For Epic Implementations the Right Project Manager is Crucial

Stay up to date on our latest blogs and content


By Melissa Alfiero | Oct 13, 2023

3 minute read EHR/EMR| Epic| Blog

Have you ever wondered what makes some Epic implementations run so smoothly while others feel like an endless string of challenges? One explanation lies in the understanding that managing an Epic implementation takes more than a great project management professional (PMP) and more than a highly experienced Epic project manager. For best results, your Epic implementation needs a project leader with an understanding of both.  

Those with Project Management Professional (PMP) credentials from the Project Management Institute (PMI) are considered holders of “the world’s most recognized project management certification,” per their website. They understand and follow PMI best practices and are familiar with typical project phases, tools and methods, whether that is waterfall, agile, or scrum methodology.  

Experienced Epic project managers follow the Epic project implementation strategy that neither fully complies, nor fully deviates from the proven framework of PMI. Installing Epic challenges organizations to understand what is truly necessary and helpful from each project management approach and then meld the methods to avoid unnecessary rigor. Only through the understanding of this multi-faceted and balanced approach will an install result in a successful, artifact rich, end user and operation-ready Epic system for go-live.  

CereCore understands the two approaches and brings the discipline of the PMI world and the purposeful Epic framework into each Epic project they lead or advise. This means applying specific knowledge and best practices to many areas critical to project implementation success including: 

Creating a phase-based timeline for each Epic implementation project 

Most Epic projects employ a “waterfall” approach – a system that generally requires completing one task before moving to the next. Incorporating some elements of agile methodology – organizing tasks so they can happen simultaneously – will allow for more efficiency and speed. Aligning the language, tools, milestones and deliverables of both the PMI framework and Epic methodologies helps create: 

  • A solid project schedule that will meet the needs of your Epic implementation. 
  • Satisfied stakeholders and operators that are familiar with standard PMO frameworks. 
  • A more broadly known project management language with tools to create context, confidence, and buy-in about the project plan, functionality, and workflows.  

Establishing checkpoints and accountability to drive project success 

Instituting a governance and approval structure with a foundation in operations ensures an implementation moves forward on time and according to leadership direction. To establish such a structure, keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • Outline governing groups. Determine responsibilities and membership. 
  • Formalize roles so approvers feel accountable and confident in making timely decisions informed by experience. 
  • Establish checkpoints and gates required to move forward.  
  • Schedule meetings and events with operations to review project status. Ensure approvers know their roles in enabling the project to progress. 

Using the tools that are the most helpful 

Both Epic and PMI have project management methodologies and provide standard tools and templates that can be used throughout an implementation for build tracking, testing, reporting status, preparing for training, etc. Understand the tools from both methodologies and apply them in a way that will facilitate your project’s success. Select tools that are right sized for your project and that are familiar to your organization. Among the considerations to determine the best mix of tools for each implementation are: 

  • Timeline and preparation required to set up the tools and use them efficiently.  
  • Methods the health system/facility team and stakeholders are already familiar with and that align with their communication strategy. 
  • Building out a tool mix that will simplify and promote the system/team’s work and not overcomplicate it given the timeframe and scope for the implementation.  

Assessing the readiness, capacity, and experience needed to manage the implementation 

The areas documented above and several other critical areas should be reviewed and evaluated to effectively leverage the project methodologies from both Epic and PMI, fusing the best practices that will work for implementations at your organization. In some cases a team is equipped, through Epic and PMI certifications, to conduct this work. In many cases, however, IT and Operations at Epic facilities could make use of additional resources with this cross-section of skillsets, or could use mentoring or advising for their existing PMO on how these two methodologies can work together.  

The Epic project management advisors and experts at CereCore can help evaluate your implementation plan and efficiency opportunities for your projects and advise your existing project managers and staff on a well-balanced approach to your unique implementation. Let our experienced project managers and advisors help you create the right combination of project management methods and tools that will work for your organization. Use our form at the bottom of the Epic Services page to contact us.  

More information for Epic users:

About the Author:
Melissa Alfiero

Director of Epic Specialty Services, CereCore

Put Us to Work

Let us know how we can support your initiatives and take some of the heavy lifting from healthcare IT.