Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What can Association Execs Learn from HealthCare.Gov?

I’m old enough to have learned two lessons from converting member records to a computerized database:
  1. It takes longer than expected.
  2. It costs more than expected.
So, I should not have been surprised by the fiasco surrounding the creation of HealthCare.gov nor of the issues surrounding the online version of the Common Application.

In his column headlined Hidden lessons from HealthCare.gov's failure , Harvard’s Nicco Mele offered some advice good for HealthCare.gov and for association executives.
Here are some excerpts:
  • A study, released last week by Computer World, revealed that 94 percent of IT projects in the past decade with budgets of greater than $10 million, in government and out, launched with major problems or simply failed. Big launches and big flops have become the norm.
  • The approach to both HealthCare.gov and the Common Application makes it clear that there is a growing gap between traditional institutions, such as government and universities, and the technology most Americans use to navigate their lives. If our leaders cannot close that gap, trust in core institutions will continue to fall, and we’ll keep seeking smaller and faster alternatives.
  • Our leaders aren’t equipped to change that. Most politicians, educators and executives remain unaware of how to hold contractors and programmers accountable. The danger is that a lack of knowledgeable leadership and high-profile failures will kill new projects in the cradle.
Here is one key point for association executives and any association management team planning to implement big online changes:
  • A mantra in open-source development is “release early and often.” Start small. Make sure your assumptions work. Then build a step at a time.
Remember this when you start your next big IT or web initiative!

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