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Lessons We’ll Learn From The Failed Oregon Healthcare Website

Lessons we will learn from the oregon healthcare websiteOracle released a brief prepared statement: “The lawsuit filed today against Oracle by the Attorney General of Oregon is a desperate attempt to deflect blame from Cover Oregon and the Governor for their failures to manage a complex IT project. The complaint is a fictional account of the Oregon Healthcare Project. Oracle is confident that the truth – and Oracle – will prevail in this action and the one filed by Oracle against Cover Oregon two weeks ago in federal court.” InformationWeek Government, Oregon Sues Oracle Failed Healthcare Website, August 22, 2014.

I’ve been asked to review a lot of struggling government projects in my career.  Inevitably it is a pretty even split between the government and the contractor as to who did what wrong.

For more on government reviews see How To Get An “A” On Our Project

However, having worked in government for 20 years, it was just about always the case that it was the government’s management that started the ball rolling down the blind alley.  The contractor was then more than happy to agree to what the government asked for, almost no matter how silly, as long as they kept paying the invoices.   The customer is always right, yes?

Compare with If It Won’t Work With Your Team It Won’t Work With A Contractor

If I am the leader of a project, whether I’m in government or industry, I’m the guy in charge of knowing what is going on and how well things are progressing.  If things are not going well it is usually very evident and usually so early in the project.

See How To Make Our Management Blunder Proof

If the folks managing the project have insufficient experience or if those managing the project have significant experience but only in environments where late and buggy projects were normal, then yes it might be difficult to notice that something is going wrong.

See Successful Managers Without Successful Projects

We have to look long and hard to find good project managers, but they are out there, as long as we know where to look. They are usually the boring managers who just get the work done and make things look easy.

See Successful Projects Are Boring

I don’t know how the court cases will go, but if it has come down to a court case then things are already pretty bad. While I’m sure a lot of classic claims will come out in the court presentations, the bottom line is almost always that the project was overly ambitious for the time allocated and that this was strongly evident at the time the decision was made.  Going ahead with the project is always a leadership issue, regardless of who we have working on the project.

For more on court cases see Its The Project Management Schedule, Stupid!

What are you doing to ensure everyone always knows the real status of your project?

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