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Healthcare.gov & Why Enterprise IT Projects Keep Failing

You would have to be living on another planet to not to have heard about the failures of the healthcare.gov site. It seems like every day, there's another high profile failure, where the site doesn't work, or its hosting servers go down. It's been great fodder for late night comedians. Last weekend, even Saturday Night Live got in on the action. My favorite two quotes from the skit:

Ready for Launch: Five Steps for a Successful Go-Live [Nov. 4, 2013]

Submitted on
Monday, November 4, 2013
,
IT Business Edge

By Kim Wright

The launch of healthcare.gov has brought a tidal wave of criticism. Some say the code was buggy, others blame the servers, and still others blame the user experience. While we may not be able to pinpoint exactly what went wrong, one thing is certain: What should have been a great day for many Americans became the worst day for the technology providers behind healthcare.gov.

But healthcare.gov isn’t the only site to experience a bad launch day; it just happens to be the latest example of how a site that goes live before it’s ready can cause more harm than good. When we only look at technology projects in terms of code and hardware, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Technology projects should support the people, the projects, and the objectives of the mission they are being built to support.

With that in mind, Jessica Richmond, senior director of Government Professional Services at Acquia, has put together some tips for site developers to ensure that when a site gets the green light to go live, it’s ready for peak performance, regardless of the amount of traffic it may experience.

What Caused HealthCare.gov To Collapse? [Oct. 30, 2013]

Submitted on
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
,
Greater Boston

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebellius testified before Congress for hours on Wednesday, saying she should be held accountable for the failures of the Affordable Care Act's website since it debuted on October 1.

That, while President Barack Obama was winging his way to Boston to tout the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, in spite of the website's rocky rollout. Faneuil Hall is where then-Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney signed health care into law in 2006.

Greater Boston was joined by two who make a living overseeing website rollouts: Richard Banfield, the CEO of the web development firm Fresh Tilled Soil, and Chris Comparato, an executive at the cloud-based software company Acquia.

Healing HealthCare.gov

While some have been successful in signing up for health care on healthcare.gov, many others have been frustrated, and citizens and the media continue to raise complaints and frustrations about this poorly functioning website.

With the President of the United States making national news statements about The Affordable Care Act being “more than just a website” and promising to resolve the issue, the question remains: How can we heal HealthCare.gov? And importantly, how long will that take?

Why Healthcare.gov Had a Troubled Debut [Oct. 17, 2013]

Submitted on
Thursday, October 17, 2013
,
Fedscoop

As millions flocked to healthcare.gov to research insurance options and sign up for plans under the Affordable Care Act, many experienced major issues with the site — problems that have only increased in the two weeks since the site opened for business...

Todd Akers, vice president of public sector at Acquia, said when rolling out projects of this scale, it is crucial to ensure there’s a defined goal.

“Having a strong relationship with the development team will mean the best possible outcome for the project,” he said. “You need to iterate on the critical tasks. Too often, you see projects lose focus on the goal, and overall delivery quality can be reduced.”

The health care act is different because unlike similar projects, it is mandated by law. According to a congressional staffer familiar with the issue and who spoke on background, the deadline established by the law made the website launch more complicated.