Brook’s law and the Obamacare website
Healthcare.gov, the Obamacare website, has so far been an unmitigated disaster. Obviously there are serious programming problems that go far beyond a few “glitches” or bugs, beyond heavy traffic and server overload.
Anyone who knows anything about IT development knows a complex program needs to be tested extensively before it’s rolled out. And that didn’t happen. We know now that testing was inadequate because there was little time left for it. We know that a major change (requiring accounts be set up before options are presented instead of after) was requested just two weeks before the site opened.
Developers across the country have been rolling their eyes. They know what’s been going on. They know what was done and not done, and when, to get the website up and running. They know how much time was allotted for actual development (not nearly enough) and testing (almost none) before the October 1 launch date.
And they know when government officials promise the site will be fixed in one month because a “tech surge” has been implemented, that promise is probably worthless. (Of course, it depends on what the meaning of the word “fixed” is … )
Why? Brook’s law.
Brooks’s law says “Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.” Wikipedia has a full explanation of the principle and how it works (which you may recognize even if you haven’t known its name). When more workers are added to a project, they must be trained and brought up to speed by the existing workers, temporarily decreasing the amount of work done by the existing workers. At the same time, new communications channels must be established to fully integrate the new workers, further complicating the effort to keep the entire team working in sync. Brooks’ succinct and memorable summation:
Nine women can’t deliver a baby in one month.
But it looks like the Obama administration is trying to do just that.
RELATED STORY ON PBS:
MORE PIED TYPE ON OBAMACARE:
- Half a loaf is better than none
- I wouldn’t feed it to my dog
- Late amendment strips abortion coverage
- Health care reform? In your dreams
- Do it right the first time
- Health care reform: Mass fail
- But where are the doctors?
- Obama backs off public option
- Stupak: canary in the coal mine
- Obama sells out to Big Pharma