Wednesday, 16 September 2015

what's CET got to do with dining at Hogwarts?

Don't miss this exclusive opportunity........

In a one off event you can combine CET with an exclusive private tour of Warner Brothers Studios where you will enjoy a three course meal. Two courses being enjoyed on the set of the Great Hall used for filming and then desserts as you wander Diagon Alley.

I don't think there is any guarantee that you will find out about the Oculus Reparo spell that Hermione used to fix Harry's glasses on the Hogwart's Express but it is an amazing opportunity to tick off that elusive Sorcery and Witchcraft competency!

(credit) ©

  • On arrival at the studios you will be greeted with a drinks and canap├ęs reception.
  • You will be given a tour of the first half of the studios, showing and telling you on how it all began. This congregates in the Grand Hall of Hogwarts. Here you will be treated to a two course meal including half bottle of wine/beers/ soft drinks.
  • The experience then continues allowing you to see the rest of the sets and be amazed at the magical world of Harry Potter.
  • During this part of the tour you will be served desserts as you wonder Diagon Alley.
  • You will have the opportunity to fly your own broomstick and to challenge someone to a wand duel, you will even have the chance to go aboard the real Hogwarts Express and to sample the lovely Butter Beer.

(credit) ©

This is an exclusive event, secure your place before it's too late at:

Thursday, 22 January 2015

time for a new PMS?

New Year, New PMS?

Yesterday, I made a presentation to a small number of optics professionals. The content was, an unbiased, look at the things to consider when buying a new Practice Management System.

I get asked regularly, what is the most important feature to look for in a Practice Management System, and the truth is that while features must be considered on their merit, the single most important thing when buying software is how the SOFTWARE meets YOUR needs.

How long will it take to change my software?

The length of time it takes is subjective based on the complexity of your needs, your current situation, the size of your business and the capacity of the supplier. However, I would suggest that it is a minimum of 3 months should be allowed for regardless.

Before you contact PMS suppliers (~2 weeks):

Regardless of the size of your business and number of staff, I recommend:

  1. Establish a project team - this could be a mixture of internal and external resource but should include the following roles, some roles could be the same people, usually a minimum of 2-3 people:
    - Team Leader/ Project Manager to manage the internal team and supplier relations
    - An Optometrist to represent clinical requirements
    - A Dispensing Optician/ Dispensing staff to represent dispensing requirements
    - A Receptionist to represent reception/ clerical requirements
    - Business/ Operational input to represent business requirements (marketing, management figures/ reporting etc)
    - IT advisor/ IT input to input/ manage hardware changes/ restrictions
    - Business Owner/ Director who is the person that is responsible for making the final decisions that affect the business (system cost/ budget, approve requirements, training, overtime etc)
  2. List current processes - making a list of things that you currently do within your current PMS software is important as you will likely want to continue doing this in the next package. For each of these processes, sketch out the steps to complete each process. Each member of the project team should do this for the area they represent. Everyone should consider what they like and dislike about the current processes.
  3. Wider staff meeting - hold a full staff meeting with all staff. Ideally this would be an offsite meeting where no patients can interrupt, perhaps out of hours or closing the practice for an hour or so. Discuss the change of PMS and follow this is a rough agenda:
    - Introduce the proposed change
    - Present the current processes from step 2, capture likes/ dislikes of these processes.
    - For each role represented in the project team above, discuss and capture current manual processes (ask staff to tell you which manual processes they'd like to automate, capture why they think this would good, etc)
    - Capture nice to have's from the staff. Present the following question(s) "in an ideal world, what would you like to see a new system do? how can we improve through automation what we do in the business? with technology, what could we do better for our patients?

    Consider this meeting(s) an opportunity to gain staff buy in for a system change, but also to capture all the processes that staff dislike and/ or others that could be easily automated.
  4. Distill Ideas - the project team should meet to rationalise all the ideas from the staff meetings. And produce a list of requirements which should be organised:
    - In groups (i.e. Clinical/ Dispensing/ Reception/ Business etc)
    - Rated in Importance (i.e. Must Have, Nice to Have, Wishlist)
    - Timeline must have period (i.e. Immediate, <6mths, 6-12mths, 1-2years, 2+years)
  5. Produce a Requirements Document - this document should be a list of everything you have identified in section 4 as stuff that is required/ sought in the new software. This document should clearly highlight for each requirement what the importance is and the go-live timeline.

    A requirements document should also include items such as:
    - Data Migration
    - User Access requirements (generic logins/ login per staff member)
    - Multiple Terminals
    - Devices/ Platforms (PCs, iPads, Tablets)
    - Access type - cloud web/based or installed?~
    - Backup protocol/ support
    - Technical Support requirements (technical problems
    - User Support requirements (training, staff assistance)

    The requirements document allows you to:
    - Quickly discard suppliers who cannot supply items that are rated 'Must Have' or 'Immediate'- Have a checklist of features that you can make notes against while having demos with prospective suppliers
Initial Supplier Contact (~3 weeks):

The project team should identify a full list of suppliers that it would like to approach for a demo.

