While implementing iHRIS takes substantial effort, it can have a significant impact wherever it is used. That begins with changing from established ways and systems to new ones. Not everyone working on your team and who you will interact with will have experience using computers, managing databases, or relying on access to information to make decisions. Real and lasting change takes time, and the process requires patience and persistence.
What does a successful iHRIS implementation look like? The ultimate measure of the system’s performance is regular use for making HR policy and management decisions, with stakeholders accepting the data as reliable, accurate, and valid. Beyond that, its interoperability with other health systems enhances the power of its data. In short, the system is useful, used, and powerful.
There are three important points to understand about the implementation process before diving in:
- This is a process, not a one-time event. Don’t expect to simply install iHRIS and start using it immediately. Implementation requires thoughtful planning and stakeholder support. Even after the implementation has ended, regular monitoring and updating of the system will keep it useful and used.
- Planning is important for success, but so is flexibility. The unexpected will arise. Even after thorough planning, last-minute changes occur. For example, there may be changes in leadership, policy, or goals for the health information system. Be willing to adapt. Plans can and should be adjusted throughout the process to meet the realities as they exist.
- Implementation is different everywhere. This Toolkit provides a roadmap to the process, incorporating the best advice of previous field implementers. Every place is different, however, and every implementation must be different too. Use this Toolkit as guidance, not hard-and-fast rules. You may need to omit some steps or tackle them in a different order. You will probably have to adapt the tools to make them appropriate for your situation. Again, flexibility is important for success.
Read through the entire Toolkit and familiarize yourself with the process before you start. Several important steps must be completed before you begin installing and customizing iHRIS. It may seem like the assessment and planning steps will take a lot of time. These phases, which include policy development and requirements gathering, are the most intensive part of the process. However, they are essential in ensuring a successful iHRIS implementation that can be sustained over the long term.
Assemble the Implementation Team
Implementing iHRIS requires a team to take on the many roles needed for success. The Project Manager (or team leader), plans the details of the implementation, tracks progress, and reports on outcomes. That person must be an enthusiastic champion of the project who engages with the stakeholders of the system and communicates the benefits of iHRIS to them.
The team will include at a minimum the following roles:
- The ICT Advisor manages the customization of the software and setup of the ICT infrastructure.
- The HRIS Advisor manages data sharing and interoperability tasks, defines system requirements, and extracts business rules from stakeholders.
- The iHRIS Software Developer implements the customizations defined by ICT and HRIS advisors.
- The HR Data Analyst manages data standards, quality, use, and reporting.
- The Training Manager is responsible for training and technical support of all the users of iHRIS.
Learn About iHRIS
During the iHRIS implementation, the team will install and customize one or more of the iHRIS health workforce information solutions. The iHRIS applications include:
- iHRIS Manage, to manage health worker deployment, performance, and attrition information;
- iHRIS Train, to track health worker training activities;
- iHRIS Qualify, to track health worker licensure and certification.
Working together in a country setting, these three systems provide a powerful solution for managing and analyzing health workforce information. Distributed as free and open source software, all three applications can be installed and modified without paying a licensing fee. Each of the applications may be used independently or integrated with software already in place, filling in any gaps that existing systems may have.Free and open source software is software that has been released under a license that makes the software source code open to anyone to view, copy, modify, or redistribute. While iHRIS is free, in terms of licensing fees, it is also free in another, more important sense. The iHRIS source code is openly shared to encourage others to use it, improve it, and share those improvements back with the larger community of iHRIS users. This freedom to use and share iHRIS, and to change the software to adapt to different needs, results in a better information system for everyone.
Before adopting iHRIS, the team should learn what it does and how it works. They will need to convince stakeholders on the choice of software, which will be difficult if they don’t understand its functionality. The implementation team must understand the software well enough to understand how iHRIS can be adapted to meet the stakeholders’ needs.
The following tools will help everyone learn more about the iHRIS applications and present iHRIS to stakeholders. Feel free to adapt these tools. For example, your team may wish to add slides to the PowerPoint presentation as examples of implementations in similar organizations or countries. This will help stakeholders understand how iHRIS can benefit them and meet their specific needs.
- iHRIS Website: Go here to download iHRIS and get answers to questions from the Global iHRIS Support Community
- USAID’s Investment in Open Source iHRIS Software (handout)
- iHRIS Manage: A Tool for Managing the Health Workforce (handout)
- iHRIS Train: An Open Source Tool for Managing Health Worker Training (handout)
- iHRIS Qualify: A Tool for Tracking Health Professionals and Their Qualifications (handout)
Determine the Scope of the Implementation
For the purposes of this Toolkit, the implementation scope refers to the iHRIS applications to be installed and where and how they will be deployed. Setting the scope early helps set the limits of the project when presenting to stakeholders and determining budgets, timelines, and requirements.
To determine the overall scope of the iHRIS implementation, the team will need to define these variables:
Focus, or the type of health worker information to manage:
- iHRIS Manage manages employment information.
- iHRIS Train manages preservice and/or in-service educational or training program information.
- iHRIS Qualify manages certification or licensing information.
The focus may include one, two, or all three of these types of health worker information. It may be limited to public or non-public sector workers. It may be limited to one cadre, such as nursing, or several professional groups. It may even be broadened beyond the realm of traditional health workers, to include social service workers, for example.
Location(s) where the system will be deployed: For example, you may deploy iHRIS at a central, national-level location, such as a Ministry of Health or Nursing Council. Or you may widen the deployment to include several districts/regions. You may deploy iHRIS at a single facility, such as a hospital or training institution, or deploy it to several facilities throughout a region or country. If iHRIS is to be deployed to multiple locations, also consider whether the different systems will share data or whether all the data will be aggregated to a single, centralized location.
While it is important to define the scope of the iHRIS implementation before you begin, in order to guide your planning efforts, that shouldn’t limit broadening or altering the scope at a later point in the implementation. You may wish to start with one iHRIS application or implementation in one location, and then choose to expand those efforts based on the success of the implementation.
To begin, let’s take a look at the implementation process as a whole by learning how to use the Toolkit.