University of Mississippi Medical Center: Deploying Workday Supply Chain Management Virtually

Al Faulk, senior director of information technology at University of Mississippi Medical Center, discusses UMMC’s digital transformation journey, its recent virtual deployment, and the importance of effective partnership.

Ellen Murphy September 25, 2020
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University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) is focused on improving the lives of Mississippians by educating future healthcare professionals, conducting health sciences research, and providing cutting-edge patient care. The state's only academic health science center, UMMC is one of the largest employers in Mississippi with more than 10,000 full-time and part-time employees.

Recently, we connected with Al Faulk, senior director of information technology at UMMC, to learn about UMMC’s digital transformation journey, its recent virtual deployment of Workday Supply Chain Management, and the importance of effective partnership. 

What was your experience deploying Workday Supply Chain Management? 

In February of 2020, we were moving through final validations for our Workday Supply Chain Management deployment. Our organization was prepared to begin training, but with the onset of COVID, all our plans for training on-site went out the window. 

Our organizational leadership team had to decide, do we move forward with taking a new system live in the middle of a global pandemic? As a healthcare organization, we’re dependent on our medical supply chain functioning. Personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators were two main focal points, especially in March, so following through on the change to our supply chain management system held a lot of weight. 

We’d already gone live with Workday Human Capital Management and Workday Financial Management successfully. And, our rounds of testing in January and February were also successful, so UMMC leadership decided to move forward with our planned April go-live for Workday Supply Chain Management. We were confident we could transition without interruption. And, we knew once we were live on Workday, we’d have the added benefit of mobile capability. 

With most non-clinical project resources working remotely, how did that impact your work streams, and what changes did you have to make to your deployment plans? 

For training, we revamped classes for virtual learning, including beefing up our open lab model to include virtual breakout rooms.

We also transitioned our physical command center to a virtual command center. Instead of Workday-related help desk calls being routed to a conference room where our team worked all together, we used functionality in our recently upgraded phone system to have calls routed directly to our command center employees’ computers as they worked from home. This allowed them to assist in the same fashion as if they were in the physical command center.  

To ensure all these employees could collaborate and share common issues they were hearing from users, we set up an all-day video conference. We could easily connect with each other and were able to smoothly publish updated training documents based on feedback and insights. 

Our gauge of success was how quickly we were able to transition from command center support to normal operations. Our volume of calls was exactly what we expected it to be. By the second week we were live, questions were more in depth, which indicated our users had accepted the system and were starting more complex processes. As with our previous Workday deployments, we saw the benefits of adopting Supply Chain Management right away. 

How did Workday Supply Chain Management integrate with your supply vendors? 

For our hospital supply room equipment, we use PAR Excellence which uses supply bins that are weight-sensitive. When bins get below a certain weight, they automatically place reorders, so hospital staff don’t have to manually manage orders. 

To ensure there would be no issues with orders when we transitioned to Workday, we worked with our implementation partners and PAR Excellence. We realized we could technically be live on Workday the week before our official go-live date because we’d already imported and validated all the data into Workday. 

We did our cutover from our legacy system at midnight and saw the first round of orders flow from PAR Excellence through Workday at the scheduled time the following morning. The partnership with our implementation partners and Workday ensured we saw no interruption in the process. We were also able to create and share a pandemic supply report with our leadership team through Workday, too, which gave better visibility into our supply pipeline. 

How did already being live on Workday Human Capital Management and Workday Financial Management impact your supply chain deployment?

Our deployment for HR, payroll, and finance affected everyone in our organization. When we deployed Workday Supply Chain Management, we didn’t have to train our supply chain folks on what Workday was or how the login process worked because people were already familiar. 

Also, before we deployed supply chain management, only a part of our finance operations were in Workday because we kept accounts payable and procurement in our legacy system. There were integrations, so general ledger information had to pass back and forth to keep both systems in line. Our finance folks are very glad to have everything in Workday now, so they're not comparing two systems.

Is the mobile functionality something new and different from your legacy system?

We didn’t have mobile capability in the old system, and even browser access was limited because we didn't have the security in place for users to be off-campus or off-network and access information in our legacy system. Workday ties our active directory with our two-factor authentication, so users off-campus can quickly complete requests and approvals on the go. 

In our legacy system, our expense report process was paper-based, so reimbursements had to literally go through many hands to process. Due to the mobile functionality, automation, and increased visibility into the processing timeline in Workday, users are getting paid before they even think to go back and check where their expenses are in the business process. 

How important was effective partnership for your deployment? 

Shifting to a virtual deployment wasn't a big lift for us because we had strong relationships and partnerships with our implementation partner and Workday already. In the midst of the go-live, we worked collaboratively with Workday and our implementation partner to ensure our needs were met.

Workday values the uniqueness of the healthcare supply chain. They understand there's a patient in a bed that needs supplies, so eliminating inefficiencies is paramount. Inviting customers to influence ongoing enhancements, rather than providing a stagnant model, is also key. When developers demonstrate a new version or feature, it's a collaborative exchange where they solicit feedback from healthcare organizations. The openness to listen and act on user feedback is valuable, and acknowledging the need and putting resources behind it is impressive.

Our supply chain team is amped for the new functionality coming in the next release. The constant innovation, the two version updates per year, and the collaborations with the design partner group are great. We're excited about Workday Supply Chain Management today and look forward to where it is going.

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