  1. As a first step the project team should contact a supplier and confirm that their system can meet all requirements that are listed as Must Have or Immediate. If the supplier can meet these requirements, then schedule a demo with the project team, the initial demo should be about 1 hour, with an extra 1 hour for the project team to meet in private afterwards.
  2. At this stage, the aim is just to get a feel for the software and not necessarily drill into extreme detail, but it is important to touch on each of the requirements in your document. It is often better to allow the supplier to follow their standard demo rather than going through the requirements sequentially. The project team should make relevant notes against each requirement as it is presented.
  3. Before the end of the demo, ensure that all requirements have been touched upon. At this point, the project team should end the demo, and then immediately review the notes in the document. Against each requirement, place a score of 0-5. And then add the scores up in terms of importance. This means each requirement that is rated Must Have add the scores up to give a total Must Have score, each Nice to Have is added up to give a Nice to Have score and so on.

    During this step, also note down any questions that may arise now that the demo has ended. These may be used in a later stage.
  4. This process should be repeated for every supplier identified in this stage.

Supplier Shortlist Demos (~1-2 weeks):

A shortlist of suppliers should be made, usually 2-3 suppliers. The project team will contact them again and arrange a second demo. This demo would normally be anything up to two hours. During this demo, the project team would be expected to drill down into each requirement to look at the process and the score against each requirement should be adjusted if required.

On the back of each of the shortlist demos, the project team should again meet in private and review each requirement, both updating the overall scores and making a list of pros/cons of the package.

Appoint Supplier/ Negotiation (1 weeks):

Once all of the final supplier shortlist demos have been completed, a number of variables will be considered by the project team and business owner/ directors. After selecting the software system that most meets the needs of the business crossed with commercials such as hardware renewals/ software costs, the project team will appoint a supplier.

It is at this stage that the job of planning the replacement can begin.

Project Plan/ Rollout (2-10 weeks):

The project team should meet to plan the implementation of the new software. This would sometime include the supplier in terms of their resource requirements but allowances should be given in a rollout plan for the following if applicable:

  • Customisation/ Configuration - when will the new system be configured to your needs
  • Staff Training - allowing for training time, who will train, staff overtime during training
  • Hardware requirements/ installation time
  • Data Migration - when the data will be migrated
  • Data Input - not migration of data but perhaps new things like stock/ products/ staff members.
  • System Downtime - invariably, some system downtime is expected
  • Go-Live date - the date the system is first used in the practice. Will this be staggered across multiple practices? Will the implementation of features be staggered across different point?

In summary
The job of replacing a PMS is usually a bigger task than many think, and following the suggestions above or at least tailoring them to your business results in the selection of a system that meets the current and future needs of the business.

The timelines shown against each stage are realistic and can clearly be made expedited by having a dedicated team working on the change. It's normal though that the project team is required to do their normal day job as well as input on the migration.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

is it better on the red or green?

For Christmas this year I nearly bought the usual Xmas Jumper. But a few weeks before, I saw this article on Facebook and it was for a website called

They simply sell harshly underestimated suits, that is in the sense of, will people find this funny. The answer is yes.

My cousin, a double blog awards nominee, told me I needed to do more online social marketing. She was right, we didn't really tweet, had no online videos, never used our Facebook account etc.

So I started looking for things that I could tweet about. Everything became a possible topic. And this suit was really something, to me it screamed duochrome.

Anyway, I hope Santa was good to everyone, Merry Christmas, Grant + Tracy

Sunday, 16 March 2014

off and running at York Racecourse

We're on the move again and this time we're setup at the College of Optometrists annual Optometry Tomorrow conference. This year the event is running in York and the venue is the delightful York Racecourse.

With over 600 delegates we're expecting a busy event and a busy couple of days. Although we do have the gala dinner at the Railway Museum tonight, although i'll be on my best behaviour as usual.

Friday, 14 February 2014

100% flat out for 100% Optical

It's been a busy week in preparation for this event, not to mention the 8 hour drive from Scotland! We stop overnight in Leicester having left the office about 8pm on Wednesday night.

We arrived at the ExCel about 11am, this was the first exhibition where we came by car. Normally, we're in a big white hired van, although this time round we sent the entire stand by courier days before. Rather worryingly we got there and the stand hadn't!

It did eventually arrive and after fours hour of sitting on our very nice red carpet, we got to work. A lot of companies hire in their exhibition stands, or bring in people to build it for them. We own the stand and so we don't have that luxury so, yes that' me up the ladder.

Nearly there, by this stage in the build the electrics are all working, the computer network is wired in and all working well the DVD and TVs are ready to go.

Only just a few hours more and the entire place, not just our stand is completely transformed. Time to go grab some food and if i'm lucky a well deserved wine on the side. The finishing touches will be put in place the next morning.

That's us ready for opening, Happy Show everyone! (oh and happy Valentines)

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

optrafair 2013

We were delighted to come to Optrafair 2013 to launch the product and we literally gave 100s of people a sneak preview over the three days. Although we had prepared for a couple, we were blown away by the number of people who pre-ordered the system with us.

Version 1 of the application is fully released later in 2013!