The debacle that has consumed the implementation and rollout of the U.S. government’s Affordable Care Act and its website, is not directly associated with supply chain business processes but then again, we can certainly extract the learning when one considers large-scale ERP or online fulfillment systems implementations.

Perhaps our readers, especially our IT audience have been keeping-up with the saga of the information-technology development and service providers pointing the finger at one another as to the initial dismal response of the web site. This author can certainly relate to this saga and our IT focused readers can relate all too well. Upon following the events, this author questions the original plan for cross-vendor program management as well as the overall system’s scalability and operational testing. However, what really caught our eye yesterday was a report from Bloomberg that indicates that the U.S. government has now drafted the external assistance of some tech heavyweights.  

According to Bloomberg, the U.S. government has enlisted computer engineers and programmers from Google, Red Hat, Oracle and other information technology companies to assist in remediation efforts.  It’s a literal, all hands on deck effort, and is being directed by a newly appointed overall project director.  Reports indicate that overall project management has been realigned with UnitedHealthcare Group’s Quality Software Services unit now overseeing the entire operation.

Bloomberg cites names such as Michael Dickerson, a site reliability engineer on leave from Google who is working on improving the stability of the web site, Greg Gershman, innovation director at Moborno is assisting on improving agility of the development process. Even Larry Ellison of Oracle has offered his company’s technical and database engineering resources to aide in remediation efforts.

Here’s the learning, at least thus far.

When a major systems implementation is in trouble, stop hiding the reality.  This is the era of social and the Internet, and news travels rather quickly, in spite of any efforts to spin-up a different story.

Next, bring in the real experts, those that have demonstrated proven skills in large-scale systems development and implementation, and bring them in when the obvious is concluded- the system has a major problem.  If you’re the President of the United States, and your signature program is in trouble, you have the opportunity to call on the best tech minds, engineers and developers to assist, and that seems to now be happening.

By our view, will get fixed, the question is when, at what cost, and at what political fallout.  This is somewhat akin to a large-scale ERP implementation or online commerce systems implementation, only far more visible.

Bob Ferrari