registration system
  • Willow – Pharmacy.


As you can imagine, the knowledge and skill set needed for managing an Epic upgrade is steep.


2017 – Using BrightWork to Manage the Epic Upgrade

2017 marks my second Epic upgrade at GHC, my first upgrade occurred in 2016. To say that I was initially uncomfortable managing this project was an understatement. However, project managers do not have to necessarily serve as a subject matter expert (SME). Fortunately, there were spreadsheets and task lists and a lot of other good documentation from previous upgrades that I could leverage for the 2016 upgrade. At the end of the project, along with a project team “Lessons Learned” meeting, I completed an evaluation of the project management documentation and workflow and concluded that there was room for improvement.

The 2017 GHC Epic Upgrade is now managed within BrightWork. While not overly sophisticated, we are able to provide our team and stakeholders an environment where they can read the “story” of the project.

Image 1.1 - Weekly Status Report: (Emailed to Team Members and Stakeholders

Image 1.1 – Weekly Status Report: (Emailed to Team Members and Stakeholders











GHC Weekly Status Report2 - Copy

Image 1.2 – Epic Project Dashboard and Metric Tiles


Epic Project Set Up & BrightWork Use

To ensure the Epic Upgrade project has a strong amount of subject matter expertise (SME), we are utilizing 3 project managers. I serve as the high-level Project Manager (PM) to coordinate all of the moving pieces and parts.

  1. The Epic Application (EA) PM – Manages the Epic Analyst team and oversees details surrounding building/configuration/testing of the Epic Software.
  2. The Technical Services PM – Manages the Data Base & Data Center teams and oversees details surrounding infrastructure and databases.
  3. The High-Level PM – Manages the project from a higher level and works with the EA PM and the Technical Services PM to manage the project schedule and deliverables.


To ensure the project is managed properly, we use BrightWork to:

1. Track high-level tasks

2. Track issues

3. Track status updates and key metrics

4. House all project documentation. 

Image 1.3 - Project Documentation

Image 1.3 – Project Documentation




GHC Sample Project Documentation - Copy

Image 1.4 – Sample Project Documents













5. Provide high-level Calendar Views  

GHC HL Milestone Calendar

Image 1.5 – High-Level Milestone Calendar




GHC Project Team Time Off Calendar - Copy

Image 1.6 – Project Team Time Off Calendar











Telling the Accurate Story of the Epic Project

While previous upgrade projects were managed in a simpler and older SharePoint site, we have found that BrightWork has allowed us to not only track, manage and store project information, but also provides a solid yet customizable workflow and presents an accurate picture/story of the project. This was especially important to me as I found it time-consuming to review historical project documentation while trying to understand the “story” of the project. I try to set up projects in BrightWork to tell the “story” of the project to a reader who has no previous knowledge of the project. With a few clicks, the reader should be able to understand the following:

  1. Was the project successful?
  2. Was the project resourced properly?
  3. Was the status of the project communicated effectively?
  4. Does the project provide ample supplemental documentation?
  5. Were there major issues that affected the project’s outcome?


As I continue to use BrightWork, I am constantly learning new and more efficient ways to tell each project’s story. I encourage you to view your project management documentation through the eyes of an unfamiliar reader and build out the project sites that allow you and your teams to effectively manage projects, but also provide solid information that tells the true story of the project from beginning to end.

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