“Don’t Let the Problems of Healthcare.gov Happen To You” by Joseph Gutwirth

There has been an excessive amount of discussion in the media about the Affordable Care Act, specifically the immense challenges that have occurred in the website rollout process. Joseph Gutwirth, who runs a software testing company in LA, brings us some tips on how the challenges could have been avoided, and how you can avoid frustrating your customers with slow and malfunctioning websites. 

Countless people throughout the country have experienced challenges in attempting to sign up for the Affordable Care Act. What can we learn about the healthcare.gov website failures that can be applied back to our IT projects?

1. Work from your Production release date backwards. Review your requirements list as far as what must be done and then find out if your proposed release date is realistic or if you need to change it. The ACA website should have had three to six months of testing to ensure it would work before launch. Four to six months would have probably been more realistic, but then that figure is dependent on having effective project management and a top-notch development team that can find and fix problems quickly.

2. If your website, software and systems are going to be public facing and encountering load then you’ll need to include performance and stress testing as part of your testing. This also includes in-house business systems too. Utilize a company to manage and execute the types of scripts and tests that will accurately reproduce how your customers are going to use your site and what your customers are going to do. There are several performance test environment services that can supply as much load as you’ll need to support your traffic requirements.

3. Control your project’s management either onsite or through a company that is expert in software project management. If you are outsourcing development and QA to another company overseas, do not let that company manage your project. Having an outsourced company manage your development process and technical teams, including your test team, is like having the fox mind the henhouse. Almost as bad as having your development team manage the QA team.

4. Utilizing an experienced test team that is different from your development team is paramount to maintaining an objective viewpoint and ultimately launching a successful product. Even if you have an in-house QA team you should also consider hiring a secondary test team to review your product either in tandem with your test team or after you have completed your first round of testing.

Joseph Gutwirth is CEO of QuadrixIT, a software test company that has built and quality tested for some of the largest companies in the world, including Sony Pictures, EMI, GFI Software, and others. 

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