Friday, August 15, 2014

Yup, that's a recipe for disaster all right...

Yup, that's a recipe for disaster all right...  The GAO has issued its report on the botched Obamacare web site development.  Key sentence in the summary:
CMS incurred significant cost increases, schedule slips, and delayed system functionality for the FFM and data hub systems due primarily to changing requirements that were exacerbated by oversight gaps.
The full report is online here (PDF).

“Changing requirements” is a phrase that strikes fear into the heart of any software developer – though it's more the norm than the exception.  The keys to dealing with requirements change are (a) to have an effective filter that restricts requirements changes to those that are actually vital, and (b) to have a development methodology that will accommodate a reasonable level of requirements thrash.  Both of these are vastly more difficult than most people imagine, most especially for large projects with large teams.  The government is singularly poorly equipped to deal with this, as the government bureaucracy has incentives that lead them to thrash requirements at will, and to mandate instead of manage.  All of the above are exhibit here, on a grand scale.

Our tax dollars, hard at work.  Pardon me while I go exercise my lacrimal glands...

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