The difficult rollout of Obamacare’s Healthcare.gov website serves as a teaching moment for any IT company involved in the software development process. While not many technical undertakings come with the high publicity and supercharged political environment found with the Affordable Care Act implementation, there are still lessons to be learned that are applicable to smaller projects.
Let’s take a look at three lessons from the Obamacare rollout that are relevant to any IT software development project.
Integration Testing is Vital, especially on a Multi-Vendor Project
The different Obamacare vendors pointing fingers at each other while testifying to Congress illustrates what can happen when a multi-vendor IT project goes bad. It seemed like a case of “our part works fine; it’s the other vendors piece that’s the problem.”
More thorough integration testing and better communication between the vendors should have mitigated many of these issues before the Healthcare.gov website went live. Also, did it make sense for those responsible for the ACA implementation in the government to use so many different vendors?
Volume Testing for a Public-Facing Website is a Must!
The federal exchange used in Obamacare underwent eight technical reviews before going live and passed each one. When the website bombed after launch, one of the lead contractors testified in writing to congress: “Unfortunately, in systems this complex with so many concurrent users, it is not unusual to discover problems that need to be addressed once the software goes into a live production environment.”
It is obvious that proper volume testing of the federal exchange did not occur before the site went live. Many eCommerce and social media companies are able to successfully deploy websites with a higher number of users as Healthcare.gov. It was possible to do the right kind of volume testing before launch — remember that if your company is working on a public website.
Don’t Forget the Mea Culpa when Warranted
If your company is at fault with a poor rollout of a software development project — take your share of the blame and don’t pass the buck. Seeing all the Obamacare contractors fall over themselves to blame each other was embarrassing for the IT industry as a whole.
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