ObamaCare: Maintenance of a system in production is mandatory

The ObamaCare system was not fully tested prior to implementation due to political reasons. Photo: ACA website/ AP

MISSOURI, November 21, 2013 — It is unlikely that the Obama Administration hired people with extensive project management, large data bases and systems development life cycle experience when they put together the Obamacare web site.

The ObamaCare system was not fully tested prior to implementation due to political reasons. Before launch, the site should have been fully tested and verified as ready by technical decision makers.

Apparently, that did not happen.

The developers are now trying to make changes on the fly, which could lead to still more disasters in the system. Any one change completed ad hoc will almost certainly cause problems in another part of the system.

Over fifty percent of the life cycle costs of a software system are spent in maintenance.

As the system is used, it is modified either to correct errors or to augment the original system. After each modification, regression testing must be performed. In other words, the system must be retested. One of the goals of regression testing is to minimize the cost of system revalidation. Usually only those portions of the system impacted by the modification are re-tested.

However, changes to any level necessitate re-testing and any level may necessitate re-verifying, and updating documentation at all level’s sub-levels.

Yes, there is documentation for the end user and operations and the size of Obamacare will require the ultimate amount of documentation requiring many people and software that are used in modification. The changes will have to be broadcast to all affect personnel nationwide.

Test cases generated during system development are re-used or used after appropriate modification. The quality of the test documentation generated during the system development and modified during maintenance will affect the cost of regression testing.

If test data cases have been catalogued and preserved, duplication of effort will be minimized.

Some personnel that are involved throughout the development of the system are moved to maintenance due to their familiarities of the design are parts of the whole system. This requires managers with IT organizational skills in the systems development life cycle.

Once changes have been made there is another process that must be in place at the time of implementation, and that is called release management.

What is it? It is the grouping of changes, enhancements, and replacement of temporary fixes to a production system on a scheduled basis.

There is a question to be asked-are they making temporary fixes and not employing the maintenance process as defined above-term for that is “on the fly updates.” If the answer is yes there is a chance that changes being made are impacting the programs as again this a large integrated system.

The big question today is when will the system be fully operational? If the above procedures and other contributing factors such as the right personnel and political interference continue rather than using the private-enterprise way of implementing systems it never will be operational. Do you think that a corporation would release a product to the consumer unless it has been fully tested-no way, and in addition, they work on the basis of return on investment as our government don’t know the meaning to these words?

However, that’s from a time and place I am from.

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Charles Vandegriff, Sr.

Charles is a fifty-four-year career in technology retiring at the directors level from three major corporations. Followed by three-plus years as a free-lance columnist, published three books, over three hundred speeches to senior organizations, radio interviews, one television commercial and finally married for sixty-five years, four children, seven grandchildren and thirteen great grand children. 

Charles is also a Navy veteran.

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