VISTA Enterprise Network - Successful Implementation, World Class Support

Monday, July 6, 2009

Point 5: Users and Programmers Need a Shared Forum, part one

Dear Reader,

A user-driven lifecycle begins with teaching your users how badly we need their ongoing input about what works for them and what doesn't in VISTA. This is much harder for them today than it was in 1994 because mass-market software companies have taught them that no one gives a damn what works for them as long as they keep forking over the cash, that the programmers only work for them in some abstract, marketing sense. In our experience, it takes some work on your part to overcome this learned passivity, but the users who break through tend to become persistent chatterboxes, which is what we all need.

Next, we assume the majority of your users' VISTA requests are reported and resolved by the hospital's own Information Resources Management or Health Information Systems personnel, or by your immediate support organization's expert troubleshooters. The vast majority of problem reports are resolved with training, improved documentation, or through making minor local configuration changes to VISTA, and still others can and should be resolved with forward-compatible local extensions to VISTA (class-three code). That is, a user-driven software lifecycle does not require you to air all or even most of your dirty laundry; each support organization handles the majority of its own problems. All of this can be handled through whatever local problem-reporting system you like.

But when it comes to problems that require shared changes to VISTA, problems requiring the attention of the VISTA package-development teams, VISTA problem-reporting cannot require the use of eighteen different systems for eighteen different organizations. We need to use a single, specialized problem-reporting system that's evolved over the decades to support our VISTA development teams, the one they're most comfortable and efficient with, the only one specifically designed to support the VISTA software lifecycle.

At the hub of the VISTA lifecycle is a single system called Forum. Forum is where users and VISTA teams carry on their continuous dialogue about how VISTA is working and not working for each user, where users formally make requests for changes to VISTA.

Forum is a VISTA system. It runs VISTA. Any VISTA system could be configured as a forum system, but we only need or want one to ensure we get all the user problem requests into one place where they can drive our development priorities. ConīŦguring a VISTA system as the forum system mainly involves ignoring all the medical, financial, and administrative packages in VISTA and properly setting up its communication packages. For example, one of the special VISTA packages Forum uses that most VISTA sites ignore is National Online Information Sharing (or NOIS), the main problem-tracking package; most VISTA sites don't use this package, but on Forum it's one of the main packages used.

To be concluded in part two, tomorrow . . .

Yours truly,
Rick

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