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!
I think Microsoft is going in the right direction. This is a move to end forced and artificial ranking, and to move toward Pay for Performance, which more greatly fosters collaboration.
We've seen many entities that seem to crumble, or at least stagnate, under the scarcity model of business. The general illustration of this model is that there is a limited portion of a pie available to the whole company. Therefore, it becomes the best interest of each department to get the largest piece of the pie as possible. Think of the pie as resources, skills, or operating budget. This creates swirls of bureaucracy, in which managers spend large amounts of time in political maneuvering to obtain as much of the pie as possible.
Results of this often include sandbagging budget dollars, and hoarding knowledge or information. And this simply is not an effective way for a business to grow, improve, or prosper. Just think of how this wasted time and effort (and useless frustration!) could be better employed. This causes even the most well meaning managers to rule by fear and control, and that is not conducive to employee engagement.
However, a shift to an abundance model of management begins with a cohesive vision of the company's goals and objectives, shared across the organization. This model still realizes that some resources may be less readily available than others, but encourages management to collaborate and develop solutions from within those parameters. Having an increase of ideas around the table, especially as a result of employee engagement focused on reaching the same company objectives, makes solutions much more readily apparent.
In the end, encouraging employees to collaborate - rather than compete against each other - holds greater promise for growth and development, and greater engages your employee base. Pay for performance still allows you to manage or encourage poor performers and praise your high performers while pursuing cohesive objectives.
How long will the bulk of corporate America take to follow suit?