User Spotlight: Sr. System Analyst Meaghan Connelly Shares Team Rollout of New Advanced Scheduling Features at UMass Memorial Health

Meaghan Connelly

The UKG User Spotlight program recognizes the people who use UKG solutions in their day-to-day jobs. Not only do the articles introduce you to actual end-users, but they also help you learn about features, resources, and strategies you might not have known about before.


Hello, everyone! Jennifer Harney here, customer success manager at UKG. I’m pleased to open this blog post and introduce Meaghan Connelly! 

You might have read about Meaghan in her first user spotlight article, published last year. One of the product features that Meaghan was most excited about was the advanced scheduling (or preferred scheduling approach, as they call it at UMass Memorial Health) and self-service features she played an instrumental role in implementing at her organization. This spotlight delves deeper into the scheduling project and Meaghan’s experience rolling out the advanced features across the healthcare organization. 

Before we get too far into the story, let’s spend a few moments setting the stage with some history.

The History

In August 2016, the UMass Memorial Health–Health Alliance Clinton campus went live with UKG Workforce Central Advanced Scheduling. This implementation meant that approximately 250 employees in the nursing department began utilizing their first electronic scheduling system. It was an exciting improvement! No more pen, paper, or old Excel spreadsheets. As the staffing coordinator, Meaghan played an influential role in this transition. She worked with UKG and UKG partners in a multilayered fashion:

  • First, she configured advanced scheduling to meet the needs of the organization  
  • Second, she developed a training program and customized materials for end-users
  • And third, she took on the role of scheduling manager for the licensed employees 

After the successful rollout at the Clinton campus, the plan was to continue expanding the advanced scheduling technology throughout the rest of the UMass Memorial entities. However, they hit a roadblock when Meaghan and a few solution administrators left the organization. In addition, there wasn’t a true communication model ensuring that voices from the different areas of the business were being heard and included in important project decisions. To top it off, a large, competing project took priority. Therefore, the team put the preferred scheduling project on hold.  

But the story doesn’t end here! It’s just getting started. Please continue reading to hear from Meaghan about how she returned to finish what she started and saw the project reboot through to an overwhelming successful conclusion.

Over to Meaghan!  

Meaghan Connelly Headshot

Name:      Meaghan Connelly
Company:    UMass Memorial Healthcare
Role: Senior system analyst — UKG Workforce scheduler
Product: UKG Workforce Central
Product experience:  Five years
Kronos Community Name: meaghan.connelly59184

Advanced Scheduling and Employee Self-Service Functions: What Meaghan is most excited about

Things began to kick back into gear when Karyn Stacy, senior director, financial planning and nursing business operations, became involved — transitioning our paper process to electronic became a priority! 

Then, in 2018, I rejoined the UMass Memorial Medical Center as a system analyst in nursing business operations. My responsibility was to promote increased utilization of advanced scheduling within the nursing department. With the best practices and lessons learned from previously implementing these advanced scheduling functions in Clinton, I began helping the team roll them out under the name “preferred scheduling” to five pilot departments at the university and Memorial campuses. Across the two campuses, we engaged three med-surg departments, one ICU, and one cardiac short-stay [pre-/post-procedural observation] area. We experienced a few starts and stops, but each hiccup helped us identify clunkiness in our current configuration and in our organizational processes. 

Optimization Assessment: What Meaghan and the team can’t live without

A few months after going live with our pilot groups, we engaged with UKG for an optimization assessment. We knew we needed to dig deeper and uncover technology and process improvement opportunities. We effectively communicated our issues to UKG and partnered with our team to find many resolutions. 

Conducting this assessment also helped us form our internal optimization workgroup. The workgroup’s mission is to identify opportunities for improvement and find innovative ways to utilize our tools and enhance user experience at all levels. We addressed topics such as time and attendance issues, overtime, and the need to transition the remaining nursing departments from a paper self-scheduling system to our preferred scheduling methods.

Over the past three years, we have transitioned more than 3,000 caregivers in the medical center from a paper scheduling process to our preferred scheduling tools to manage their schedules. 

