NPR's All Tech Considered today reported on a fascinating look at the some of the issues plaguing the rollout of the Health Care website. The biggest takeaway from this is that the risk assessment - a very comprehensive one - wrapped up 9 months prior to the website's rollout. Code issues notwithstanding, many of the analysis' recommendations could have eased the implementation.
The article does a good job of summarizing two common IT Project Management processes: Waterfall (dump all of the requirements into the development team's lap, go away, come back later to see everything laid out at once) and Agile (outline the requirements, deliver the project in phases that can be adjusted to address issues along the way).
The Healthcare.gov site was developed using the Waterfall approach. This might have worked if the product being developed were being done so by a team of experienced coders, by an IT firm with deep development and testing experience, and had the scope been developed by equally deeply-steeped experts. None of that applied here.
Add to those issues the deployment of a website to an entire nation at the same time, with the addition of state's marketplaces added to the interface. Mix in the lack of clear leadership, failure to perform end-to-end or regression testing, load testing, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Often, disasters like these can be prevented - by internal stakeholder reviews, testing phases, and at least utilizing an Agile development method. In this case, the project knew early on that it was facing issues, and called in consultants to adjust course. Those consultants, from what I can glean in the article and associated materials, seemed to have done a thorough job. Their report foresaw many of the issues that the website faced after it went live. And, their observations were provided 9 months prior to the launch of the site. What is not clear, however, is why those report recommendations and red flags weren't heeded. In the main image from the report (seen above), the Ideal Situation even seems to describe an Agile project, while in reality a Waterfall project was executed.
If you have an IT Project on the horizon, Paintrock Consulting can help you manage that project effectively and efficiently. From helping you shape your scope requirements into information that is logical to developers, to determining which project management methodology is best for your goals, to implementing and managing your project and helping you secure additional short-term resources that can come together to help your organization reach its goals - let us help!