Premier 100 IT Leader: Kathleen Scheirman

Inspiring a shared vision helps a standardization project gain support

Behind the scenes at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., Kathleen Scheirman, senior vice president of corporate services business information, believes technology can provide competitive advantage by standardizing processes, keeping costs down and ultimately improving patient care.

Kathleen Scheirman

She put that belief to the test as she helped lead the health insurer and medical care provider through a nationwide deployment of a new ERP system -- Oracle's PeopleSoft Financials and Supply Chain Management suite, which replaced a variety of accounting and supply chain management tools.

It wasn't easy changing the mindset of Kaiser's 175,000 employees or the various stakeholders in corporate and regional finance, the business units, the hospitals and the supply chain. "There was a lot of autonomy at the time," and many technologies were in use, she recalls. The biggest challenge was explaining the benefits of the new system.

"She was able to quickly foster a spirit of collaboration among her business partners and inspired a shared vision that allowed them to see the benefits of standardization that members and patients would realize," says Manish Vipani, vice president for IT shared services.

The system is now deployed across eight operating regions and serves as the single platform for all drug purchases. It processes millions of transactions each month and has significantly improved the time it takes to close financial books.

Collett is a Computerworld contributing writer. You can contact her at stcollett@comcast.net

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