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A Suite Solution for Financial Planning at Salem Hospital

  • July 01 2004, 1:00am EDT

REVIEWER: Sean Riesterer, budget and reimbursement manager for Pacific Health Horizons.

BACKGROUND: In 1990, Salem Hospital was a 454-bed hospital with approximately 100 individual departments including offsite rehabilitation and psychiatric facilities. At that time, the process for budgeting and financial planning was based on individual Lotus spreadsheets combined with a centralized, redundant and largely paper-driven process. Budget consolidation and reporting were particularly difficult and time-consuming. In February 1991, the hospital hired a new budget and reimbursement manager, Kathleen Dowling, and moved quickly to establish better financial planning solutions with the help of SRC Software. Within a month, SRC Software's Budget, Payroll and Reporting software were installed, and a new and vastly improved budget process was developed and under way. Department managers immediately appreciated the wealth of detailed information, and executives and budget staff appreciated the ease of flexibility and consolidated reporting. Since those early days and with the help of SRC Software, the hospital has steadily evolved its budgeting and management reporting to the current distributed set of solutions where, in most cases, paper is optional. This evolution has included a number of migrations from the original DOS-based Lotus platform to the current Windows-based Excel platform. The hospital now has in excess of 170 users accessing their budgets and management reports from multiple locations.

PLATFORMS: We are currently operating SRC solutions on PC servers and workstations (various Pentium chipsets) running various versions of Windows (NT, 2000, XP) and Excel (97, 2000, XP).

PROBLEM SOLVED: The principle challenge was providing various users a robust yet flexible and scalable solution together with options for rapid reporting and consolidation.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The SRC-based solutions use a familiar spreadsheet platform and offer endless flexibility in building templates and robust reporting capabilities.

STRENGTHS: The main strengths of this product include the robust yet extremely flexible architecture, excellent and immediate value for the investment, ongoing product enhancements and great customer service. The product enables true mass customization solutions.

WEAKNESSES: The weaknesses are minor, inherent in the product evolution and not really the fault of the product itself. As the application programming has advanced from Lotus macro language to Visual Basic, advanced end users and their solutions may push the envelope for available architecture and support. Conversely, because not all end users will be comfortable working with Visual Basic, creative or custom solutions may require vendor consulting. Rare stability issues have surfaced due to underlying compatibilities of Excel or Windows software patches.

SELECTION CRITERIA: At the time we selected SRC applications, there were few if any real alternatives, and we needed a solution quickly and for a reasonable price. SRC was ready and anxious to partner with us in creating a robust and dynamic set of solutions. We considered SRC unique and more valuable because it used a spreadsheet platform and, therefore, was simple, dynamic and robust - a uniquely elegant solution.

DELIVERABLES: The deliverables include an elegant user interface and various styles of templates and reports with a variety of options for use (worksheets, drill down, etc.) and delivery (e-mail, file, etc.). Initial setup and staff training were provided for a quick start, and routine software updates continue to add value to the available solutions.

VENDOR SUPPORT: Vendor support is outstanding. SRC has provided excellent support throughout our various experiences from planning to implementation, maintenance to migration, and the various what-if discussions along the way. The best part of our vendor experience is that we truly have been made to feel as if we are full partners with SRC in the development and delivery of our various solutions. It's nice to continually have the discussion of "how" as opposed to "why not."

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is complete and easy to understand, and you can definitely run the application easily using the documentation provided. Also, because the application relies heavily on Excel and Visual Basic, a wealth of native and third-party documentation is readily available to the user.

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