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Software Bug United States

How Healthcare.gov Changed the Software Testing Conversation 118

Posted by Soulskill
from the polls-say-software-testing-is-patriotic dept.
An anonymous reader notes an article about how the tribulations of Healthcare.gov brought the idea of software testing into the public consciousness in a more detailed way than ever before. Quoting: "Suddenly, Americans are sitting at their kitchen tables – in suburbs, in cities, on farms – and talking about quality issues with a website. The average American was given nightly tutorials on load testing and performance bottlenecks when the site first launched, then crumbled moments later. We talked about whether the requirements were well-defined and the project schedule reasonably laid out. We talked about who owns the decision to launch and whether they were keeping appropriate track of milestones and iterations. ... When the media went from talking about the issues in the website to the process used to build the website was when things really got interesting. This is when software testers stepped out of the cube farm behind the coffee station and into the public limelight. Who were these people – and were they incompetent or mistreated? Did the project leaders not allocate enough time for testing? Did they allocate time for testing but not time to react to the testing outcome? Did the testers run inadequate tests? Were there not enough testers? Did they not speak up about the issues? If they did, were they not forceful enough?"
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How Healthcare.gov Changed the Software Testing Conversation

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  • by Mr2001 (90979) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @06:01PM (#45778511) Homepage Journal

    Most of the Affordable Care Act has nothing to do with the web site. The site didn't have to implement those "2.8 million words of Obamacare regulations" as code: it only had to match patients up with insurance plans, which means interacting with dozens (hundreds?) of government and industry databases.

    Some states, like California, managed to implement their sites without any of the problems of the federal exchange. The federal exchange mainly suffered from (1) being rushed, and (2) having to deal with a larger number of external systems than any single state exchange.

  • What a shit article (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@NOsPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @06:08PM (#45778563) Homepage

    No the project leads gave plenty of time for testing, development, and even kept the WH up to date on what was happening. What happened though was the Obama administration pushed through something that wasn't ready, and wouldn't be ready for long past it's actual inception date. And this of course is because the administration sat on it's backside for an extended period of time, then waved their hands and said a couple of years should be more than enough.

    The committee meetings are chock full of very useful information on this, lots of waffle, but surprising bits in the waffle itself. And most of it revolves around, but we..and..they said...followed by...we were going to do it anyway, but it's not our fault we pushed it out early.

  • by harvey the nerd (582806) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @06:17PM (#45778629)
    Imagine being the QA inspector on a 1985 Jugo car. No matter what you say, the entire thing is a POS. The only question is whether you need your paycheck that badly. Politics and unrestrained corruption simply don't mix well with code.
  • by hguorbray (967940) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @06:28PM (#45778683)
    Having been brought on late to QA a few death marches/trainwrecks in my time I have found that many projects don't get QA involved until way too late in the game.

    This was very common in the .com boom days when everything was developer-centric and testing was seen as an unneeded cost that could be covered by the coders themselves -I don't need to tell anyone here why that is a bad idea.

    Ideally QA gets to help validate that the functional requirements are adequately addressed in the design. In many cases, lacking a spec of any kind I would have to create one of my own based on what the product was able to do or close to being able to do at that time in order to make a test plan.

    When you are brought on board a sinking ship there is no point in blaming the crew for the state of the ship -all you can do is damage control to validate whatever is working and then lower the bar as to what constitutes 'working' or 'functional' -particularly if some major components or functionality are missing.

    You're going to be seen by management as the people who are going to point out what idiots and incompetents the developers were and be seen as the enemy by the developers who were probably led down the rabbit hole by changing or nebulous requirements and unrealistic schedules...

    So it is important to try to walk the middle line -making observations about the current situation without casting blame or making guesses about how the project got to that state (although it may be obvious when you look at the principals and the agenda). Gap analysis of both testing and in the product functionality and features is another thing that needs to be done more often in order to present a realistic picture of the current state of the product or project.

    As a consultant it is nice to be able to come into these things knowing that you didn't help cause the trainwreck -you are just there doing triage and trying to save the patient....and sometimes management will listen to you about project and requirements that they ignored when brought up by their own people. Even if it is 20/20 hindsight perhaps they will heed the techies the next time they embark upon this path -Nah!

    -I'm just sayin'
  • by DeathToBill (601486) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @06:33PM (#45778715) Journal

    Yes, yes, because every bridge the government builds falls down three or four times a day in the first couple of weeks after it's opened.

  • by nbauman (624611) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 @06:51PM (#45778815) Homepage Journal

    The problem underlying the entire fiasco — and the less-impacting others like it (Amtrak [usatoday.com], anyone?) — is that whatever the government does, is done poorly .

    I realize that that's a right-wing meme, and it's rare for conservatives to change their minds based on the facts, but it's not true.

    The military and Veterans Affairs medical centers give some of the best care in the world. I've read the studies that compare them to other centers around the world. They've got the data.

    Ronald Reagan got his colon and prostate surgery at Walter Reed. Watch what they do, not what they say.

    If you got a head injury in Iraq, you'd have the best chance in the world of surviving with as much of your brain left as possible in the military health system. Ditto with saving a leg or an arm.

    The National Institutes of Health is the biggest medical research center in the world. They've done more important research, and won more Nobel prizes, than the entire U.S. pharmaceutical industry put together.

    I leave it to Gordon Crovitz to explain how the U.S. government created the Internet.

    NASA put the first man on the moon.

    Does the invasion of Normandy count?

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