Tips and Tricks: Advice from Meaghan about the keys to a successful rollout

Communication is key
Start with leadership. A crucial factor in our success has been that our communication efforts begin with our leadership team. From there, the message was consistently carried forth throughout the organization, from [managers] to our patient caregivers. Focusing on understanding the needs of the people who do the work and translating those needs into the configuration are paramount to a successful rollout. Communication truly matters at every level:

  • It matters for end-users who will be following the preferred scheduling process 
  • It matters for managers who are staffing departments 
  • And it matters for scheduling and payroll coordinators who oversee schedule workflows and essential details about how the solution will be configured and utilized

Also, be open about what’s changing. Change management communication is crucial to success as well. The most resounding end-user feedback we received from our rollout was about our communication process. We took the opportunity to learn from early experiences and adjusted communication practices. Here are three communication tips I can share based on our experience: 

  1. Communicate early and often.
  2. Ask managers to copy the system administrator or administrator team on their communications to staff.
  3. Post flyers about your resources where the people are; for us, that was in the unit. 
  4. Take the extra step to communicate directly with union groups through labor-management sessions. Like us, you might find that union leaders were happy to facilitate communication on their social media accounts!  

Focus on the people, and build from the ground up

To meet the needs of people within your organization, you must start by understanding the current process. Only then can you relate to where they are and what makes up their experience. Not only must you consider departmental policies, but you’ll also want to respect any union requirements. Much of this understanding comes from having a thorough discovery process with end-users. Our discovery process starts with managers and schedulers discussing department- or division-specific requirements. We also engage leadership and labor management teams to understand organizational policies and collective bargaining agreement language that pertains to scheduling/staffing: 

  • Which jobs will be part of the preferred scheduling process?
  • How are shifts offered on the self-scheduling planner or the posted open-shift list?
  • What contract language drives the scheduling process? For example, do staff sign up in order of seniority, or is it first come, first served?


Training is another aspect that is most successful when tailored to the end-user. I’ve found that merely communicating the “clicks in the system” is ineffective — the workflows need to be presented in a way that is meaningful to the trainee, making the information more digestible. Our rollout plan had a phased approach, beginning with transitioning the planner from paper to UKG, then moving on to open-shift requests, swap requests, and requests to cover. This process was modeled after our organization scheduling process, where the staff self-schedules. The schedule is balanced and posted with the open shifts noted — upon sharing this final version of the schedule is also when staff can begin submitting swaps and self-coverages. 

When we train staff on any of these phases, we equate the new process to the old. For example, “On paper, when we submit a swap request, both employees sign the form and then give it to the manager for approval. Swaps with our UKG solution are also a two-part process, where both employees ‘sign’ the electronic form. The first person offers the shift to the second person, and once they accept the request, it is forwarded to the manager for approval.” 

Its also important to recognize different learning styles. [Before] COVID-19, we did a lot of classroom training and deployed trained superusers to assist their colleagues in conjunction with on-unit training sessions and paper job aids to support. This became much more complicated during the pandemic. With loss of training spaces, increased census, and social distancing guidelines, we transitioned to open WebEx sessions that allowed us to do live demos and have time for open discussion. We developed e-Learning videos that can be accessed by the entire organization at any time of day, as well as printed training materials.

Keep trying

It’s all right to shut down and go back to the drawing board! Despite best efforts, sometimes a plan just doesn’t work out. Maybe it was an unintended consequence of a configuration, a departmental or contractual practice that you didn’t account for, or a cumbersome workflow for end-users. Our most significant accomplishments have come from acknowledging feedback and making adjustments where and when we can. This open-communication dynamic and providing flexibility when necessary build trust in the technology and the advanced scheduling features (as well as solution administrators) and prove to end-users that their engagement is what drives success. 

Just for fun: A side story 

Shortly after our preferred scheduling pilot, one of the managers in our med-surg department asked to roll back to the old paper scheduling request model while we prepared for an upgrade. We reluctantly granted the request for the interim. A couple of schedules later, the same manager engaged our team to help the department transition back to utilizing the electronic features. Now we look back on this experience and smile because we know we can reach our goals with the right technology, time, patience, and dedication. 


Thank you, Meaghan, for sharing your wisdom! To follow up with Meaghan, please feel free to connect with her via private message in UKG Kronos Community. 

If you’re interested in stepping into the spotlight, complete our short online interview form and provide the information we need to feature you here on Working Smarter Cafe.

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