Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Workflow and Growth

I have found with a start up there are several rules – I think of them like the If / Then statements we use in developing our software.

The three that I have found to be critical are:

1. IF you don’t have enough Capital THEN you are hosed.

2. IF you don’t make the right relationships THEN you are hosed.

3. IF you don’t create replicatable processes where every move isn’t hinged on you THEN you are hosed.

The third item I noted is one of my favorites – hence the reason for writing the Sphere3 Workflow Tool aka our software program. I don’t like to do the same thing twice, and it kind of drives me nuts to watch someone else do repetitive processes. (Once I have figured out the puzzle you might as well garage sale it because it’s not like revisiting an old friend for me, it’s just dull.)   I think that’s why I like to look at workflow – while there are patterns there are also variables around those patterns keep things interesting.

I recently found a kindred spirit in this vein, Tony Marsico, CEO of PCTS. Tony stopped by our office on a recent trip to Kansas City to get the “Grand” tour. Tony has a graduate degree in documentation of complex processes and corporate training. (No, I didn’t make that up, and yes I did laugh when he told me.) Which makes him perfectly suited to run PCTS, a analytic software firm that provides business intelligence for hospitals via an RTLS system.   He is an investors dream with his ability to clearly document and communicate process back out to his team.

PCTS provides real time business intelligence for Operating Rooms and Emergency Departments with “air traffic control” like screens, mobile buttons, and integration to systems and medical records. The really interesting thing about their product is its ability to run workflow rules and associate them with other rules. (That’s an over simplified way of describing that) Breaking down processes to physical movements, allowing for interaction levels and not only the “time association stand point” such as “IF the RN is in the room for X period of Time THEN do XYZ” obtaining information from other systems to validate the entry and interaction with patient specific information. All of which I have seen in “Demo” mode.

As I have said before I usually don’t believe it until I see it and PCTS was gracious enough to take me on a site visit and let me watch their team in action at Cook’s Children’s Hospital. This was an asset tracking project, so not nearly as complex as the workflow in an Emergency Department or OR, but interesting and exciting. The team was incredible, and the processes appeared to provide real time value to staff.  Including the ability to better locate, identify, and collect recalled pumps and modules.

It’s important to note – while PCTS is dependent on RTLS they are NOT an RTLS company. However, they do provide RTLS products. Tony’s explanation made a lot of sense.   Analytics based on workflow using RTLS is not simple and the validity of the information is a direct correlation to the installation of the RTLS product.    His challenges, similar to many companies I have talked to, is who to hitch his wagon to. He is in need of companies who understand analytics, understand workflow, and understand the relationship to hardware. (That last point may sound “easy” but take it from the voice of experience it’s not)

My assessment – Tony Marsico is an Investors dream - he could "McDonalize" processes within a company.  He has also surrounded himself with good people - which I have found to be the key to building a successful people.  (Yes, that's my secret - I hire people smarter than me.)  He is driven, intelligent, and has an eye for creating better workflow inside his firm and outside.

Tony’s Most Recent Read: Inside the Tornado – which I read the following week and it was a really interesting read. (Note to audience: Just read the first couple of chapters and you will get the gist of the entire book)

Sphere3 celebrated our first birthday in May. Though there was no noted celebration there was a strange, we have arrived moment – meaning that the phone has been ringing a lot and business is definitely starting to move. That momentum has really increased my travel - which has noteably decreased the blog posts. Stay tuned there are good posts to come later this month: Chad West, CEO of Ascom Wireless and Todd Plesko, CEO of Extension

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