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Thursday, November 7, 2013

“Hundreds of problems” means they have no idea how many

Yesterday in a Congressional hearing

Ms. Sebelius said officials had a list of “a couple of hundred functional fixes” that had to be made so the website,, would work smoothly for most users by Nov. 30, a deadline set by the administration.

This is likely utter nonsense. In software projects, especially large ones, one problem can easily mask others (and often does).

This is not a simple matter of having a list of all the known things that are wrong. Remember when the site first went online? People couldn’t register. Registration is required for everything else. That means they couldn’t even begin to figure out what else might be wrong until people started registering successfully. Now we are starting to see as they get that first part fixed.

As soon as we heard that they weren’t beginning to test things until it was way to late, I knew this was going to be a giant fiasco. Large government project? Check. Large complicated software project? Check? Doing testing all along? uh… wait… awwww crap!

This is very much a scenario of the “unknown unknowns”. We still have no idea how far down this rabbit hole goes.

If you tell me there are a handful of problems, I might believe you. If you tell me there are hundreds, you just admitted that you have no idea what is going on.

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