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Rosaline Hendricks is an iHRIS human resource information systems advisor in Namibia. iHRIS (pronounced "iris") is IntraHealth's open source software suite that helps countries around the world track and manage their health workforce data. The following is an excerpt of a post that originally appeared on the iHRIS Blog.
Q: What do you like about IT?
A: I like the fact that you can use it to optimize processes that normally take a very long time. The first time that I saw a computer, I was in my final year of high school. I guess I saw the potential, because I decided to study computer science.
I’m not a typical developer. I don’t like the solitary part of it, having to sit and figure out a piece of code on one’s own. I prefer interacting with people, understanding their requirements, and finding a solution.
What are you doing with iHRIS right now?
iHRIS is new for us in Namibia as we’ve just completed our second installation of iHRIS Manage. In Namibia, we struggle with a low level of computer literacy, especially in our rural areas. So we’ve had some change-management and adoption issues, but once the users get accustomed to the flow, they find it quite easy to use, and that’s what I like about iHRIS.
I also like that with relatively inexperienced iHRIS developers, we were able to customize iHRIS Manage and roll it out for our faith-based partners.
Right now we’re focusing on working with hospital and health center staff to ensure that they keep the data updated on iHRIS and that they get comfortable with using the iHRIS reports and filters to get the information they need for decision-making.
The glass ceiling is very much in place still. Very few women hold senior IT positions in Namibia.
What is it about working with iHRIS that you find satisfying personally?
I’m a bit of a systems thinker. I tend to see the whole picture, from the start to the end. Processes are what get me excited—what does an HR person do to ensure the right health worker is at the right place with the right skills, and how does the use of IT enable that?
For example, through iHRIS Manage we provide information to HR staff on who is due to retire. Suppose their iHRIS report shows they have three midwives due to retire in the next year. iHRIS can help them to see how long it takes on average to fill a position. They then have reliable information to help plan for recruitment and hiring in a timely manner and to ensure they have the staff required to provide health care.
What is one thing you’d like readers to know about iHRIS?
Make sure that you have your buy-in at all levels, from the national level right down to the lowest level where you need users to capture data. iHRIS Manage is a very capable tool, but it’s going to take some time. You need to really think through the whole process. It’s entirely possible to make it work, but really engage your users from the start and throughout the process.
Are there many women in your region doing this kind of work?
I always joke when I go to an IT event or any kind of IT meeting that you can count the number of women attending on one hand. I know that in Namibia there are a lot more IT professionals who are male than there are female. The glass ceiling is very much in place still. Very few women hold senior IT positions in Namibia.
My personal experience is that as a woman in a predominantly male environment, you really have to work hard to prove yourself. Once they see that you can add value and contribute to the success of the team, they have no problem calling on your expertise.
Do you have any advice to other women who want to be involved with iHRIS?
Do not be intimidated because it is an IT system. Think about it as a means to an end, and start breaking it up into smaller parts. But always keep your eyes on your end goal all the time. Do not work in isolation. Get your team together and ensure they understand why you want to implement iHRIS, and let that vision drive you and keep you focused.
Read the full interview here.
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