$200K Word Change

I was talking with a friend last week who has spent all his time at small, nimble companies. He was amazed at the challenge of getting something prioritized and completed in a big IT shop where process can often kill flexibility. There are lots of reasons for this – doing all the small projects would use all the time, the big projects have great ROI, the risk of something going wrong is much higher, etc. There are also dozens of reasons why you want to figure out how to be big and nimble.

When I was focused on this technology challenge (see old blog), I used to talk about SOA (service oriented architecture) and BPMS (Business Process Management Systems) where you could create a process abstraction layer that sits above your existing legacy environment. This abstraction layer allows companies to make rapid changes within a controlled environment.

The one example I always use is when we decided to move from the word “member” to “patient”. To do this systemically, you have to change call scripts, job titles, system fields, metadata, contracts, letters, etc. Of course, you also want to change the website. When I put this request into IT, I got back an estimate of $200,000 to make that change (or 2,000 hours at $100 internal cost transfer per hour). How do you justify the business case for this other than strategically and qualitatively? And, given a shortage of resources, why would you focus on this rather than some other web development project?

It was an interesting and frustrating process. We obviously wanted to show clients that we had fully transitioned to focusing on patients. We wanted to show consumers that we were thinking of them differently. But, we were stuck in the project prioritization process for scarce resources.

This ability to drive branding through every interaction and evolve your branding as you learn about your consumers will be an interesting challenge to an industry like healthcare where companies are slow to change and change takes time.

One Response to “$200K Word Change”

  1. Precisely why was the decision made to change from “member” to “patient”? What is the underlying value of showing clients that the company was thinking of them differently? Were you losing customers? or not growing as fast as desired? That’s where your ROI for such a change has to be found; otherwise, why make the change?

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