Embrace the future: 5 insights into Edward-Elmhurst Health's journey to cloud-based ERP

After a lengthy evaluation and negotiation process, Edward-Elmhurst Health in Illinois, which operates facilities in Naperville and Elmhurst, selected cloud-based software vendor Workday as its enterprise resource planning partner.

During Becker's CEO + CFO Virtual Event Nov. 10, Denise Chamberlain, the system's executive vice president and CFO, explained what went into the selection and shared tips for organizations embarking on similar initiatives. Deana Kraft, global head of healthcare go to market for Workday, guided the conversation.

Five key takeaways:

1. It's time to embrace the future. Soon after Ms. Chamberlain joined Edward-Elmhurst Health, about two years ago, a decision was made to move away from its legacy ERP solution for HR, finance and supply chain, and adopt a cloud-based solution.

"This was a very strategic investment that we needed to make," she said. "We needed to move our ERP out of the past."

2. Executive sponsorship is key. Realizing the importance and expense of implementing a new ERP solution, Ms. Chamberlain assumed a hands-on role as executive sponsor of Edward-Elmhurst's initiative.

"My recommendation [for leaders] is with this size of investment — and an investment that is this important to the finance function and the organization — be involved," Ms. Chamberlain said. "It's tens of millions of dollars, and it's an investment that is going to affect the organization for 10 years, 15 years."

3. Consider bringing in outside help. Switching ERPs is a time-consuming and potentially overwhelming endeavor, Ms. Chamberlain and Ms. Kraft agreed.

"This is a huge undertaking," Ms. Chamberlain said. "I could not have gotten through this without the help of the advisors that we brought in to help us. I also internally had a project manager assigned to just the selection process."

These advisors helped Edward-Elmhurst achieve "clarity of guiding principles out of the gate," Ms. Kraft said, "and having those to come back to can be really helpful."

4. Partnership is an important differentiator. When Edward-Elmhurst established a scoring grid to evaluate possible solutions, it discovered that most vendors tied on functionality.

"What really emerged out of the process was the importance of the partnership," Ms. Chamberlain said.

5. Trust your gut. The first test of a partnership often comes in negotiations, according to Ms. Kraft. That was certainly the case for Edward-Elmhurst, which pulled out of negotiations with its first-choice vendor after a few months.

"The partnership just wasn't feeling right," Ms. Chamberlain said. "I finally got to the point that I called the team together and said I think we should rethink this. … And I had to go back to the board, but I am so, so glad that we did. It was such a different feeling, the more I worked with Workday."

Click here to access a recording of the event.

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