6 IT Outsourcing Lessons Learned From Healthcare.gov's Troubled Launch

Stephanie Overby | CIO.com | October 15, 2013

The federal government's recent launch of Healthcare.gov is a stunning example of outsourced IT gone wrong. The multi-contractor project has been riddled with issues and should serve as a reminder to any IT outsourcing customer regarding steps to take to ensure a smooth rollout.

The troubled launch of the U.S. federal government's healthcare information exchange is a high-profile example of outsourced IT gone wrong. The $400 million project, which was supposed to be a one-stop online shop for Americans seeking health insurance, made headlines for its bugs and glitches.

The initiative was endorsed by the highest executive in the world, had plenty of lead time, and had a relatively straightforward mandate. But, as a recent New York Times article pointed out, deadline after deadline was missed on the multi-contractor project for a variety of reasons -- from government agencies slow to issue their specifications to last minute changes to the Healthcare.gov's primary features.

It's not surprising that the project was problematic, says Peter Bendor-Samuel, CEO of outsourcing consultancy and research firm Everest Group. "When you make such a huge change all at once and you're trying to implement systems and processes for the first time, the unintended consequences that cascade are enormous," Bendor-Samuel says. "We see this all the time in business, albeit on a smaller scale. The only surprise to me is that it worked at all."