With the web site problems of www.healthcare.gov dominating the news, I was reminded of the classic book on software project management from my era, The Mythical Man Month. Surprisingly I found out that the first edition is available at archive.org. I guess it is too late to recommend that someone in the Department of Health and Human Services read it before throwing more people at the project.
Some people might argue that a book written in 1975 is not relevant to today’s project managers. Well, here is a shorter IEEE article, Why Software Fails, written in 2005 that echoes a lot of the same sentiments. If we believe the www.healthcare.gov reporting is accurate then this project has already exhibited many of the factors that should cause the project to fail. Read it and weep! In that article the authors say:
Why do projects fail so often?
Among the most common factors:
- Unrealistic or unarticulated project goals
- Inaccurate estimates of needed resources
- Badly defined system requirements
- Poor reporting of the project’s status
- Unmanaged risks
- Poor communication among customers, developers, and users
- Use of immature technology
- Inability to handle the project’s complexity
- Sloppy development practices
- Poor project management
- Stakeholder politics
- Commercial pressures