ASPE Training Allscripts Dental Case Study

Allscripts BA Academy: A Leadership Perspective

Debbie Stolper is a Senior Manager for the UX team on Allscripts' HomeCare Solutions. We talked with her about the value of business analysis program training from a team leader's point of view.

debbie-team-leaderDebbie has been at Allscripts for almost five years. As a leader of the Homecare Development team, her group designs products for Allscripts’ industry-leading home care systems. This product line is designed to improve clinical quality of care, financial performance, and operational control for both large, integrated home care organizations and small home care companies alike. The team’s products provide business, clinical, and scheduling functionality for multiple lines of business—home health, hospice, and private duty are combined seamlessly in one integrated home care software system. Other priorities include interoperability, exchanging real-time data with state HIEs, and meeting health information exchange industry standards.

Team leaders and the value of training

Debbie has been very pleased with Allscripts’ commitment to training, and she told us a little about her experience with the Allscripts “BA Academy” and how it worked for her team.

She leads 8 business analysts and technical writers -- their job is designing user experience for a range of homecare product customers. When she first began, she thought she was being brought on board to manage "product designers." While they do design products, she soon found that she actually led a team of business analysts. At this time Allscripts was in the process of piloting a BA training program with ASPE. During the pilot, a small number of team members from across the organization are invited to participate, and the enterprise "tries out" ASPE's training to see if it's a good fit and will add value to the enterprise.

Debbie approved one of her team members to attend the pilot, and she returned from the training with a great deal of positive feedback. She emphasized how relevant the training experience was to her own job, and how it would apply to her daily work. By this time other areas of Allscripts' BA workforce were experiencing the same positive feedback from the pilot program, and the enterprise began organizing their BA teams into cohorts who could move through the training program according to the schedule and curriculum plans organized by ASPE and Allscripts. Debbie approved training for some of the other members of her team, and they also came back with great feedback.

Debbie and fellow team leaders began the process of training entire project teams. One of the things she liked most about the experience was the fact that the training was not just a one-time class held at a public location. The ASPE training was designed for Allscripts and delivered at Allscripts. It was a series of classes over a period of time that allowed colleagues who held similar roles at the company but didn't know each other to go through training together. They came out speaking a common language, solving the same kinds of problems, and leveraging common skill sets learned in class.

Debbie eventually attended the training herself. Allscripts is an Agile shop, and one of her primary concerns was making sure the training and skills that BAs learned were compatible with the Agile framework they used to develop software products.  She was pleased to find that they were – business analysis tools like estimation and prioritization weren’t only compatible with Agile…they strengthened and reinforced the Agile development environment in which they worked.

When Debbie evaluates her teams, she looks at results. Although she readily agreed that metrics and data are important, she said that the true value of good BA skills is obvious in the daily work. The training gave her team specific tools for correctly prioritizing tasks and analyzing needs. She stresses that ultimately these translate into measurable long-term results, but in many ways it’s the short term reward of seeing an instant boost in competency and productivity that is most exciting to the manager of a team.

How BA training improves daily work

In terms of daily work, Debbie’s team focuses on product deliverables. The Homecare team develops software and tools that will be used by home care and home health agencies. These users include financial customers, clinical customers (ie PTs, OTs) and network administrators. With such a range of end users, there are many examples of critical daily work activities that were addressed by the training. These tasks combine to define the success of the overall product line. For instance, the home care development team performs research and works with a solutions manager to define needs for the product line. They spend time decomposing and analyzing specific product needs within the department, but they also work closely with customers to make sure the final product dovetails with the practical requirements of the end users. From there, they have a release schedule they follow, and they generate user stories to clarify both project requirements and the daily workflow.

Because the people on Debbie’s team have to work together to deliver one common product, it is critical that they have a shared experience and a shared language they can use to perform their daily work and talk about what they are doing. One of the key benefits of the training experience is this common playbook.  Debbie’s team members continue to train with ASPE. She believes their skill set as a whole is enhanced and strengthened. With every training session, this “unification” grows stronger, allowing the team to function as an increasingly tight, synchronized unit. This has allowed speed to market and defect rate to be dramatically improved.

There were some very specific tools within the Home Care product line that Debbie says benefitted her team right away:

  • Knowing how to ask the correct questions
  • Learning how to elicit information from stakeholders indirectly
  • Leaving with a common “language” and a unified playbook for business analysis techniques across the enterprise – even across departments that were previously siloed
  • Knowing how to confront and analyze tough factors that influence decisions
  • Mingling with other business analysts in the company, allowing faster communication, higher levels of trust, and much more efficient activities even across departments that didn’t previously work together.

Debbie’s team works very closely with the technical teams that develop Allscripts’ Homecare products. The ability to improve their skill set as BAs has allowed them to better provide appropriate information for both software developers and the QA teams.

Parting advice for companies who need training

We asked Debbie what advice she would give to an organization who are seeking business analyst training or who are struggling with their BA practice. Her top recommendations were to carefully review course outlines and take a good look at the CVs of instructors. Because the human expert standing in front of the class is ultimately the vehicle for learning new expertise, it’s the subject matter expert who is the most critical link in the training experience. And when that experience and expertise gets transferred to a working team, the building blocks of the enterprise as a whole are solid.

Click a section to explore the Allscripts Business Analysis Training Program:

  • Read an Executive Summary
    Get a high-level snapshot of the challenges Allscripts faced with their business analysis practices and how enterprise training helped overcome them.

  • Donna: Clinical Analyst
    Donna is a healthcare practitioner who lends clinical expertise to BA activities. She was new to the profession of Business Analysis until participating in the BA Academy.

  • Jose: Expert Business Analyst
    Jose is a cross-functional BA expert who profiles finance-oriented end users. Previously he worked in the Ukraine as a business analyst for Allscripts' development teams.

  • Ken: Practicing Business Analyst
    Ken works on EHR products, researches regulatory requirements, and coordinates software solutions.

This case study is a deep dive into the business analysis training solution ASPE built for Allscripts, which they refer to as the “BA Academy”. Our software and business analysis experts helped them perform organizational process assessments. We also delivered many granular personal assessments for their teams. Once process gaps and skills gaps were pinpointed, a training program was built and delivered that left them with fully functioning business analysis teams. Key departments and leaders also earned industry-standard certifications that guaranteed the most current, up to date skills in this important and constantly evolving software development role.