Enterprise Software

CIO Journal: Keeping all the fires going

As this installment of one VP of IS's weeklong journal details, a typical workday can involve numerous meetings with business unit heads, and it can present challenges in advancing projects. But this tech leader also mixes those duties with a bit of fun.


Michelle Miller is VP of IS at MedSolutions, Inc., a Nashville, TN, radiology management products provider. In the second installment of her CIO Journal series, it’s clear that Miller’s typical day often requires juggling a myriad of meetings with various business units—and some days include a little joy inherent in holding a top tech executive position.

Tuesday, 8:30 A.M.: A "fun" task at the start of the day
I arrived to find a plastic Easter egg on my desk. Inside was a piece of paper explaining a game called Eggstrovert. As MedSolutions has grown so quickly over the past four to six months, it has become impossible to keep track of the new faces. This Eggstrovert game was orchestrated by a small group of folks committed to maintaining morale and a sense of community in our company. The goal is to get all of us to take a walk down the hall and talk with someone we normally wouldn’t. On the paper inside the egg are the names of two people. I am to (a) figure out who they are; (b) find them; and (c) ask them something about themselves no one else would know and write it down on the paper. I then turn the paper in for a drawing later in the week. It is a great way to start another long and challenging day.

8:45 A.M.: Lobbying for a new sales tool
I meet with the director of marketing to talk about development of a custom sales-force automation (SFA) tool. A prototype had been built with Act, but because that product is not one that we support as an enterprise application, I’ve been lobbying to move the SFA tool to a Microsoft SQL back-end/Web front-end architecture. I’ve discovered a power user in another department with database design experience, and we will give this project to this user as a growth opportunity. I’ve found this "internal outsourcing" to be an effective way to get project work like this done without increasing IS staff needs. It can be a win-win for the employee and for us, but it has to be the right person, and his or her supervisor needs to be on board with the dotted line relationship the person will have to me during the life of the project.

11 A.M.: Weekly forum with users
I take a conference call with account managers. We have six account managers nationwide who act as liaisons between managed-care clients and our corporate office. Because we have enacted so many operational changes over the past few months as a result of the system conversion, I’ve made an effort to meet with the account managers every week to keep them up to speed on how the changes we make internally may impact our customers. I found them to be absolutely bursting with ideas for ways we can improve our service. All they needed was a forum. I expect this meeting to continue even after the system changes settle out as a way to feed ideas from the field to corporate.


Michelle Miller

Miller’s first IT gig was an IBM internship as a hardware test engineer on the then-new RS600. The 33-year-old says she most enjoys the variety and pace of her job, as it's never boring. Yet there are inherent drawbacks as well, as it’s nearly impossible to become an expert in any one initiative, she admits. Miller advises wanna-be CIOs not to underestimate the amount of leadership, people-management, and time-management skills needed to serve as an effective CIO. “Knowing the technology bit is not enough,” she said.


3 P.M.: Staffing interview
I conduct an interview with a physician for a medical director position. This gentleman has an interesting combination of medical and informatics background. He went through a paperless conversion at his own company fairly recently and had some good things to say about how relatively smoothly ours seems to have gone. It is definitely good to hear external reviews like this, particularly when they are encouraging!

4:30 P.M.: Avoiding a customer disappointment
Impromptu conversation with my Web support person leads to the discovery of a good-size disconnect between what our account managers (AMs) think our Web site can do and what it really can do. Accommodating the functionality one AM has promised to a client (by the beginning of next week, mind you) would be a significant change, and we will not be able to accommodate it in the time frame required. I make a call to the AM and her lead to talk about a plan B for this particular commitment, and I make a note to get a detailed training session together for the AMs about our Web site. I make an additional note to get a planning meeting together for the next series of Web site enhancements. This is long overdue.

5 P.M.: Another fun duty
This is the best part of the day, as I hand out bonus checks to my staff. It is great to be able to take the time to recognize the hard work and dedication of my team and back that up with monetary recognition from the company.

5:45 P.M.: CRM creeps into the day
I have an impromptu conversation with the VP of operations about how to best manage a communication plan for further CRM enhancements. We discuss opening up a couple of the Service Task Force meetings to the larger CRM user group to collectively review our list of enhancements and get input from them about prioritization. We decide that a meeting of that size to review a tremendous amount of detail will be excruciating but worthwhile. We decide to do it tomorrow and bring in lunch. Shortly after this meeting, I meet with representatives from WITI (Women in Technology International) to discuss an opportunity for me to speak to the Nashville organization.

Did you miss the first installment?
Catch up on Michelle Miller’s five-day journal by reading her first journal installment.

 

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