Healthcare.gov: An in-house blockbuster

explodeIf the Healthcare.gov debacle were made into a movie, the promoters would have a field day. “This action-packed blockbuster has it all; blown deadlines, exploding scope creep, crashing priorities and enough client and vendor incompetence that the critical mass may put the entire planet at risk of annihilation!”

Take a look at the November 23rd New York Times front-page article for the titillating details and to provide yourself with a complete list of what NOT to do when managing your clients’ projects. If, for some masochistically-driven reason you’d like to replicate the crash and burn, here are a few pointers:

1. Find a client who has all the responsibility and none of the authority to make decisions to work with on your project.

2. Make sure that there are multiple stakeholders with conflicting priorities.

3. Set ever-shifting, unreasonable deadlines.

4. Allow the client to choose your creative team and vendors for you.

5. Mandate scope creep on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

6. Throw out any semblance of process and project management.

7. Use untested beta applications to execute the work.

8. Mix in a healthy dose of internal politics and turf wars.

9. Consistently change the parameters and objectives of the project.

Unfortunately, albeit on a lesser scale, we often find ourselves in similar situations as the parties responsible for creating the Healthcare.gov site. Unlike them, though, we don’t have quite the same size hurdles and, therefore, have at least a bit more control and opportunity to manage and address the above mentioned pitfalls. Shame on us if we don’t.

 

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