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Lessons Learned From Healthcare.gov Launch

Date Posted - 19th Dec 2013 |  Category - Common IT Headaches


Everyone has certainly heard about the litany of problems that the Healtcare.gov website faced during the first weeks of launch.


Regardless of your political affiliations, pretty much everyone agrees that the website’s roll out was a nightmare.

–       The site suffered consistent crashing.

–       Navigating the site was painfully slow from inadequate bandwidth.

–       Health insurance providers were getting incorrect user information.

–       There were gaping security holes.


The list of issues goes on and on.


This will certainly end up being a classic case study of what can go wrong with large scale IT projects.


One of the key lessons that your agency can take away from this is the absolute necessity to perform testing on your software and IT projects.


When the head directors of Healthcare.gov were grilled by Congress, they admitted that they did not do adequate testing of the system because they wanted to meet an aggressive launch date. Ooops… costly mistake!


And if your agency hires a software or IT vendor, how often do they discuss the details of their testing plans? Rarely, right?!


The next time your agency starts looking at a vendor for a large-scale IT project, be sure to ask these important questions about their testing plan:


1)   How will the vendor document all of the baseline testing requirements?

2)   Will the vendor set up a staging system that is identical to the live system?

3)   Will any of your agency’s end-users be a part of the testing? Or will it be just the vendor’s staff?

4)   How does the vendor track bugs and fix them?

5)   When fixing bugs, does the vendor do regression testing? Sometimes, a vendor can fix a bug and unknowingly create a problem in another part of the system.

6)   Will they do load testing to stress-test the programming and server hardware capacities.

7)   If your agency utilizes different platforms, operating systems or browsers, will the vendor test on all of them?

8)   When will the vendor do testing? Close to the end of the project? Or incrementally throughout the project as certain modules get completed? (Hint: it’s better if they do the latter).


At DCI, we consider testing a critical aspect for successful project management.


And we have recently adopted the AGILE process for managing a large number of our clients’ IT projects. As part of this new process, we do testing throughout system development. That way, we don’t run into any 11th hour “Gotchas” just before a system goes live (or after the system goes live!)


Stay safe, stay tuned, and don’t brush off testing!


DCI has been providing its line of eAgent software to over 1,600 law enforcement agencies nationwide since 2001. From NCIC access software to advanced authentication, DCI has a solution for all things CJIS-related.


We pride ourselves on offering quality software and networking solutions backed by impeccable customer support.