The responsibilities in healthcare supply chain seem to be never-ending. And there always seems to be more to do than there are resources to actually do the work. Many teams find themselves stuck in reactive mode, jumping from one expired contract to the next. They feel like they’re barely keeping up.
If this sounds familiar, your team needs an agile work plan. It’s the best tool we’ve seen for moving a supply chain team from a reactive approach to a proactive one. And with the right tools, it’s something that almost any hospital or healthcare system can accomplish – no matter how dire the current landscape.
Before we dive deeper into the need for an agile work plan, let’s talk about work plans in general.
What Is a Work Plan?
If the term work plan is unfamiliar, you may know the concept already as a sourcing plan or service plan. A work plan is a project management tool that helps the organization look out further ahead and determine what to focus on, say, 12 months out.
In order to be effective, a work plan should be tied to an annual savings goal – much like a sales target. Similar to a sales team managing a sales forecast, the supply chain team can do the same with a savings forecast. Some deals will come through as forecasted, and others will not. Similarly, some will be larger, and some smaller. We, at Curvo, recommend targeting a more aggressive number to give room for deals that don’t drive the anticipated savings.
A sourcing work plan can be informed in more than one way. One of the most effective approaches is to look at what’s coming up on a contract expiration or renewal timeframe and build out a work plan from there. For example, if your team knows that a contract is coming up for renewal in September of next year, they can schedule to begin working on that contract, pulling analytics and so forth, this coming March. An effective work plan lays out when all contracts are due for renewal, as well as when you should begin working on those contract renewals, which stakeholders to involve, and what strategy to take.
By taking this more proactive approach, you can socialize with your leadership what you expect to accomplish, the categories you plan to tackle, and the savings you anticipate through those projects.
Of course, the best-case scenario is usually a mix of these approaches. The items coming off contract must be dealt with. But sticking to those items alone is only a bare minimum. When supply chain builds out a calendar based on savings forecasts, they can easily show, track, and report on which 12 categories they plan to tackle proactively in the coming year.
Implants and PPI can be some of the most strategic categories with varying levels of complexity. While your team will have hundreds of commodity contracts to review and update throughout the year, there are fewer implant and PPI contracts. Our recommendation for most hospital systems is to average one PPI/implant category per month while overlaying one to two complex categories per year like CRM, Spine, or Total Joints. It’s best to pace these projects out so that the team is always starting a new one as it closes out the last one. And, that’s what a quality sourcing work plan facilitates. It’s the guiding document that keeps the team focused on the appropriate tasks for a given month or quarter.
Components of a Sourcing Work Plan
An effective work plan is more than just categories and projects and target dates. It’s a tool that allows you to see all your opportunities and target dates in one place, yes. Most work plans will include the strategy in play, the category, the contract type, spend data and savings targets, and the calendar quarter or month the item is due.
But sourcing work plans should also include the stakeholder and points of contact within your organization that will impact the success of the project. Generally, you’ll want to indicate project sponsors, clinical sponsors or subject matter experts, and an executive sponsor.
It’s a good idea to include a project checklist as well. Here’s a sample project checklist you can use as a starting point.
An Effective Sourcing Work Plan Must Be Agile
As effective as work plans can be, an inflexible and seemingly unchangeable sourcing work plan won’t do. Far too much happens in a year to be chained to a document that’s 11 or 12 months old. Think of COVID-19, for example, 12 months ago, it didn’t exist!
The healthcare landscape at this moment doesn’t look anything like analysts thought it would a year ago. Yet, far too many hospitals and health systems stay more or less bound to their contract calendar as if it’s the immutable law of the land. That’s not an agile approach, and it doesn’t set up supply chain teams for the most success.
In addition to the hospitals that cling too closely to their unchangeable contract calendar, there are other hospitals that aren’t using any sort of calendar or work plan. Their approach is more akin to whack-a-mole.
There’s so much room for growth here, both in implementing a work plan in the first place and ensuring that the work plan is agile. Then, reviewing it regularly and managing the team to it.
For a sourcing work plan to be as effective as possible, it needs to be agile. An agile work plan is one that can be modified quickly if the circumstances warrant it. It’s a work plan that follows Six Sigma/lean methodology, and it’s a work plan that is actively managed.
Curvo Empowers the Agile Work Plan
Curvo Labs arms supply chain teams with the tools needed to create an agile work plan. Curvo allows them to easily see movement in the data and quickly make adjustments based on market pricing. It no longer takes significant time or effort to catch price increases, greatly simplifying the process of obtaining the data that informs the work plan.
Because it speeds up so many aspects of supply chain work, Curvo allows your team to make quick adjustments and take on new projects you otherwise wouldn’t have the capacity for.
With an agile work plan for sourcing, if you encounter price increases on a single item, you can easily look at the entire category to decide whether the whole category should be renegotiated.
Curvo Can Supercharge Your Existing Efforts
Curvo’s powerful suite of solutions gives you the actionable intel you need so that you can quickly adjust based on market data and act on the savings opportunities that arise. Curvo makes it easy to access informed data so that you can constantly evaluate what’s being worked on and what changes are occurring (such as price creep or price disparities).
If you’re interested in seeing how Curvo can help you achieve an agile work plan, schedule a demo to start the conversation today.