IT Debuts Department of Medicine Launchpad

The IT Applications Group from left: Jason Pham, Anh Le, Jia Liu, and Jack Zeng

It all started with a problem: how do you customize technology for an individual user’s needs?  “We saw the needs for these uncovered and underserved areas to get more customized technology implementations,” Jack Zeng, director of IT applications and leader and spearhead of the launchpad initiative explains.

The Department of Medicine IT team, newly restructured, was asked to solve this increasingly complicated problem, and they’ve come up with a unique solution: the DOM Launchpad, which was launched last Friday, March 8.  The launchpad is a project of the IT Applications group, a 4-member IT unit “specifically tasked to develop such customized technology solutions to address and serve these needs in the department,” details Zeng.  Other group members are Jason Pham, Jia Liu, and Anh Le.  They set out with “the luxury to design it without any preconceived ideas (biases in some cases), to really think outside the box to design the function and purpose of what this unit ought to be,” Zeng says.  They started with department needs and wants and did everything with the goal of “serving an unfilled business need.”

The process of creating the Launchpad was long but ultimately rewarding, Zeng explains.  Over the course of four years the team has produced over a dozen web applications that address a specific business needs and processes, ranging from finance to human resources to research and many others.  Zeng calls the work collaborative, explaining,  “As an example, DOMComp is a financial application that involved extensive collaboration and teamwork with business stakeholders from the department leadership, to division chiefs and managers, to faculty since the very conception and designing stage, to reviewing and guiding the app building stage, to continuously providing feedback after its release to live production.”

Launchpad currently includes a dozen apps, categorized by functional area so that each employee can filter and find the ones they have access to, as well as launch apps without having to remember URLs or bookmarks.

The system’s reach could be wide-ranging, extending far beyond the DOM.  “Because we’re the largest and most complex department in the school,” Zeng states, “the technology solutions that could support this type of complexity and diversity in business processes have found their relevance to other departments.  Some of the apps are being replicated or referenced beyond the department.”

Launchpad is far from complete, however—as Zeng explains they’re still re-versioning, creating new and modified versions of apps, and incorporating feedback.  Since last Friday, he says, they’ve heard “lots of praise and likes.”

Launch the DOM Launchpad below!